How Indigenous Peoples' Lives Are Being Destroyed By Global Agribusiness In Brazil

 How Indigenous Peoples' Lives Are Being Destroyed By Global Agribusiness In Brazil

Kaiowá and Guarani protecting their lands on a possible eviction day, March 2018. Author provided

For more than half a century, the indigenous Kaiowá and Guarani people of Brazil have been deprived of their ancestral lands, and consigned to small reserves where it is impossible to maintain their traditional livelihoods. Generations of these indigenous peoples’ lives have been marked by violence and vulnerability as they have tried to reclaim what, according to the Brazilian constitution, is rightfully theirs.

And now we have found that increasing globalisation is posing an urgent threat. In March 2018, as part of the Global-Rural research project based at Aberystwyth University, we visited the Kaiowá and Guarani people who live near Dourados, in the southwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul. We investigated how increasing worldwide intergration is impacting the Brazilian countryside, and explored the ways in which the Kaiowá and Guarani peoples’ lives are being affected by the intensification and expansion of industrialised agriculture production used for foreign markets.

How Indigenous Peoples' Lives Are Being Destroyed By Global Agribusiness In Brazil Kaiowá and Guarani indigenous leader explaining how he was shot at in his village, March 2018. Author provided

We spoke to indigenous leaders and families based in several Kaiowá and Guarani villages across the municipalities of Juti, Rio Brilhante, Dourados and Caarapó, and found out the devastating consequences of globalisation on their way of life.

Ancestral lands

The first dispossession of Kaiowá and Guarani indigenous lands took place at the end of the 19th century, when the Brazilian government gave five million hectares to the Mate Laranjeira Company. Under the pretext of defending the interests of the native peoples, the state also founded the SPI (Indian Protection Service), which created indigenous land reserves. Different ethnicities (the Kaiowá, Guarani, Terena and others) were forced to live together in these reserves, despite historical hostilities. They were catechised, taught to communicate in Portuguese (and strongly discouraged from using their native languages) and became assimilated as “Brazilians”. There was not enough space in the reserves for the people to continue hunting, and use the local natural resources for their subsistence as they had done traditionally, so they were forced to learn the professions of the non-indigenous.

In the 1980s, after the military dictatorship, when Brazil was engaging in a re-democratisation process, the Kaiowá and Guarani found themselves at a crossroads. They would cease to exist if they continued to live on the reserves, or they could leave and reoccupy their ancestral lands to preserve their culture, roots and livelihood.

In choosing the latter option, they faced armed ranchers and farmers who would defend private property at any cost. And so began the worst human rights violations and violence against the Kaiowá and Guarani peoples to ever occur.

Though the Brazilian Federal Constitution guaranteed indigenous people the right to the land in 1988, it also established a limit of ten years to demarcate and hand over the land, and compensate farmers. Now, after 30 years, the demarcation process is far from completed.

How Indigenous Peoples' Lives Are Being Destroyed By Global Agribusiness In Brazil A reoccupied village, with soy plantations in the background, March 2018. Author provided

Since the early 2000s, land reoccupation conflicts have intensified. According to one survey, some 258 Kaiowá and Guarani leaders were murdered in Mato Grosso do Sul between 2003 and 2011. These ongoing violent conflicts, the displacement and the ongoing genocide of the Kaiowá and Guarani have been internationally denounced. Yet, even though it has received global attention, it is still seen as only a local problem.

Local issues against global interests

One of the main reasons why the land conflicts haven’t been resolved is down to the value of agribusiness. Farming is championed as the flagship of the Brazilian economy, with increasing portions of lands being used to intensify industrial and mechanised agriculture. In the last ten years, this sector has grown further, along with the exportation of commodities, especially soy. Brazil has been declared a global agribusiness powerhouse, and praised for supplying the “four Fs” – food, feed, fuel and fibre – to the world.

While we were in Brazil, we saw the everyday threats of living in a contested territory surrounded by industrial plantations. We witnessed three occupied villages near Dourados being evicted, to make way for large scale monocultures (where one crop is grown). Though the Kaiowá and Guarani were there protecting their lands with indigenous rituals, they still expected the worst to happen – and so did we. We prepared an escape plan with the people, whereby we researchers would save the children if military troops arrived.

Although the eviction was ultimately postponed, this shows how the Kaiowá and Guarani live in constant fear of being removed from their land, of being intoxicated by the contaminated water, air and soil, of been killed.

