News / Americas

Brazil Indians occupy cattle ranch in widening land dispute

President of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), Marta Maria do Amaral Azevedo (R), participates in a debate about the situation of indigenous people and issues that affect these communities, in Brasilia, April 18, 2013.
President of the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), Marta Maria do Amaral Azevedo (R), participates in a debate about the situation of indigenous people and issues that affect these communities, in Brasilia, April 18, 2013.
Reuters
Federal police ordered some 200 Terena Indians to leave a former congressman's ranch in south-central Brazil on Thursday in the latest flashpoint of a widening conflict over land ownership in South America's farm belt.

The ranch's owner, Ricardo Bacha, skipped a meeting in Brasilia with the country's vice president over the land conflicts to return to the disputed area, claiming his wife and son were being held hostage by the Indians.

Brazil's indigenous policy, which includes returning land to natives based on anthropological studies, is considered one of the world's most progressive. But it has sparked violence since the country became an agricultural superpower and Indian policy clashed with farming interests.

Federal police planned to give the Terena Indians a day to respond to the evacuation order, said Francisco das Chagas, a police spokesman in Campo Grande, Mato Grosso do Sul, 70 kilometers (43 miles) from the ranch.

"The Indians may or may not leave; if they don't obey, the police will draw up a plan for their removal,'' he told Reuters.

Funai, the federal government's Indian affairs agency in Brasilia, said in a written statement that the Terena had not taken anyone hostage and had not used violence, although they had ignited fireworks outside the ranch.

Reuters reported on Tuesday that President Dilma Rousseff has ordered her government to stop turning over farmland to Indians in what the powerful farm lobby says is a hugely misguided effort to right historical injustices.

But conflicts, like the one in the Buriti cattle ranch near Brazil's border with Paraguay, are still common and are growing increasingly tense. Thirteen percent of Brazil's territory has been set aside for Indians and more is under study.

"The agricultural community's tolerance for these kinds of invasions has reached its limit,'' said Rosane Amadori, of local farm lobby Famasul in Campo Grande. Bacha, the ranch owner, was not answering phone calls.

The group says various Indian groups have occupied 56 farms and ranches in Mato Grosso do Sul, which produces export crops like soybeans and corn. It said 80 Indians occupied the CambarDa ranch next to Buriti on Thursday.

The Buriti ranch is inside a 17.2-hectare area Funai says the federal justice ministry approved as a reserve for the Terena in 2010. Ranchers say they have lived there for decades.

A similar dispute, MarIaiwatsDedDe in nearby Mato Grosso state, went all the way to Brazil's Supreme Court. In October, the court ruled the land had been set aside for Xavante Indians and 7,000 farmers were evicted and a town was bulldozed as a result.

Farmers praised a government announcement last week that other federal agencies will be involved in land decisions, effectively reducing the jurisdiction of Indian affairs office Funai. The farm lobby ultimately wants politicians in Congress to have the last word.

"This will just fuel more conflicts,'' said Funai director of Indian land protection, AluDisio Azanha. "Instead of gutting Funai, the government should strengthen its role as mediator."

You May Like

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Imagei
X
Marthe van der Wolf
March 03, 2015 9:03 PM
Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Weapons Found on Chinese-Flagged, Cuba-Bound Ship

Authorities in Cartegena, Colombia, detained ship Saturday; captain faces trafficking charges
More

US Weighs Venezuela’s Order to Cut US Embassy Staff

US State Department dismisses Caracas’ charge of undermining government as ‘baseless’
More

Venezuela Lets Uruguay Pay for Oil With Goods, Services

Struggling economy, currency controls in Venezuela have led to shortages of medicine, toilet paper, flour, shampoo, other basic goods
More

US Proposes Making Radio Marti, Broadcaster to Cuba, Independent

Officials say proposal was unrelated to Cuba outreach and aimed at modernizing the broadcaster
More

Venezuela to Require Visas for US Travelers

Move eliminates United States from list of 65 countries exempt from tourist visa requirements
More

Chilean Volcano Goes Quiet After Overnight Eruption

Volcano, located near popular tourist resort of Pucon around 750 km (460 miles) south of Santiago, is one of South America's most active
More