Brazilian Guarani tribe could get £53m in damages

20 Jun

A Brazilian prosecutor has requested that the government pay an indigenous tribe evicted from its ancestral lands 170 million reais ($83m;£53m) in damages.

Prosecutor Marco Antonio Delfino de Almeida argues that the Guyraroka community must be compensated for moral and material damages.

“I hope this suit will help governments to reconsider their actions,” he said.

The Guyrarokas are part of the Guarani people in western Brazil.He told Agencia Brasil, the Brazilian government official news agency, that “the Indians will need the financial resources they lack to make their land productive and their environment sustainable again.”

The law suit against the Brazilian Federal Government and Funai – the national indigenous agency – was filed in April but only made public now.

Mr Delfino wants the compensation money to be used in policies that benefit Guarani communities in Mato Grosso do Sul.

The Guarani are Brazil’s largest indigenous minority, with around 46,000 members living in seven states.

Many others live in neighbouring Paraguay, Bolivia and Argentina.

Last week, a biofuels company set up in Brazil by Shell – Raizen – signed an agreement last week with the Brazilian authorities giving up plans to buy sugar cane sourced from indigenous lands, including those of the Guyrarokas.

The move was announced after months of pressure by the Brazilian government.

According to the Public Prosecution Office in Brazil, the tribe began to be expelled from its ancestral lands, near the Paraguay border, in 1927.

The authorities demarcated their lands only in 2009.

Mr Delfino, a prosecutor for Mato Grosso do Sul state, said that the allowing them access to their land was not enough after so many years.

“When they go back, most of the land will have been cleared of its forests. The soil will be exhausted by decades of intensive agriculture.”

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