Guarani-Kaiowá, threatened people (2/3)

Alexis Dumoment, translated by Tiziana Bombassei
9 Octobre 2015

On the occasion of the “Summit of Conscience on the Climate”, Valdelice Veron, a Guarani-Kaiowá leader, came to Paris on the 21st of July to testify before the Economic, Social and Environmental Council (ESEC) on the distress of her people. The campaign was called “Why do I care?”. After years of fighting amid general indifference, this could mark the beginning of a real awareness of the international community on the subject. Nevertheless, the road may be long and public opinion is far from being aware. of the issue.

Screenshot YouTube:
Screenshot YouTube:
The situation of the Guarani-Kaiowás chiefly resides in the isolation they are facing in spearheading their fight. They are abandoned by the authorities be it on the local, national or international level.

A corrupted local police

In the Southern part of the Mato Grosso province, corruption is prevalent. According to Guarani-Kaiowás testimonies, the police, if not taking part in the violences perpetrated against them, rarely intervene to protect the Guaranis. “The local police never take their complaints”, states Gert-Peter Bruch, President of the association Amazon Planet, contacted by the Journal International. “People are murdered, but it is pointless for them to go to the police station, their complaints aren’t even taken”. Seeing the difficulties to defend themselves at the local level, the indigenous intent to make their cause a national one is ignored to gain government support.

In Gert-Peter Bruch’s movie, « Alliança », Valedelice Veron questioned certain misleading government reports. They indicated that food baskets had been distributed to indigenous people, the latter was however denied by the Guarani-Kaiowá leader. When we ask Gert-Peter Bruch on this issue, he answers: “The fact that the government lies to the Brazilian people is permanent. If you listen to them, they will tell you that everything is going well, that there is no indigenous issue, that the problem of the Guarani-Kaiowá does not exist. Between what the government promises and the reality, there is a huge gap. It is systematic”.

The Guarani-Kaiowás also blame President Dilma Rousseff for delaying the application of the 1988 law, which aims to protect the indigenous populations from illegal grabbing.

A social policy limited by the political alliances and the farmer’s lobby

Guarani-Kaiowá, threatened people (2/3)
At the political level, the incapacity of the Brazilian left-wing to install a real social policy seems to be one of the numerous causes of the indigenous people’s situation. The Brazilian journalist Filipe Mauro, interviewed by the Journal International, justifies the inefficiency of the Brazilian left-wing by the fact that they had to make too many concessions to the center and right parties in order to maintain their power. He concludes : “The result is a government that was able to change part of the economic and social structure in Brazil, but only as long as it did not interfere with the interests of the privileged groups, such as farmers, who, today, are against the Guarani-Kaiowás”.

The Brazilian media can also be considered responsible for the indifference of the public opinion regarding the issue of the indigenous people. Very few journalists specialize on this topic. False information is thus disseminated by the media showing little interest for the issue. Filipe Mauro explains that in 2012, the Guarani-Kaiowás attracted attention to their cause. Consequently, the media poached the story. The press was divided, notably between the left, in favor of the indigenous people’s rights, and the right, in favor of the farmer’s property rights. That division gave hope that the Brazilian people would be able to make up their minds through the analysis of conflicting ideas. He adds that the matter then progressively disappeared from the press.

The journalist stresses the fact that “from a historical point of view, [the debate] is part of a large series of massacres and disrespect towards indigenous people and their right of cultural survival”. However, it must be recalled that some journalists specialize on that topic, Felipe Martinez, who dedicates a blog about indigenous people on the website Carta Capital is one of them.

Facing indifference in their country, the Guarani-Kaiowás turn to foreign countries in order to get international pressure on the Brazilian leaders.