"BEHIND THE LEASE COMES THE Eviction, COMES THE GREAT LANDHOLDER":
AGRIBUSINESS AGAINST YVY KATU POTRERITO
Trees are set on fire in Yvy Katu to make way for soy plantations
Mato Grosso do Sul is known as the “gaza strip” of Brazil, a region in the Midwest marked by land conflicts between farmers and native peoples who fight to defend their ancestral territory and the few remaining forests and rivers in front of it. the advance of agribusiness and monocultures predominantly consisting of soy, corn, sugarcane and eucalyptus, in addition to pastures for extensive cattle raising. It is in the southern cone of this state where the Guarani and Kaiowá people resist, making up the second largest indigenous people in Brazil. The process of violent expropriation and territorial usurpation that this people faced historically dates back to the 19th century, when the Matte Larangeiras Company was installed in the wide region of the southern cone that corresponds to the territories traditionally occupied by the Guarani and Kaiowá. At the time, up to 5 million hectares were leased to the Company, the largest concession of public land for private initiative in the history of Brazil, in the period immediately after the Triple Alliance War against Paraguay. Sequential to the yerba mate monopoly and monoculture, cattle were introduced during the westward march, during the Getúlio Vargas dictatorship in the 1940s; transgenic soy and corn in the 70s, during the Brazilian military-business dictatorship; and sugarcane, intensified from the 1980s onwards. The Brazilian Midwest emerged as one of the hard cores agribusiness in the country, as a result of the unbridled predation of the expansion of the agro-pastoral frontier.
At the same time, indigenous peoples in Brazil find themselves under the gun of a publicly anti-indigenous government, supported by big business in favor of the financialization of land and common goods. In the period immediately following Jair Bolsonaro's articulation to bring together false representatives of indigenous peoples in Brasília with agribusiness and neo-extractivism entrepreneurs on April 19 - an event courageously confronted through demonstrations called by the APIB -, there is a resurgence of conflicts and violations in Indigenous Lands (TIs) around Brazil, including the attacks by armed miners against the Munduruku TIs and the destruction of the headquarters of the Munduruku Wakoborun women's association (PA); the brutal attack by armed miners, linked to drug traffickers, against the Yanomami TI on May 10; and, finally, in Mato Grosso do Sul, there is a deepening of the conflict between representatives of agribusiness and indigenous peoples due to the tensions caused by the advance of the soybean frontier, as in the case of the Guarani and Kaiowá retake by Yvy Katu, IT located in the municipality of Japorã.
The tekoha Yvy Katu, mostly composed of the Guarani Ñandeva (or even, Ava Guarani or just Guarani) was resumed in 2003, in historic resistance that culminated in the recovery of this territory to press for its effective demarcation. The Yvy Katu Indigenous Land is declared and consists of a 9,454-hectare territory that encompasses the 1648-hectare Porto Lindo Indigenous Reserve, established by the Indian Protection Service in 1928.
