Guarani women raped as rancher’s men threaten community

November 12, 2007

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Two Guarani women have been raped in the past month by security guards working for a rancher who is illegally occupying their land in the community of Ñanderú Marangatú.

The security guards have also repeatedly threatened the community, firing shots into the air and on one occasion firing close to a group of children playing.

One of the women who has accused security guards of raping her was collecting firewood close to her home when the attack took place. The security guards also beat up her husband when he tried to defend her.

Brazil’s President Lula officially recognised Ñanderú Marangatú in March 2005, after the Guarani had spent many years living on a tiny nine-hectare plot and campaigning to have their land returned to them. The signature of the president is usually the final legal step in the land demarcation process. However, local cattle ranchers are contesting the demarcation through a tribunal, and have contracted private security guards to patrol the area.

Police evicted the Guarani from Ñanderú Marangatú in December 2005, killing a community leader and forcing the people to live by the side of the road once more. The ranchers have now allowed the Guarani to return to a small part of their territory, but their security guards continue to intimidate the Indians.

Community leader Léia Aquino said, ‘The threats and attacks started on 5 October when armed security guards started shooting bullets 50 metres from Indigenous houses. Men and women who go out to look for firewood are attacked, and when we call the police, they don’t come.’