Annual Report: Brazil 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Brazil 2010

View More Research

  • On 18 June, riot police in São Paulo charged at a group of 200 families living by the side of the road who had been evicted on 16 June from abandoned government offices. Police used pepper spray, tear gas and batons against the residents who set up burning roadblocks. According to the Homeless Movement of Central São Paulo (Movimento dos Sem Teto do Centro, MSTC), five homeless people were injured, including a child.
  • In August, riot police used rubber bullets, tear gas and helicopters during evictions at the Olga Benário community in Capão Redondo in the south of São Paulo. Some 500 families were left homeless in extremely precarious conditions. In December, after national and international protest, the São Paulo state authorities agreed to repossess the land for social housing.

Plan for Accelerated Growth

The government and some economic analysts credited the Plan for Accelerated Growth (Programa de Aceleração do Crescimento, PAC) with ensuring the country's economic stability. However, there were reports that some of the projects threatened the human rights of local communities and Indigenous Peoples. The projects, which included the building of dams, roads and ports, were sometimes accompanied by forced evictions, loss of livelihoods and threats and attacks against protesters and human rights defenders.

  • IIn August, community leaders Father Orlando Gonçalves Barbosa, Isaque Dantas de Souza and Pedro Hamilton Prado received a series of death threats. The three were put under surveillance by unidentified men and armed men forced their way into Father Barbosa's house. This followed their campaign to stop the building of a port at Encontro das Águas, Manaus, Amazon state, an environmentally sensitive area and home to fishing communities. The development of the port was being funded under the PAC. On 2 September, Father Barbosa was forced to leave Manaus for his own safety.

Indigenous Peoples' rights

In March, the Supreme Court rejected a challenge to the legality of the Raposa Serra do Sol reservation in Roraima state. The ruling was seen as a victory for the Indigenous movement, but also contained a number of conditions that weakened future claims.

Mato Grosso do Sul continued to be the focus of grave human rights abuses against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil. The state government and the powerful farm lobby used the courts to block the identification of Indigenous lands. Guarani-Kaiowá communities were attacked by security guards and gunmen hired by local farmers. Local NGOs called for federal intervention to ensure the security of the Indigenous Peoples and the demarcation of their lands.

  • In October, members of the Apyka'y Guarani-Kaiowá community, who had been evicted from traditional lands in April and were living in extremely precarious conditions by the side of a highway near Dourados, Mato Grosso do Sul, were attacked in the middle of the night by armed security guards employed by local landowers. Their homes were burned and one man was shot in the leg.
  • In November, two Indigenous teachers, Genivaldo Vera and Rolindo Vera, went missing after the forced eviction of the Pirajuí Guarani-Kaiowá community from traditional lands on 30 October by a group of armed men. The body of Genivaldo Vera was subsequently found in a stream, bearing injuries consistent with torture. Rolindo Vera remained missing, feared dead at the end of the year.

In December, President Lula decreed the "homologation" (the final step in the demarcation process) of nine Indigenous lands in Roraima, Amazonas, Pará and Mato Grosso do Sul states. One week after the announcement, the Supreme Court upheld an appeal lodged by local farmers, suspending the presidential decree in relation to the Guarani-Kaiowá Arroio-Korá reservation in Mato Grosso do Sul. The Supreme Court's decision was based in part on commentaries attached to the Raposa Serra do Sol ruling which requires land claims to be based on land occupancy in 1988, when the Constitution was promulgated.