During our research, we also visited families who had been evicted from reoccupied areas due to agribusiness expansion, and left with no land. Squeezed between sugar cane, soy and corn plantations, they were ousted to the sides of roads.

We spoke to an indigenous leader, who was living at the edge of a road, driven from her indigenous land. She cried over the death of her husband and son, which were due to land conflicts, and lamented the health problems that came from chemicals put by agribusiness on the land. She mentioned that the children specifically had increasingly experienced headaches, stomach problems and sickness, which they believed was due to water contamination – and that some of them had lost their lives.

She told us of the challenges to her people’s livelihood and the unbearable situation to which they are now condemned. One of the indigenous leaders claimed “Europeans should know that in the bio-ethanol they are importing from Brazil they will find our blood”.

While, sugar cane, soy and cattle take over the landscape in the southwest of Mato Grosso do Sul, it is impossible to ensure a healthy livelihood for the Kaiowá and Guarani. They have no access to drinkable water, no protection from agro-chemical contamination, and no adequate conditions for planting, hunting or fishing. The conditions are violent and the Kaiowá and Guarani people are in a precarious position. In the name of global development, progress and sustainability, the silent genocide of one of the largest ethnic groups in the country is taking place.

“Earth, life, justice and demarcation!” – the cry of the Kaiowá and Guarani people.The Conversation

About The Author

Francesca Fois, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Aberystwyth University and Silvio Marcio Montenegro Machado, Lecturer in Human Geography, Instituto Federal de Educação, Ciência e Tecnologia Baiano - Campus Santa Inês

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Related Books

Climate Leviathan: A Political Theory of Our Planetary Future

by Joel Wainwright and Geoff Mann
1786634295How climate change will affect our political theory—for better and worse. Despite the science and the summits, leading capitalist states have not achieved anything close to an adequate level of carbon mitigation. There is now simply no way to prevent the planet breaching the threshold of two degrees Celsius set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. What are the likely political and economic outcomes of this? Where is the overheating world heading? Available On Amazon

Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis

by Jared Diamond
0316409138Adding a psychological dimension to the in-depth history, geography, biology, and anthropology that mark all of Diamond's books, Upheaval reveals factors influencing how both whole nations and individual people can respond to big challenges. The result is a book epic in scope, but also his most personal book yet. Available On Amazon

Global Commons, Domestic Decisions: The Comparative Politics of Climate Change

by Kathryn Harrison et al
0262514311Comparative case studies and analyses of the influence of domestic politics on countries' climate change policies and Kyoto ratification decisions. Climate change represents a “tragedy of the commons” on a global scale, requiring the cooperation of nations that do not necessarily put the Earth's well-being above their own national interests. And yet international efforts to address global warming have met with some success; the Kyoto Protocol, in which industrialized countries committed to reducing their collective emissions, took effect in 2005 (although without the participation of the United States). Available On Amazon

enafarzh-CNzh-TWdanltlfifrdeiwhihuiditjakomsnofaplptruesswsvthtrukurvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook icontwitter iconyoutube iconinstagram iconpintrest iconrss icon

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

POLITICS

A row of male and female speakers at microphones
234 scientists read 14,000+ research papers to write the upcoming IPCC climate report
by Stephanie Spera, Assistant Professor of Geography and the Environment, University of Richmond
This week, hundreds of scientists from around the world are finalizing a report that assesses the state of the global…
image
Climate explained: how the IPCC reaches scientific consensus on climate change
by Rebecca Harris, Senior Lecturer in Climatology, Director, Climate Futures Program, University of Tasmania
When we say there’s a scientific consensus that human-produced greenhouse gases are causing climate change, what does…
Court Takes Industry Bait, Caves to Fossil Fuels
Court Takes Industry Bait, Caves to Fossil Fuels
by Joshua Axelrod
In a disappointing decision, Judge Terry Doughty of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana ruled…
G7 Embraces Climate Action to Drive Equitable Recovery
G7 Embraces Climate Action to Drive Equitable Recovery
by Mitchell Bernard
At Biden’s urging, his G7 counterparts raised the bar on collective climate action, pledging to cut their carbon…
Climate change: what G7 leaders could have said – but didn't
Climate change: what G7 leaders could have said – but didn't
by Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science, Director of Oxford Net Zero, University of Oxford
The four-day G7 summit in Cornwall ended with little cause for celebration from anyone worried about climate change.…
How world leaders' high-carbon travel choices could delay climate action
How world leaders' high-carbon travel choices could delay climate action
by Steve Westlake, PhD Candidate, Environmental Leadership, Cardiff University
When UK prime minister Boris Johnson took a one-hour flight to Cornwall for the G7 summit, he was criticised for being…
Nuclear industry’s propaganda war rages on
by Paul Brown
With renewable energy expanding fast, the nuclear industry’s propaganda war still claims it helps to combat climate…
Shell ordered to cut its emissions – why this ruling could affect almost any major company in the world
Shell ordered to cut its emissions – why this ruling could affect almost any major company in the world
by Arthur Petersen, Professor of Science, Technology and Public Policy, UCL
The Hague is the seat of government of the Netherlands and also hosts the International Criminal Court. NAPA /…

