Attacks on Brazil’s indigenous people spiked in 2021, report says

Attacks on Brazil’s indigenous peoples and invasions of their lands by illegal miners and loggers, mainly in the Amazon, have increased dramatically in 2021, worsening an already “terrifying” situation, Brazil’s Indigenous Missionary Council said on Wednesday. Catholic Church (Cimi). In its annual report on violence against indigenous peoples, Cimi detailed a dramatic escalation in abuses in the third year of President Jair Bolsonaro’s government, which dismantled indigenous inspection and protection bodies.

Bolsonaro, a far-right nationalist, has encouraged the economic exploitation of indigenous reservations with new legislation and proposals to allow mining on indigenous lands, Cimi said. “The invaders intensified their presence and the brutality of their actions,” and increasingly used heavy weapons to attack villages that resisted their advance, the report said.

With more than 20,000 illegal miners in the Yanomami reservation on the border with Venezuela, the invaders have launched armed attacks on indigenous communities, causing a climate of terror and deaths, including children, Cimi said. In the state of Pará, where uncontrolled gold mining has destroyed forests and polluted rivers, invaders have attacked community organizations in Munduruku and tried to prevent their leaders from traveling to protests in the capital of country, Brasilia, he said.

Bolsonaro’s office did not respond to a request for comment. There were 305 invasions of indigenous lands in 2021, compared to 263 cases the previous year, almost three times more than the cases reported by Cimi in 2018, when Bolsonaro was elected president.

There were 176 Indigenous murders, six fewer than in 2020, which had the highest number of homicides on record. Indigenous suicides rose to 148 last year, the highest on record.

Cimi also reported cases of murders carried out with extreme cruelty and brutality, such as those of 11-year-old Raissa Cabreira Guarani Kaiowá and 14-year-old Daiane Griá Sales of the Kaingang people. The two native girls were raped and killed. The government agency responsible for indigenous affairs, Funai, declined to comment, saying it had not seen Cimi’s report.

Funai, created in 1967 to protect Brazil’s 300 tribes, half of whom live in the Amazon rainforest, said in a statement it was working with environmental and law enforcement agencies to combat illegal activities on indigenous lands. To run Funai, Bolsonaro appointed a police force known to help farmers in land disputes with indigenous peoples.

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