On the morning of Saturday, 1st November, 27-year-old indigenous leader Marinalva Manoel was found dead on the side of highway BR-163, near Dourados in Mato Grosso do Sul. According to the Indigenous Missionary Council (Conselho Indigenista Missionário: CIMI), an organization that defends indigenous rights, 20 days previously Marinalva had been with a committee in Brasilia to contest the Supreme Federal Court (Supremo Tribunal Federal:STF) decision to cancel the demarcation of the Guyraroká Indigenous Land.
CESE expressed its indignation at the situation of indigenous peoples and traditional communities.
The text of CESE’s letter in support of the Guarani-Kaiowá is given below:
How much longer will we put up with these chronicles of death?
The situation of the indigenous lands in Mato Grosso do Sul and the repetition of violence and assassinations, such as recently occurred in the Guarani-Kaiowá areas, now with the loss of one of its female leaders – Marinalva Manoel, who was only 27 years old, demonstrates the unbearable degree of violence and impunity which has sadly become normal, in the face of the stubbornness of the original peoples who simply want to live in their way on their own lands.
The brutal nature of her death by stabbing on a highway near Dourados, only 15 days after participating in an act of protest at the STF about the non-approval of the Guyraroká Indigenous Land, is symptomatic of the repression of those who dare to change the “modernizing” logic of agribusiness. Marinalva fought for the demarcation of the Ñu Verá Indigenous Land and was a member of the Guarani-Kaiowá da Aty Guasu Grand Council – the main coordinating body of these peoples.
Ironically, last week CESE was in the region where the Guarani-Kaiowá live, and was also with the Tupinambás of Serra do Padeiro, in the south of Bahia, two contexts it considers to be priorities in its mission to assert life and attain respect for Human Rights. The need to strengthen populist organisations in the Centre-West is imperative, because of the grave nature of the rights violations suffered by indigenous peoples and other traditional populations who have lived in that region for centuries. Olga Matos, CESE’s Project and Training Advisor, was optimistic about the good agro-ecology practices she saw there and the spirit of the traditional communities, despite a tense and persistently violent situation. She stated that local government and federal agencies, both the Judiciary and the Executive, have joint responsibility for this situation, particularly for the failure of the Ministry of Justice, as has been repeatedly seen in other cases, as well as in the Tupinambás Indigenous Land, whose Declaratory Ruling remains dormant, filed away, and unsigned.
Historically CESE has expressed its solidarity with the rights of indigenous peoples, quilombolas and other traditional populations. At this time of government transition, we call on Executive and Judicial ministries and bodies to take an active stand in mediating conflicts and overcoming impunity, accelerating the prosecution of the instigators and executors who martyred Marinalva Manoel in her fight for a Land Without Evil, where there is no disease, no hunger and no war.
Salvador, 5th November 2014
Ecumenical Coordination of Service(Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço: CESE)