NEWS IN ENGLISH – Brazilian Indians protest on mall by planting thousands of crosses symbolizing their dead

22/10/2012 08:43

Karine Melo      Reporter Agência Brasil

Brasília – On Friday, October 19, the large, open grass lawn area in front of the Congress building that is part of the mall in the capital of the country (“Esplanada dos Ministéros”), was covered with 5,000 crosses. The crosses were planted in the heart of Brasilia by indigenous community groups and activist organizations protesting in favor of greater protection for native peoples. According to representatives of the protest, the crosses represented dead Indians, as well as those threatened by land conflict violence, especially the Kaiowás, an indigenous tribe that is part of the Guarani family. The Kaiowás live in Mato Grosso do Sul. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council (“Cimi”), an organization with links to the Catholic Church and the National Catholic Bishops Council (“CNBB”), out of the 503 Indians assassinated between 2003 and 2011, 279 were Kaiowás. 

“It is the duty of the state to take adequate measures to protect Guarani Kaiowás individuals and implement structural initiatives for the demarcation of their traditional lands so as to put a halt to land conflicts in that region [Mato Grosso do Sul],” declared Cleber Buzatto, the Cimi secretary.

A week ago, a group of 170 Kaiowás wrote a petition demanding that the federal government protect them from a federal court order issued in the city of Navirai, state of Mato Grosso do Sul, that evicted them from an area where they have been camped for a year on the Hovy River in the municipality of Navirai in Mato Grosso do Sul.

This group of Indians, at the forefront of the protest on the Esplanada, issued the following declaration through its leader, Eliseu Lopes: “The objective of this act is to point out that many of our leaders have been killed, spilling their blood on the land. We do not wish this to continue. We have decided as a group that we will not leave the land where we are because we have no where else to go.”

Agência Brasil did not receive an answer to inquiries about the protest it sent to the National Indian Foundation (“Funai”).

Allen Bennett – translator/editor The News in English

Link - Em protesto, índios cobrem gramado da Esplanada dos Ministérios com cruzes