Corporate Developers Seize Indigenous Lands in Brazil and Hire Hit Men to Murder Residents
The number of indigenous people killed in Brazil in connection to huge development projects is on the rise.
By Santiago Navarro F., Renata Bessi

In an effort to make way for new investment projects, the Brazilian government and transnational corporations have been taking over ancestral indigenous lands, triggering a rise in murders of indigenous people in Brazil.

According to the report, “Violence Against Indigenous People in Brazil,” recently published by the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI by its Portuguese initials), the number of indigenous people killed in the country grew 42 percent from 2013 to 2014; 138 cases were officially registered. The majority of the murders were carried out by hit men hired by those with economic interests in the territories.

The states of Mato Grosso del Sur, Amazonas and Bahía figure heavily in the statistics. An emblematic case was the brutal killing of the indigenous woman Marinalva Kaiowá, in November of 2014. She lived in recovered territories, land that for over 40 years has been claimed by the Guaraní people as the land of their ancestors. Marinalva was assassinated - stabbed 35 times - two weeks after attending a protest with other indigenous leaders at the Federal Supreme Court in the Federal District of Brasilia. The group was protesting a court ruling that annulled the demarcation process in the indigenous territory of the Guyraroká. …
Hundreds Gather at Oak Flat to Fight for Sacred Apache Land
As the morning sun rose high enough to burn off the chilly overnight temperatures, mesquite fires scattered throughout the Oak Flat Campground offered a warm welcome to a speciaMore than 300 people gathered at Oak Flat on Saturday February 6 to protest the awarding of Apache Sacred Site to Resolution Copper.

How can you just give away land as if it were some sort of ribbon to be won?

Rising Tensions in Bolivia Over Oil and Gas Exploitation on Indigenous Lands

Rising Tensions in Bolivia Over Oil and Gas Exploitation on Indigenous Lands

from Intercontinental Cry On August 19, members of the People’s Guarani Assembly of Takova Mora blocked a main highway in the Chaco region of Bolivia demanding their right to free, prior and informed consent regarding oil extraction on their communal lands. The Government responded by sending in 300 police who broke up the demonstration by force. Using tear gas and batons, police then raided the…

View On WordPress


‘We Will Fight to the End’: Munduruku Resistance to the Destruction of their Homelands

This is Munduruku land.

The signs are man-made specks in an ocean of nature but are harbingers of a battle to come. It is a fight between the Munduruku, who have long sanctified this river, and Brazil’s government, which plans to flood much of this land to build a $9.9 billion hydroelectric dam, the São Luiz do Tapajós. The dam is one of seven planned for this river and part of a wider strategy across the Amazon that the energy ministry says is necessary to sate the country’s growing need for power. But the Munduruku say they have a constitutional right to remain on their territory — and that the government is refusing to acknowledge it, in violation of the law. […]

“We will fight to the end,” said Juarez Saw Munduruku. “This is our struggle. … I would die defending my land so that another generation can live here.”



Native Americans have endured years of misrepresentation by the media. Whether in TV, film, print or online, the stories we tell — or refuse to tell — about indigenous peoples have not only enshrined harmful stereotypes, but fueled centuries of land graft, state violence and containment. It’s happening still. Already this summer, there have been multiple stories of government harm to Native land.
Brazil: Court orders mining company to stop building railway that would affect the Awá indigenous people's hunting grounds
“Things are much better now – Awá Brasil - Efforts to stop a railway being expanded along the forests of uncontacted Awá have finally paid off!”, 24 July 2015

A judge has ordered Brazil’s largest mining company to stop work on a project which sees some of the world’s longest trains plough through the Amazon with their cargo of iron ore –just meters from the Awá’s hunting grounds.

This is an incredible victory for the Awá, and marks another success for the global movement for tribal peoples’ rights.

Last year, your letters and emails pushed Brazil into launching a huge operation to save the Awá by removing all invaders from their territory. This latest ruling gives even more hope to the 100 Awá who remain uncontacted.

Keep reading


August 19 2015 - Indigenous protesters from the Achuar and Shuar peoples in Ecuador clashed with police and soldiers in the southeast of the country with eight soldiers reportedly injured. The protesters are angry about a lack of consultation as their land is being exploited for gold mining and oil drilling.
Philippines' Aeta people 'beggars' in their own land
The government has yet to define the boundaries of many ancestral lands for indigenous peoples, fuelling fears of encroachment by private developers

The government has yet to define the boundaries of many ancestral lands for indigenous peoples, fuelling fears of encroachment by private developers

ZAMBALES, Philippines – Philippine bush man Edward Serrano struck two rocks together and wrapped the faint spark in wood shavings, building a fire in much the same way a Stone Age man must have done two million years ago.

