The Mato Grosso do Sul state government has cut food aid to Guarani Indians. This is a severe blow to thousands of Guarani families who rely almost entirely on monthly food rations to survive.
In 2004, at least 21 Guarani children died from severe malnutrition. It was the scandal of these deaths that pushed the government into supplying needy families with food parcels.
This crisis highlights the Brazilian federal government's failure to tackle the underlying cause of hunger among the Guarani – the lack of land. Over the last seven decades, thousands of Guarani have been evicted from their lands by soya planters and cattle ranchers; barely 1% of the Guarani's original forest remains.
Today the Guarani are crammed together onto tiny reservations; as a result, suicide, alcoholism and internal violence are rife. Those Guarani who attempt to return to their traditional lands are almost always violently evicted by gunmen working for the ranchers.
Guarani leaders stated in 2005 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.'
To read the Guarani leaders' statement in full click here.