Annual Report: Brazil 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: Brazil 2013

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A constitutional amendment was before Congress at the end of the year that would pass responsibility for demarcating Indigenous and Quilombola land from official bodies to the National Congress. There were concerns that, if approved, the amendment would politicize the process and jeopardize constitutional protections.

Development projects continued to have a detrimental impact on Indigenous Peoples. Long-standing efforts to identify and demarcate Indigenous lands remained stalled.

  • Despite a series of legal challenges and protests, construction of the Belo Monte dam continued. In August, work was halted following a federal court ruling that Indigenous Peoples had not been adequately consulted, but the ruling was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court.

In Mato Grosso do Sul state, Indigenous Guarani-Kaiowá communities continued to face intimidation, violence and the threat of forced eviction from their traditional lands.

  • In August, after staging a re-occupation of their traditional lands in Mato Grosso do Sul, the Guarani-Kaiowá community of Arroio-Korá was attacked by gunmen who burned crops, shouted abuse and fired shots. According to witnesses, the gunmen abducted Eduardo Pires. His whereabouts remained unknown at the end of the year.
  • In the face of an eviction order, the Pyelito Kue/Mbarakay community in Mato Grosso do Sul issued an Open Letter in October to the Brazilian government and the judiciary in which they complained that they were living under virtual siege, surrounded by gunmen and without adequate access to food and health care. In October, a woman from Pyelito Kue/Mbarakay was repeatedly raped by eight gunmen who then interrogated her about the community. The following week, a federal court suspended the eviction order, pending the completion of an anthropological report officially identifying their lands.

Quilombola communities fighting for their constitutional rights to land continued to suffer violence and threats of forced eviction at the hands of gunmen hired by landowners. The situation in Maranhão state remained critical, with at least nine communities suffering violent intimidation and scores of community leaders receiving death threats.

  • In November, the community of Santa Maria dos Moreiras, in the municipality of Codó, Maranhão state, was invaded by gunmen who fired shots over the settlement. The attack was part of a systematic attempt by local landowners to drive the community off the land, using methods such as the destruction of crops and death threats against community leaders.

Human rights defenders

Human rights defenders were subjected to threats and intimidation as a direct consequence of their work. Those challenging vested economic and political interests were particularly at risk. Protection for defenders was patchy because of the failure to implement the federal protection programme effectively.