The short, Afroed jungle survival instructor is an Aeta, from one of the most unique ethnolinguistic peoples of the Philippines who are also the archipelago’s first known inhabitants.

But after they have hunted and gathered for most of the past 40,000 years, their bushcraft is nearly forgotten, many of their languages are all but extinct, and their way of life is swiftly dying out.

Rapid urbanization has turned tiny Aeta forest settlements north of Manila into virtual islands, their nomadic lifestyle shut down as the deer, warthog, and jungle fowl they hunt for food are extirpated.

“We can no longer do many of the things that our ancestors took for granted,” said Serrano, a high school dropout who teaches soldiers and police how to make fire without matches or lighters.

He teaches them where to look for water, should they get lost in the jungle, and which leaves, fruits, and seeds are safe to eat – skills he learned from his father.

Sapang Uwak (which means Crow Creek), his sun-baked village in the foothills of the Pinatubo volcano in Zambales province, about two hours’ drive from Manila, showcases both the old way of life – and the disruption of the new.

Languid water buffaloes pull carts filled with bananas and taro along dirt roads, parched river beds, and forests that the community of 1,700 people claim as their ancestral domain.

But to leave their village to take their produce to market or find work as farmhands or construction workers, they have to pass through a giant private entertainment park.

‘Aliens in our own country’

A 1997 law recognized the rights of some 15 million ethnic minorities to their ancestral lands, and Sapang Uwak and nearby Aeta settlements have filed claims on a combined 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres).

However, the government has yet to define the boundaries of many areas, fuelling fears of encroachment by private developers, said Roman King, leader of an association of Aeta communities.

“We were the first peoples of the Philippines, but now we are aliens in our own country,” said King, a retired policeman from the nearby settlement of Inararo.

“If we lose our lands, we have nowhere else to go…. You’ll see more of us begging in the streets,” he said.

Most of the Philippines’ estimated 7 million Aetas live in tiny, isolated communities, engaged in slash-and-burn farming – clearing forests for fields – moving with the seasons and with limited contact with the outside world.

Aside from Sapang Uwak, 3 other Pinatubo Aeta communities have won titles to 39,000 hectares, giving the families steady cash from land leased to quarries, golf courses, and tourist resorts.

But it is a cumbersome process and typically takes years to complete, said Jonathan Adaci, director of the ancestral domains office at the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.

A mere 180 titles have been handed out nationwide, with some 5 million other claims still being processed, Adaci said.

By law ancestral domains cannot be bought nor sold, but this has not stopped outsiders from mysteriously obtaining titles.

“At times there are some powerful people in government involved,” he told Agence France-Presse, declining to give names.

Unscrupulous people talk uneducated Aetas into parting with their land inheritance for a pittance, said Cynthia Zayas, a University of the Philippines anthropologist.

“Private developers are eating up their land. The way it’s turning out, they could become squatters in their own land,” Zayas added.

The Aetas of Sapang Uwak are dismayed at the delays, but feel helpless, said survival instructor Serrano, a father of 7 in his late 30s.

“We’ve been pushed out in the past. We do not want that to happen to us again,” he told Agence France-Presse.

'They never fight back’

Philippine minorities have been progressively elbowed out since the late 16th century as first Spain and later the United States colonized the islands, introducing the concept of property titles, Zayas said.

“They never fight back…. The Aeta will just run to the mountains. They’re a passive people and they don’t like violence,” she added.

For the Pinatubo Aetas, the 1991 volcanic eruption that killed more than 600 people only made their plight worse.

Deprived of their farms as well as game to hunt, about 35,000 Aetas moved to shelters clustered close to the main towns, according to government data.

Many never left, with families reduced to begging on the roadsides.

“They also started to adopt the values of the lowlanders, they buy junk food, eat all these processed food and acquire the illnesses of lowlanders like high blood pressure and diabetes,” Zayas said.

Getting formal titles to their ancestral lands is not enough and Aetas must learn new skills by going to school, said Adaci of the ancestral domains office.

“If they embrace the mainstream they should have more stability, but that means they will no longer be able to roam,” he added.

Sapang Uwak children now go to school, but most are slow starters. Teachers often buy their pupils pencils and pads out of their own pockets, said first grade teacher Betsy Lozano.

“It’s a difficult existence because their parents do not really have stable incomes,” she told Agence France-Presse. – Cecil Morella, AFP/

Watch on

Bolivians Clash With Police Over Plans To Build Highway Through Indigenous Land

Hundreds of Bolivian protesters have clashed with police in the capital La Paz, angry over plans to build a highway through protected indigenous land.

Demonstrators marched some 600 kilometres on foot to the capital city, a journey that took two months. They came from Bolivia’s eastern Amazonian lowlands to protest the proposed $420m project.