During the week of May 3, Yvy Katu Potrerito, one of the tekoha that covers the Yvy Katu guasu tekoha, was attacked with gunfire and through the proliferation of intentional fires, following the logic of fires that, throughout 2019 and 2021, they reached large extensions of biomes as diverse as the Amazon, Cerrado and Pantanal. The same logic extends to the territories still controlled by the Guarani and Kaiowá in the transition region between the Atlantic forest and the cerrado that corresponds to Yvy Katu, where the Brazilian State launches a final offensive with the aim of integrating these territories into the global market. Under gunfire and smoke from the fires - promoted by farmers and local politicians with broad legal support -, Leila Rocha, from the Guarani-Ñandeva ethnic group, historical leader of the Yvy Katu retake, reports the recent attacks suffered, which Kuñangue Aty Guasu echoes :
"We are living in a very dark moment. Large companies are behind this, as well as banks and the ruralist caucus. The large landowners – large landowners – plan to transform the places where they had trees and rivers under plantation, without thinking about sustainable management. The Guarani and Kaiowá communities remain without water in the midst of the pandemic, in the midst of many diseases, so it is a general warning, in the face of all the attacks, evictions, fires that are advancing in the territories to make room for the invasion of our territories by the landlords. leaders, our voice, our organization, leaders on the front lines are also being persecuted and criminalized. It's a very difficult time even for our mental health, which is no longer supporting all of this. In the same way as it has been attacking the Yanomami, here [ in Mato Grosso do Sul] the farmers arrive invading our territories, the tenants threaten the indigenous leaders, Funai arrives with the reintegration of ownership and spejo of the entire community. The eviction has already arrived in the border region, has already arrived in Kurusu Ambá, in Yvy Katu, arrived there in the communities around Yvy Katu and today we have no one to turn to, Funai was the one who used to go before to stop repossession, but I believe that we still have allies that can help us. So it's a very difficult time, but I bring this warning, this painful and distressing information. A lot of invasion of the Kaiowa and Guarani Territories with the advance of the lease, leaders who fight for the territory in death threat, banks, big companies and ruralist caucus behind the leases without thinking about sustainable management. The fires are happening with force! The last springs are dying! The trees dying in the midst of burning! And the agricultural machines arriving heavily in the Kaiowá and Guarani territories, the repossessions, the evictions/deterritorialization of the communities arriving and the 'new Funai' using the term "invasion" referring to the Kaiowa and Guarani repossessions! Dark times! Help!"
Leila denounces the existence of a new repossession, which is going hand in hand with the lease of land for planting soybeans. “They're burning everything! From trees to the place where we pick up thatch to make a house. They carry guns on their backs to frighten the community”, he says, even indicating the presence of cars and tractors from the city of Japorã, which enter without warning and harass the vicinity of his house along with lawyers who pressure for the counterfeit “agricultural partnership”. The farmers and their influence groups claim that the indigenous people do not produce in that land, a racist statement that reproduces and reinforces the idea of “primitivization” of indigenous culture, in total disrespect and ignorance of the work of forest, ancestral and resistance recovery that they carry out in the face of environmental destruction caused by agribusiness in the region.
Other important accusations made by Leila Rocha concern 1) the purchase of people from the village to promote illegal leasing practices, in fact mobilized by external agents - politicians, businessmen and farmers; 2) the source 3) Leila states that “if you find me dead, you already know who is behind this”, referring to the lease promoters. Leila is threatened with death and is in serious danger of her life for defending her tekoha, for not leaving behind the memory of those who fell in defense of the land. We demand immediate action from Organs competent bodies and movements - MPF, Human Rights organizations, social movements, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and international organizations - to protect the life and health of Leila Rocha, who calls on the peoples of the world:
“The government has a duty to recognize us, as we are the first inhabitants of this country and we are everywhere. We are the root of this earth and the rest are our branches and leaves. Think with me: in a tree, how many birds have landed? We are like the tree and many birds landed on our branches, made their nests and then, together with their young, they spread out and came back later to murder the very root. It takes more unity of women to work together, because every day we hear that so many women are in an emergency and we have to reach out to them and get the message across so that we don't give up. Because we are the native trees, we just aren't recognized. And many who landed on our branches do not get tired of wanting to cut down the native tree for decades. We are like the tree, and may all women stand firm and always fight because we are the native tree and our root cannot end and rot. Women, always fight what you believe, just as I am fighting. I know that being a woman leader is a challenge, I know that many will not listen to me, that many have risen up against me. I know they don't recognize me as a female fighter. But I am grateful to the nhandesy and the nhanderu , who walk with me. I am a Guarani Ñandeva warrior and no one will co-opt me, and as long as I am alive I will continue to fight for my land. I know my story and I wish all indigenous women to continue fighting, not to give up. Let's fight no matter where we are, for our rights and for our territory that belongs to us!”
