Indigenous Guarani chief killed in Brazil
Masked armed men have burst into a Guarani Indian camp in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul and killed the local chief.
According to the government agency for Indigenous people (FUNAI, 42 heavily armed men attacked the Kaiowa Guarani community in the village of Amambai, near the border with Paraguay, and shot the 59-year-old indigenous chief, Nisio Gomes, in the head, chest, arms, and legs early on Friday morning, AFP reported.
Gomes’ body was then driven away. He is believed to have been the main target of the attack.
FUNAI said other indigenous people from the tribe might also have been killed or kidnapped.
“They came to kill our chief,” said one Indian who witnessed the attack and requested anonymity for security reasons.
Most of the community’s 60 residents fled the camp and sought refuge in the forest during the attack.
Members of the community say this is not the first time they have been attacked since their return.
Gomes was the leader of a group of Guarani Indians, 60 of whom returned to part of their ancestral land in Mato Grosso do Sul in early November, after being evicted by cattle ranchers.
The tribe has seen virtually all its land stolen in recent decades by farmers and cattle ranchers.
One Guarani Indian said, “We’ll stay on the camp. We’ll all die here. We will not leave our ancestral land.”
The incident was the latest outbreak of violence linked to land disputes in Brazil, where one percent of the population controls 46 percent of the cultivated land.
The Guarani have been trying to recover a small portion of their original territories but face violent resistance from wealthy ranchers and soya and sugar cane plantation owners.