Teresa Murilha, a young Guarani Kaiowá mother of four children, killed herself on 11 October. Her oldest son found her body hanging from the rafters of their shack in the community of Paso Piraju.
Teresa had left the community for the day, to seek legal advice on how to obtain benefits for families whose fathers are in jail.
While she was away, the monthly food rations given to poor communities were delivered. As she was absent and could not sign for the rations her family received nothing. In despair at not having food to feed her young children, she took her life.
Teresa’s husband was arbitrarily arrested along with eight other Guarani in April who are accused of killing two policemen who entered the community in April. (See: https://www.survival-international.org/news.php?id=1560)
The Guarani community of Paso Pirajú is battling for land rights. Dozens of families are living in squalid, cramped conditions on just 60 hectares of land, surrounded by cattle ranches on what was once their hunting and fishing grounds. Gunmen patrol the area, terrorizing and intimidating the Indians.
Suicide and malnutrition are common amongst many Guarani communities, where hundreds of people are squeezed on to tiny plots of land and are no longer able to feed themselves by hunting, fishing and growing crops.
In the last two decades over 300 Guarani Indians, approximately 1% of the Guarani population in Brazil, have killed themselves. In 2005 dozens of Guarani children died of starvation.
Guarani leaders issued a statement explaining that, ‘Death and starvation are due to many factors, among which is the loss of land, which leads to the break up of our economy, of our way of producing food and feeding ourselves, and of our families’.
Click here to read the statement in full: https://www.survival-international.org/news.php?id=218