ISS Guaraní Kaiowá peoplesBrazil

Condemnation of the Guapoy Massacre in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil

Friends of the Earth International resolutely condemns the 24 June massacre of Guaraní Kaiowá Indigenous Peoples by military police from Mato Grosso do Sul state in Brazil, during an illegal eviction in the Tekoha Guapoy Mirin Tujury indigenous territory.

The eviction took place in an area that is claimed as indigenous territory and settled traditionally by around 150 people. These lands are located in the south of Mato Grosso do Sul, on the border with Paraguay and near the boundaries of the Amambai Indigenous Reserve (Guapoy). Guaraní Kaiowá indigenous men and women had already taken back the territory after an initial occupation attempt in May 2022.

On 24 June, the Mato Grosso do Sul Military Police, under orders from the Justice and Public Safety Secretary, carried out an illegal eviction in order to clear the area. The operation lasted 12 hours, and involved hundreds of police agents, various vehicles and even a helicopter. What resulted was a brutal attack that left one person dead and at least 10 people wounded, two of whom are in critical condition. Among the wounded is a child who was shot in the abdomen with a 5.56 rifle, a weapon that only the army is authorised to use in Brazil.

In an open letter dated 25 June, the Aty Guasu, a high assembly of the Guaraní Kaiowá Peoples, referred to the event as the “Guapoy Massacre”, evoking the memory of another massacre against the Guaraní Kaiowá Peoples –the 14 June 2016 Caarapó Massacre. 

The Guaraní Kaiowá are one of the largest ethnic groups in Brazil outside the Amazonia region. For decades, they have been struggling for demarcation of their territories. During the military dictatorship, they were confined to overcrowded Indian Reserves. In recent years, the communities have organised themselves to “take back” their ancestral territories. However, all of the traditional territories that they have claimed are fenced in by agribusiness, leading to numerous violent conflicts. 

About a month ago, Guarani Kaiowá families occupied the area of the Borda da Mata Farm, very near to the Amambai Indigenous Reserve. The farm owner is accused of deforestation and illegal timber extraction. The local community has suffered various attacks since occupying the area, which is their Tekoha Guapoy Mirin Tujury indigenous territory. Indigenous men and women denounced attacks by gunmen a few weeks ago, during which two young women where disappeared. An investigation has yet to be opened and the facts remain unclear. 

The Mato Grosso do Sul Military Police has a history of ruthless actions in the region, conducting operations without judicial authorisation or compliance with other legal rulings, and acting as a private militia at the service of farmers in the area. In a statement, the state’s Justice and Public Safety Secretary, Antonio Carlos Videira, claimed that the 24 June operation was part of the fight against drug trafficking. However, he made contradictory remarks at a press conference, going so far as to imply that it was a police operation to support the farmer seeking to clear the area. On 25 June, the police destroyed the houses inside the reclaimed Tekoha Guapoy Mirin Tujury indigenous territory and evicted some of the indigenous men and women who had remained there.  

As with the murders of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira in Vale do Javari (Amazonas State), the way in which the Jair Bolsonaro government has defunded and diverted the functions of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), has further exacerbated the lack of protection for Indigenous Peoples, their advocates, and organisations working to defend territories in Brazil. In a time when the demarcation of indigenous territories in the country has been paralysed, and the expansion of agribusiness in the region is in full flow, FUNAI has stopped responding to the demands of Indigenous Peoples who live in reclaimed territories. There are even complaints that public servants in leadership positions within the agency have acted to favour agribusiness

This is why Friends of the Earth International calls on the international community to act in solidarity with the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil, and especially with the Guaraní Kaiowá Peoples, through the following actions:

  • Use social media to denounce the severity of the Mato Grosso do Sul Military Police’s actions, demanding that the State of Brazil launch investigations, take measures to protect the Indigenous Peoples in the state and hold the agents who acted illegally to account.
  • Send a letter to your Brazilian embassy, demanding that the State of Brazil protect Indigenous Peoples in general and take action to shed light on the events that took place in Mato Grosso do Sul, denounced in this statement.  

As a federation that fights for environmental, social, economic and gender justice, we once again vehemently condemn the systematic violence being inflicted against Indigenous Peoples and their territories in Brazil, through the extermination plan implemented by the government of Jair Bolsonaro.