LATEST VIDEOS

The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
The Great Climate Migration Has Begun
by Super User
The climate crisis is forcing thousands around the world to flee as their homes become increasingly uninhabitable.
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
The Last Ice Age Tells Us Why We Need To Care About A 2℃ Change In Temperature
by Alan N Williams, et al
The latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that without a substantial decrease…
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
Earth Has Stayed Habitable For Billions Of Years – Exactly How Lucky Did We Get?
by Toby Tyrrell
It took evolution 3 or 4 billion years to produce Homo sapiens. If the climate had completely failed just once in that…
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
How Mapping The Weather 12,000 Years Ago Can Help Predict Future Climate Change
by Brice Rea
The end of the last ice age, around 12,000 years ago, was characterised by a final cold phase called the Younger Dryas.…
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
The Caspian Sea Is Set To Fall By 9 Metres Or More This Century
by Frank Wesselingh and Matteo Lattuada
Imagine you are on the coast, looking out to sea. In front of you lies 100 metres of barren sand that looks like a…
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
Venus Was Once More Earth-like, But Climate Change Made It Uninhabitable
by Richard Ernst
We can learn a lot about climate change from Venus, our sister planet. Venus currently has a surface temperature of…
Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
The Five Climate Disbeliefs: A Crash Course In Climate Misinformation
by John Cook
This video is a crash course in climate misinformation, summarizing the key arguments used to cast doubt on the reality…
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
The Arctic Hasn't Been This Warm For 3 Million Years and That Means Big Changes For The Planet
by Julie Brigham-Grette and Steve Petsch
Every year, sea ice cover in the Arctic Ocean shrinks to a low point in mid-September. This year it measures just 1.44…

LATEST ARTICLES

green energy2 3
Four Green Hydrogen Opportunities for the Midwest
by Christian Tae
To avert a climate crisis, the Midwest, like the rest of the country, will need to fully decarbonize its economy by…
ug83qrfw
Major Barrier to Demand Response Needs to End
by John Moore, On Earth
If federal regulators do the right thing, electricity customers across the Midwest may soon be able to earn money while…
trees to plant for climate2
Plant These Trees To Improve City Life
by Mike Williams-Rice
A new study establishes live oaks and American sycamores as champions among 17 “super trees” that will help make cities…
north sea sea bed
Why We Must Understand Seabed Geology To Harness The Winds
by Natasha Barlow, Associate Professor of Quaternary Environmental Change, University of Leeds
For any country blessed with easy access to the shallow and windy North Sea, offshore wind will be key to meeting net…
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
3 wildfire lessons for forest towns as Dixie Fire destroys historic Greenville, California
by Bart Johnson, Professor of Landscape Architecture, University of Oregon
A wildfire burning in hot, dry mountain forest swept through the Gold Rush town of Greenville, California, on Aug. 4,…
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
China Can Meet Energy and Climate Goals Capping Coal Power
by Alvin Lin
At the Leader’s Climate Summit in April, Xi Jinping pledged that China will “strictly control coal-fired power…
Blue water surrounded by dead white grass
Map tracks 30 years of extreme snowmelt across US
by Mikayla Mace-Arizona
A new map of extreme snowmelt events over the last 30 years clarifies the processes that drive rapid melting.
A plane drops red fire retardant on to a forest fire as firefighters parked along a road look up into the orange sky
Model predicts 10-year burst of wildfire, then gradual decline
by Hannah Hickey-U. Washington
A look at the long-term future of wildfires predicts an initial roughly decade-long burst of wildfire activity,…

 Get The Latest By Email

Weekly Magazine Daily Inspiration

New Attitudes - New Possibilities

InnerSelf.comClimateImpactNews.com | InnerPower.net
MightyNatural.com | WholisticPolitics.com | InnerSelf Market
Copyright ©1985 - 2021 InnerSelf Publications. All Rights Reserved.