The intensification of yet another agricultural offensive is carried out, therefore, through the presence of tenants and their lawyers, allied to the agenda of the ultra-right government of Jair Bolsonaro, in order to pressure the local population to leave their territory, through false allegations of “agricultural partnerships” (another name for leasing) that define the objective proclaimed by the “New FUNAI”: opening the Tis for agricultural exploitation. The logic of ethnodevelopment - another name for reformulating the old integrationism and protection characteristic of institutionally/corporate genocide against peoples in Brazil - acquires new contours, under the imminent approval of Bill 191/20, which seeks to approve mining and agribusiness in Indigenous Lands. FUNAI - currently militarized, commanded by former Federal Policeman Marcelo Xavier - responds to the excesses of the ruralist caucus and promotes leasing in Tis through an obscure capitulation of false leaders and taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of a people exposed to hunger and the pandemic. It is important to note that the practice of leases in Indigenous Lands is illegal, and violates Articles 231 and 232 of the Federal Constitution, stone clauses, which define the inalienability of Indigenous Lands that are for the exclusive usufruct of peoples, and the benefit of third parties is not allowed.
In the meantime, the government is also sending the country out of Convention 169 through Legislative Decree 177, which authorizes the President of the Republic to denounce the Convention; and the approval of the new environmental licensing law, which in practice destroys any possibility of regulating damage to the environment caused by large enterprises, which includes agricultural activities. These facts are materialized in Mato Grosso do Sul through two megaprojects, namely:
1. The Bioceanic Corridor, part of the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA), which seeks to transport the production of commodities to the Asian market through the road connection between 4 countries - Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina and Chile - which will directly impact the Kadiwéu territory and indirectly all the Kaiowá and Guarani territories, which will feel the pressure for the expansion of leases and soybean monocultures in order to guarantee more resources for export;
2. Project of Nova Ferroeste, a railroad that seeks to unite Maracaju and Dourados with the Port of Paranaguá, to transport the production of grains from monocultures - the same ones that result in the death of indigenous peoples and drive the new war against the tekoha - which will be considered the second largest grain transport corridor in the country. It will be built with direct investments from Russian Railways (RZD) and direct support from COAMO, the leading soy export cooperative, which housed the farmers who organized the Caarapó Massacre on the company's premises just before the Massacre took place on June 14, 2016 The railroad will make it possible to transport 35 million tons of soy per year, and will cut through the vast Kaiowá and Guarani territory historically usurped by colonization and the advance of agribusiness. On the map, it is evident that areas of intense land conflict between large landowners and indigenous people - Maracaju, Dourados, Caarapó, Amambai and Iguatemi/Japorã (where Yvy Katu is located) will be crossed by the highway. There will be support from agribusiness giants like Cargill and Bunge.
The Guarani and Kaiowá, conclusively, present this denunciation through the Kuñangue Aty Guasu, legitimate assembly of Guarani and Kaiowá women, the highest instance of deliberation of the women of the people, to generate movement and international support in this moment of extreme violence that a new period of invasion of ancestral territories, whether by tenants, large companies, mining companies, miners, or by the militarization of our lives and our lands. The death threat is not limited to Leila Rocha, and more accusations like this will multiply. The dismal scenario also includes the advance of Pentecostal churches, which torture prayers and accuse them of witches, recalling moments in history well known by indigenous peoples, such as the obscure time of the “witch hunt” that prepared the colonization of Abya Yala. Not by chance, the macabre synthesis between Church, State, Business - "God, the king and the law", which the European invaders once claimed to be the reason for the dehumanization of the peoples who live here - is reconfigured to "let the herd pass by ”, rekindling the escalation of serious conflicts that for a long time bathed the red lands of Mato Grosso do Sul with blood. This is a cry for help and a cry of revolt. We need to prevent the sky from falling over our heads and defend the lives of indigenous peoples, who still guard the land and biodiversity despite the specter of hunger, death and genocide. Without land and freedom, we will all perish.
Kuñangue Aty Guasu, great assembly of Guarani and Kaiowá women
Leila Rocha, historical leader of the Guarani and Kaiowá people, threatened with death, resists in her tekoha Yvy Katu