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Indigenous leaders murdered
1/29/2003
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Two murders of indigenous community leaders have caused outrage in Brazil. In Rio Grande do Sul, Caingangue indigenous people held a march to protest the murder of Leopoldo Crespo, 77, who was beaten to death by three youths on Jan. 6 while he slept on a sidewalk in Miraguaí, near the 23,400-hectare Guarita Reserve.

Roberto Carlos Moraski and Almiro Borges Souza, both 19, and a 14-year-old youth confessed to kicking and beating Crespo. They told authorities they were trying to awaken him. The case brought back memories of a similar murder in 1997, when five young men burned Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe leader Galindo Jesus dos Santos alive as he slept at a bus stop in Brasilia (LP, Feb. 22, 1999).

Justice Minister Márcio Thomaz Bastos called on police for a prompt and thorough investigation of Crespo’s murder. "The country cannot accept impunity or the lack of security for minorities and respect for their rights," he said.

As an elder in his community of about 600 people, Crespo was responsible for teaching younger members the group’s traditions. "When they killed him, it was as though they had burned one of our history books," Juvino Sales of the Indigenous Resistance Movement (MRI) told the daily Zero Hora.

Just a week after Crespo’s death, Marcos Veron, 74, leader of the Guaraní-Kaiowá community in Juti, 280 kilometers from Campo Grande, capital of Mato Grosso do Sul, was killed by workers on the Brasília do Sul ranch. The Guaraní-Kaiowá had been camped out along the highway near the ranch for several months in an effort to regain possession of their ancestral lands. According to the international indigenous rights group Survival International, the Guaraní-Kaiowá have been trying for 50 years to recover land that was seized by cattle ranchers.

The Catholic Church’s Missionary Indigenist Council (CIMI) reported that on Jan. 13, about 50 police and hired gunmen attacked the indigenous people, killing Veron, raping six women and wounding a man. Two indigenous community members were reported missing. There were conflicting reports about whether the attack occurred along the highway or on the ranch. Two employees of the estate were detained and an arrest warrant was issued for the manager, Nivaldo Alves de Oliveira.

 

Two murders of indigenous community leaders have caused outrage in Brazil. In Rio Grande do Sul, Caingangue indigenous people held a march to protest the murder of Leopoldo Crespo, 77, who was beaten to death by three youths on Jan. 6 while he slept on a sidewalk in Miraguaí, near the 23,400-hectare Guarita Reserve.

Roberto Carlos Moraski and Almiro Borges Souza, both 19, and a 14-year-old youth confessed to kicking and beating Crespo. They told authorities they were trying to awaken him. The case brought back memories of a similar murder in 1997, when five young men burned Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe leader Galindo Jesus dos Santos alive as he slept at a bus stop in Brasilia (LP, Feb. 22, 1999).

Justice Minister Márcio Thomaz Bastos called on police for a prompt and thorough investigation of Crespo’s murder. "The country cannot accept impunity or the lack of security for minorities and respect for their rights," he said.

As an elder in his community of about 600 people, Crespo was responsible for teaching younger members the group’s traditions. "When they killed him, it was as though they had burned one of our history books," Juvino Sales of the Indigenous Resistance Movement (MRI) told the daily Zero Hora.

Just a week after Crespo’s death, Marcos Veron, 74, leader of the Guaraní-Kaiowá community in Juti, 280 kilometers from Campo Grande, capital of Mato Grosso do Sul, was killed by workers on the Brasília do Sul ranch. The Guaraní-Kaiowá had been camped out along the highway near the ranch for several months in an effort to regain possession of their ancestral lands. According to the international indigenous rights group Survival International, the Guaraní-Kaiowá have been trying for 50 years to recover land that was seized by cattle ranchers.

The Catholic Church’s Missionary Indigenist Council (CIMI) reported that on Jan. 13, about 50 police and hired gunmen attacked the indigenous people, killing Veron, raping six women and wounding a man. Two indigenous community members were reported missing. There were conflicting reports about whether the attack occurred along the highway or on the ranch. Two employees of the estate were detained and an arrest warrant was issued for the manager, Nivaldo Alves de Oliveira.

 


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