Brazil: Mob of 200 landowners and police militia kill Pataxó Indigenous leader
Jan 29, 2024
Violence against Indigenous people in Brazil continues to escalate. On January 21, 200 large landowners and members of a police militia used WhatsApp to coordinate an armed attack on the Pataxó people. One of their leaders was killed and her brother was seriously wounded by gunfire. The violence stems from land disputes and resource exploitation.
On January 21, large landowners from a self-styled “Invasão Zero” (“Zero Invasion”) movement, accompanied by police militia members and other armed men, attacked the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people in the south of the Brazilian state of Bahia, according to our Brazilian partner organization Teia dos Povos (“Network of Peoples”), which reported the attack on Instagram. The Pataxó are members of the network.
The shaman Maria de Fátima Muniz Pataxó (“Nega”) was shot dead during the attack on the Indigenous territory of Caramuru-Catarina Paraguassu. According to Teia dos Povos, her brother Nailton Pataxó, one of Bahia’s oldest and most respected Indigenous leaders, suffered serious gunshot wounds to the leg and hip and was taken to hospital for surgery hours later.
Other Indigenous people were wounded in the attack in the district of Potiraguá, their vehicles set on fire and their cell phones and food supplies destroyed, our partners from Avispa Midia write.
Raid coordinated on WhatsApp
According to the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs, 200 large landowners allegedly gathered through a call on the social media platform WhatsApp to reclaim a piece of land. The meeting point was a bridge over the Rio Pardo river, from where the mob set off in dozens of off-road vehicles and surrounded the area.
The attack is said to be in response to a lawsuit filed by the Indigenous population claiming the land. Teia dos Povos points out that they have already been granted the land by the courts. The Indigenous authority FUNAI, however, has not yet initiated a demarcation process.
According to the Indigenous people, all access to the region has been blocked: “Everything has been sealed off by the police militia and armed men,” Teia dos Povos quotes the Pataxó as saying. “The police militia, pretending to mediate, paved the way for the large landowners to attack the Pataxó people. The landowners shot at the Indigenous people in the presence of the Bahia police militia, with their consent, and later with their participation.
Police militia involved in the attack
Federal and local prosecutors in Bahia have said that an armed militia of military police officers was involved in the killing of three Indigenous youths in 2022. Because of the involvement of police officers in the attack, the Brazilian government is apparently seeking to deploy the national armed forces to the region.
According to media reports, two large landowners were arrested for “homicídio”, i.e. manslaughter or murder. According to a civil police investigator in Itapetinga, the fatal shot was fired by the son of one of the landowners.
On December 21, 2023, the leader of the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people, Lucas Santos Oliveira, was killed in an ambush as he returned with his son to the Indigenous land of Caramuru-Catarina Paraguassu. According to the Brazilian federal prosecutor’s office, a total of 51 Indigenous Pataxó were murdered in Bahia between 2012 and 2022.
In a speech, Brazilian President Lula da Silva expressed solidarity with the relatives of the murdered Indigenous woman and said that the federal government was available to help the governor of Bahia and the Indigenous people find a peaceful solution.
The Minister of Indigenous Affairs, Sonia Guajajara, traveled to Bahia on Monday to show solidarity and accompany the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe Indigenous people at the wake of Nega Pataxó. She also spoke with the wounded Indigenous leader Nailton and other Indigenous people in the hospital.
Legislation undermines Indigenous peoples’ land rights
The Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) condemned the armed aggression in a statement and stressed the importance of ensuring the demarcation of Indigenous territories to resolve the growing land conflicts in Brazil. The APIB deplores the increasing violence by perpetrated by landowners and agribusiness lobbyists who assert, among other things, that “fake Indians” are claiming land.
The Indigenous association and the Indigenous Missionary Council CIMI refer to Federal Law 14.701/2023 passed by the Brazilian Congress in December: “It has given even more impetus to large landowners, businessmen and politicians to attack Indigenous communities and try to forcibly evict families from their traditional lands”.
Brazilian President Lula da Silva vetoed the legislative initiative, known as “Marco temporal”, because it undermines the protection of Indigenous peoples’ territorial rights. But in December, the Brazilian Congress, which is dominated by agribusiness lobbyists, overrode his veto and signed the bill into law.
