Ethnocide in Mato Grosso do Sul. Special interview with Egon Heck

The virulence of violence against the indigenous peoples in Mato Grosso do Sul is not only a reality, but is increasing shockingly. Every day, new cases of atrocities against, primarily, the Kaiowá Guarani are related, revealing an process of absurd ethnocide. “This type of aggression and violence is totally outside of any legal parameter and is in effect characterized as an ethnocidal attack in general negation to the rights of this people to continue living”, explained Egon Heck during an interview granted to IHU On-Line by telephone.


Egon Heck is coordinator of the Indigenist Missionary Council (CIMI) of Mato Grosso do Sul.


The Interview:


IHU On-Line – What does the death of Genivaldo Vera and the disappearance of Rolindo Vera represent for the people struggling for civil rights in Mato Grosso do Sul?


Egon Heck – In truth, It deals with one more aggression on the rights of the Kaiowá Guarani and, as such, a manner of extreme expression, impacting Guarani university professors and students as were both Genivaldo and Rolindo. It also signifies the total intransigence of the economic and political powers in recognition of the rights of the Kaiowá-Guarani to their lands. This type of aggression and violence is totally outside of any legal parameter and is characterized in effect as an ethnocidal attack, of general negation of the rights of these people to continue living.


IHU On-Line – Are there historic reasons that explain the motive for which the lands of the indigenous people were broken into lots, sold and unduly titled?


Egon Heck  This is a process of economic occupation of the region in which rights of the colonists had been prevailing, whether on their own or whether encouraged by the federal government through the process of frontier occupation. This was  triggering a process of economic exploitation by large multinational companies that received awards of millions of hectares of the reserves of the indigenous peoples. This process had two specific objectives: one was to release the land for economic occupation, at that time, began to deploy livestock ranches; the second was to accumulate indigenous labor so the Indians were integrated into the production process of the region. Then later, this same economic process had its eye on agricultural occupation of small properties and, from the 1960s, there was reconsolidation of land and in this way they came into the hands of a few, in other words, it was the basis of the current model of agribusiness.


IHU On-Line – Is it known who the people were who terrorized the Guarani-Kaiowá who retook a portion of their traditional lands, currently occupied by the Triunfo fazenda?


Egon Heck – These issues of violence are not always so clearly characterized as to who commits it directly, or whether they are contracted gunmen or private security (a kind of militia that is being formed).


IHU On-Line – In whose hands are the indigenous lands in Brazil?


Egon Heck – This region has experienced an agribusiness process in recent years, characterized by a series of mid-sized owners who, in most cases, end up leasing their land to large-scale landowners for soy and sugar cane. Direct sales also occur to the multinationals that are buying land for planting sugarcane, mainly. The lands today are now, therefore, in the hands of medium and large-scale landowners and multinational companies whose goal is to produce, in particular, ethanol.


IHU On-Line – Who should be held responsible for the violence against the Indigenous peoples?


Egon Heck – Strictly speaking, unfortunately, in Brazil, there is a conjugation of factors in the three branches of government that ends in the virulence of disrespect for indigenous rights, especially the Kaiowá Guarani. So, on one hand, there exists a morosity and vagueness and even omission by the federal government itself that for thirty years should have been demarcating lands. So, to the extent that it was putting it off, it was consciously contributing to the increase in violence. The legislature also gives cover to the economic interests that are encroaching on or denying the rights the Guarani-Kaiowá, either by proposing constitutional amendments, either by trying to amend the draft constitution. There are several mechanisms by which the federal and state legislative branches also contribute to this violence. The judiciary often times does, in an agile manner, with decisions favorable to farmers and, by slowing the manner in which they define any position with respect to indigenous rights. Thus, they are also contributing to continuation and expansion of such violence.


IHU On-Line – What action must be taken at this time, in Mato Grosso do Sul?


Egon Heck – The decision of the federal government is urgent to carry forward the processes of recognition of the originary territories of the indigenous peoples in the state. For this, objective conditions are necessary to undertake the processes of identification and demarcation of indigenous lands. This is fundamental to actually start to decrease the scope of violence to which indigenous peoples are now subjected. To this is added the important national and international solidarity, demanding the enforcement of laws, so there is this demarcation, and also with the correct information through the media, which often reflect only the views of economic interests in terms of reality, of violence, without the usual distortions of facts and untruths being broadcast. This is very important in order to create an accurate public opinion in relation to reality.

Fonte: IHU
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