Brazilian Indigenous Man Shot by Police During Land Dispute
A Brazilian indigenous man has been shot dead during clashes with police at a farm in Mato Grosso do Sul state.
At least three other Indians were injured during the battle between the natives and the police. The victim is identified as 35-year-old Osiel Gabriel. The police say they were attacked with bows and arrows.
The Terena Indians refused a court order to leave the cattle ranch which they have been camping on for weeks, claiming it to be their ancestral land.
The ranch owned by a local politician was designated as ancestral native land in 2010 by a federal court, but a local court ruled last year that it belonged to the current owner.
The farm was occupied on 15 May. It is located in the Sidrolandia municipality, 60 km from the state capital, Campo Grande.
According to the local news reports, the operation began in the early hours of the morning. Elite police troops arrived in 10 buses, backed up by federal police officers. When they failed to persuade the Indians to leave the area, the situation is deteriorated.
Reuters reported earlier this month that President Dilma Rousseff has ordered her government to stop turning over farmland to Indians in what the powerful farm lobby says is a hugely misguided effort to right historical injustices.
Thirteen percent of Brazil’s territory has been set aside for Indians and handing over more is under consideration. Conflicts, like the one in the cattle ranch, are common and are growing increasingly tense.
The expansion of huge cattle ranches and industrial-scale farms in remote regions is leaving the descendants of Brazil’s original inhabitants desperate to recover tribal terrains. Meanwhile, landowners whose ancestors were given land under the government’s so-called colonization programs, are just as attached to their claims. As a result, land clashes in various parts of Brazil routinely take place, often with fatalities.