The APIB has asked the Federal Supreme Court to overturn the law – which Indigenous people have called a “genocide law” – on the grounds that it is unconstitutional and violates the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Caramuru-Catarina ParaguassuTerras Indigenas no Brasil/ISA, 2024. Terra Indígena Caramuru / Paraguassu: https://terrasindigenas.org.br/pt-br/terras-indigenas/3791
Avispa MidiaAvispa Midia, Jan. 23, 2024. TERRORISMO DE ESTADO. Ataque de terratenientes y paramilitares cobra la vida de indígena Pataxó en Bahía: https://avispa.org/ataque-de-terratenientes-y-paramilitares-cobra-la-vida-de-indigena-en-bahia/
Ministerio dos Povos In dígenas, Jan. 21, 2024. NOTA OFICIAL. Indígena do povo Pataxó Hã Hã Hãe assassinada em retomada no sul da Bahia: https://www.gov.br/povosindigenas/pt-br/assuntos/notas-oficiais/2024/01/indigena-do-povo-pataxo-ha-ha-hae-assassinada-em-retomada-no-sul-da-bahia
Metro.com, Jan. 23, 2024. Ação com cerca de 200 fazendeiros que resultou na morte de indígena na Bahia foi planejada pelo WhatsApp: https://www.metro1.com.br/noticias/bahia/145440,acao-com-cerca-de-200-fazendeiros-que-resultou-na-morte-de-indigena-na-bahia-foi-planejada-pelo-whatsapp
Ponte do Rio Pardo of the highway BA 270, coordinates -15.519782246348404, -39.875089826184144)
Ministério Público Federal, Jan. 22, 2024. DPU, DPE-BA e MPF manifestam preocupação com ataques aos povos indígenas na Bahia: https://www.mpf.mp.br/ba/sala-de-imprensa/noticias-ba/dpu-dpe-ba-e-mpf-manifestam-preocupacao-com-ataques-aos-povos-indigenas-na-bahia
Estadao.com, Jan. 23, 2024. Fazendeiros são presos após morte de indígena a tiros na Bahia: https://www.estadao.com.br/brasil/fazendeiros-sao-presos-apos-morte-de-indigena-a-tiros-na-bahia/
Nexo Jornal, Jan. 22, 2024. Arma de filho de fazendeiro matou indígena na Bahia: https://www.nexojornal.com.br/extra/2024/01/24/arma-de-filho-de-fazendeiro-matou-indigena-na-bahia
killed in an ambushConselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI), Jan. 22, 2024. Em 2024, violência contra os povos indígenas persiste no Sul e Extremo Sul da Bahia: https://cimi.org.br/2024/01/em-2024-violencia-contra-os-povos-indigenas-persiste-no-sul-e-extremo-sul-da-bahia/
51 Indigenous Pataxó were murderedProcuradoria-Geral da República, Jan. 23, 2024. NOTA PÚBLICA n.o 1/2024 - 6aCCR/MPF. Ref.: Violência praticada contra o povo Indígena Pataxó Hã Hã Hãe no município de Potiraguá, sul da Bahia: https://www.mpf.mp.br/pgr/arquivos/2024/nota-publica-6ccr-pataxo-ha-ha-hae/at_download/file
Estadao.com, Jan. 23, 2024. Lula diz que governo quer achar ‘solução pacífica’ para conflito de terra após morte de indígena: https://www.estadao.com.br/politica/lula-diz-que-governo-quer-achar-solucao-pacifica-para-conflito-de-terra-apos-morte-de-indigena/
Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB)Articulación de los Pueblos Indígenas de Brasil - APIB, Jan. 21, 2024. Pajé do povo Pataxó Hã-hã-hãe é assassinada durante ataque de fazendeiros e PMs à retomada na Bahia: https://apiboficial.org/2024/01/22/paje-do-povo-pataxo-ha-ha-hae-e-assassinada-durante-ataque-de-fazendeiros-e-pms-a-retomada-na-bahia/
Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI), Jan. 22, 2024. Em 2024, violência contra os povos indígenas persiste no Sul e Extremo Sul da Bahia: https://cimi.org.br/2024/01/em-2024-violencia-contra-os-povos-indigenas-persiste-no-sul-e-extremo-sul-da-bahia/