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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Former El Salvador President to Await Graft Trial in Jail, Not at Home

Francisco Flores, who had been on the run until early Sept. before turning himself in, accused of misappropriating $15M in 2001 earthquake relief donations
More

US Won't Impede Venezuela's UN Security Council Bid

Washington is clearly unhappy, however, with idea of country joining the Council, which has the task of overseeing international peace and security
More

Video Dehydration Is Top Killer of Southern Arizona's Migrants

US Border Patrol's search and rescue unit launches 'blue blinking light of life program' - a series of poles strategically placed throughout desert that emit high-intensity blue light
More

US Steps Up Pressure on Guatemala Over Labor Rights

Trade representative says Obama administration will push ahead with legal action under free trade agreement to make country meet international standards
More

Video US Attempts Crackdown on Trafficking Along Southern Border

Nogales, Arizona, notoriously known as 'tunnel city,' used by traffickers to smuggle humans, narcotics into US and Border Patrol responds with new technologies
More

Video Arizona Non-Profit Helps Keep Dehydrated Migrants Alive

The Sonoran Desert, a common crossing point for illegal immigrants, is one of North America's hottest places
More