BRAZIL / PARAGUAY
Guarani activist target of death threats
Brazilian authorities investigate targeting of anthropologist studying land conflict.
The well-known Paraguayan and Guarani anthropologist and activist Tonico Benites said he was harassed April 16 when traveling with his family to a village in Brazil’s Mato Grosso do Sul state, close to the border with Paraguay.
Benites said a man armed with two revolvers stole his money, according to indigenous rights group Survival International. The man said that he was creating “chaos” in the area and warned that if he didn’t stop, he would “lose everything” and would not live.
Benites is studying the land conflicts between local indigenous communities and ranchers, one of Brazil’s fastest growing industries. Much of the Guarani’s territory has stolen from them to make way for ranchers and sugarcane plantations, and many communities are now living in overcrowded reserves or roadside camps.
“I belong to the Guarani territory, where I was born, where I grew up, where I have lived and where I will die… I will keep fighting… I am proud to belong to the Guarani people, who fight to guarantee a more dignified and fair future for their children,” Benites was quoted as saying on Survival International’s website.
The Guarani are “anxiously waiting for proper action from the government regarding the demarcation of our ancestral lands, and the crimes committed by ranchers against the indigenous people,” Benites said. —Latinamerica Press.