Abuse of Indigenous Brazilians Over Soya FarmlandsSeptember 5, 2022 8:52 pm
BBC and other news outlets highlight environmental destruction in Brazil. There has been an abuse of indigenous Brazilians over Soya Farmlands with the anti-indigenous governments of Brazil deliberately ignoring the human rights violations over the past decades due to the economic benefits the sector brings. If you are interested in steps on how to protect your lands against environmental destruction, go to our Climate Change guide (https://action4justice.org/legal_areas/climate-change/ ) and see for yourself!!
What is Happening?
- The Brasilia do Sul Farm, which first sprung up in the Brazilian region of Mato Grosso do Sul in the 1950s, has gradually expanded into 9700 acres of indigenous territory, and is now mostly used to produce soy
- The expansion of these farmlands is leading to the forcible eviction of multiple indigenous groups in the area
- The farm was started 70 years ago by Jacintho Honório da Silva Filho’s family and the soy is sold to large cooperatives and traders, including Lar Cooperativa Agroindustrial, one of Brazil’s largest poultry producers.
- Recently, organisations such as Earthsight have linked the large soy farms to British companies such as KFC, Sainsbury’s, Asda, Aldi, and Iceland as well as other European suppliers such as the German Lidl and Edeka
- Soybean farming continues to expand rapidly in the region, according to the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE). The area dedicated to soybean farming in Dourados and Rio Brilhante increased by 20,000 and 30,000 hectares (50,000 and 75,000 acres) respectively from 2013 to 2018, according to Municipal Agricultural Production statistics.
- According to Mongabay.com, the value of soybean production more than doubled during this period: Soy plantations in Rio Brilhante produced 252,000 reais ($63,000) of the commodity in 2013, and by 2018 churned out 506,000 reais ($125,000). In Dourados, the value of the soybean crop in 2013 was an estimated 312,000 reais ($78,000), soaring to 688,000 reais ($172,000) in 2018.
Who is affected?
- The 9,700-acre farm encroaches on the ancestral land of Guarani Kaiowa indigenous group, who have since the 1950s been protesting against the injustices to no avail
- Brazil’s Supreme Court ended indigenous claims to the stolen land in 2010
- Brutal violence by armed farmers towards the group culminated in the death of Kaiowa leader Marcos Veron in 2003, who was beaten to death in a camp set up by the indigenous on the farmland → Nobody was sentenced for the murder despite three convictions
What is the Farm doing?
- As well as arming their own Brasilia do Sul workers against the rebellious tribes, hired gunmen have been employed to combat the indigenous people.
- Armed intimidation is common, often even with the assistance of local police.
- The predominantly anti-indigenous governments of Brazil have deliberately ignored the human rights violations of the Farm over the last decades due to the economic growth the sector brings.
- The BBC documented one such attack: In the early morning hours of Jan. 2, 2020 a group of as-yet-unidentified invaders set fire to a community house of worship in the village of Laranjeira Nhanderu, home to around 80 indigenous people, in the municipality of Rio Brilhante.
- Another attack: In July 2019, arsonists destroyed a house of worship in the village of Jaguapiru, on the edge of the Dourados Indigenous Reserve. The fire destroyed priceless objects, including a 180-year-old xiru, a type of cross held sacred by the Kaiowá.
- Often the details of the individual attacks/expansions by the Farm are difficult to come by as they are not officially documented, although another confrontation with police which left 1 dead and at least 7 wounded was publicised by AP News on the 25th of June 2022.
How Are Rights Being violated?
- As well as being denied their ancestral right to the territory, the indigenous people are constantly exposed to the chemicals in the Farm pesticides which are heavily used near their remaining land which affects their health and pollutes their water sources.
- Furthermore, the increasing lack of land hinders the people from growing enough crops, which has led to semi-starvation and increased poverty.
- Homicide rate among indigenous in Mato Grosso do Sul state is 3 times greater than in the rest of Brazil. Indigenous residents have an almost 400% greater chance of being murdered than non-indigenous people in the rest of the state.
- Survival International highlights the fact that the group has the highest ethnic suicide rate in South America. Since 1986 more than 517 Guarani have committed suicide, the youngest just nine years old.
- The Indigenous people have no means to legally defend themselves as the Brazilian government has played a significant role in endorsing the oppression.
- As well as this, the current president of FUNAI (the Brazilian indigeous people’s agency) is the former Federal Police superintendent, Marcelo Xavier, a known ally of big ranchers in Mato Grosso state. In August 2019, he denied working on behalf of these ruralists, as they’re known in Brazil, in an interview with the newspaper O Globo.
What has been done about it?
- Unfortunately, other than media uproar by western sources such as Earthsight and the BBC, no demarcation of indigenous land has taken place, and the current Brazilian government is largely considered to be anti-indigenous, favouring economic growth over the protection of the tribes’ human rights
- The area called Takuara (now Brasília do Sul farm) has been identified by Brazil’s indigneous agency Funai as Kaiowa land, although demarcation was vetoed by the Supreme Court in 2010 in the aforementioned rejection of demands
- An influential Earthsight article was published in May 2022 and has led to further coverage by media outlets such as EuroNews among others. The article has brought the issue to the spotlight once again, despite the fact that the abuses have persisted for years.
- The Kaoiwa people have regularly set up camps on the farmland in brave acts of defiance, despite these settlements being violently removed on numerous occasions
- When conducting more detailed research one notices that articles regarding the offenses have popped up sporadically over the last 15 years (in Newspapers such as the German ‘Spiegel’), suggesting that the issue has been recognised for a long time but more drastic action needs to be taken for anything to change.
This piece of research was carried out by Leo Walton, one of our volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering at Action4Justice, please more information on our website: https://action4justice.org/volunteer/
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This post was written by fatou