We want to show that there’s been a decision by the marchers to stay here in the seat of government, to show that there’s still an option of talks here if this problem isn’t fixed,” said Adolfo Chavez, one of the protesters.

Organisers say there could be more violence if the government doesn’t back down from the project.

As a woman of color, I refuse to:

  • Not show self-love just because it is wrongly misinterpreted as arrogance.
  • Dumb myself down.
  • Entertain anyone who does not evolve me mentally.
  • Be humble about how the sun was created to compliment my skin, and soak in all its glory.
  • Allow Victoria Secret to define what beauty is to me.
  • Shave solely for male consumption.
  • Put on make-up for anyone but myself.
  • Respect liberal politicians who support the occupation of indigenous peoples’ land …ahem Bernie Sanders…ahem.
  • Tolerate individuals that compliment me by putting another woman down.
  • Explain myself.
  • Smile when I do not feel the need to.
  • Remain silent to make people comfortable.
  • Associate with white feminism that quickly recognizes catcalling, yet remains mute on the oppression and murder of women of color by the prison-industrial complex and police brutality.
  • Not flip you off when you mock an accent.
  • Limit my creativity when it comes to the way I dress.
  • APOLOGIZE FOR TAKING UP SPACE. I am not invisible in my physical being or my intellectual presence. I require narratives to be inclusive of my experiences.
Indigenous Community Wins Land Rights Victory in Guatemala After 200 Years of Struggle
Success is rare among indigenous peoples' struggles for land rights in Guatemala. But the nearly 300 Poqomchi' Maya families that make up the Primavera com

Success is rare among indigenous peoples’ struggles for land rights in Guatemala. But the nearly 300 Poqomchi’ Maya families that make up the Primavera communities in the department of Alta Verapaz have just won a significant victory.

On July 14, community representatives and the Guatemalan Land Fund signed documents to officially recognize three communities that have called the land home for centuries. In the face of eviction, the communities negotiated a settlement with the Guatemalan Minister of the Interior, the Secretary of Agrarian Affairs, and representatives from Maderas Filips Dias/Eco-Tierra, the logging business seeking to harvest the land’s forests.

In the end, the logging company ceded nearly 800 hectares of land, with the Guatemalan secretary of agrarian affairs overseeing the titling of the land to the families of the communities.

“This is a major victory, especially under these conditions of corruption,” said Rony Morales from the Union of Veracruz Campesino Organizations (UVOC), which worked closely with the communities to obtain this victory. “The fact [that] a community can finally win their land at no cost to the community is very important. For the other indigenous communities in San Cristobal Verapaz and the valley [of] Polochic that are in this same process, they have found hope in this victory.”

The communities held a celebration on July 31 to commemorate the victory, the culmination of centuries of struggle.  During the celebration, the community unveiled a plaque to commemorate the struggle for the land.

From today on, the communities will be known by the Poqomchi’ name Belejeb E.

Keep reading

Decolonize Wall Street: An Open Letter to the Occupy Wall Street Activists

September 24, 2011

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for making an attempt to improve the situation in what is now called the United States. Thank you for your commitment to peace and non-violence. Thank you for the sacrifices you are making. Thank you.

There’s just one thing. I am not one of the 99 percent that you refer to. And, that saddens me. Please don’t misunderstand me. I would like to be one of the 99 percent… but you’ve chosen to exclude me. Perhaps it was unintentional, but, I’ve been excluded by you. In fact, there are millions of us indigenous people who have been excluded from the Occupy Wall Street protest. Please know that I suspect that it was an unintentional exclusion on your part. That is why I’m writing to you. I believe that you can make this right. (I hope you’re still smiling.)

It seems that ever since we indigenous people have discovered Europeans and invited them to visit with us here on our land, we’ve had to endure countless ’-isms’ and religions and programs and social engineering that would “fix” us. Protestantism, Socialism, Communism, American Democracy, Christianity, Boarding Schools, Residential Schools,… well, you get the idea. And, it seems that these so-called enlightened strategies were nearly always enacted and implemented and pushed upon us without our consent. And, I’ll assume that you’re aware of how it turned out for us. Yes. Terribly.

Which brings me back to your mostly-inspiring Occupy Wall Street activities. On September 22nd, with great excitement, I eagerly read your “one demand” statement. Hoping and believing that you enlightened folks fighting for justice and equality and an end to imperialism, etc., etc., would make mention of the fact that the very land upon which you are protesting does not belong to you - that you are guests upon that stolen indigenous land. I had hoped mention would be made of the indigenous nation whose land that is. I had hoped that you would address the centuries-long history that we indigenous peoples of this continent have endured being subject to the countless ’-isms’ of do-gooders claiming to be building a “more just society,” a “better world,” a “land of freedom” on top of our indigenous societies, on our indigenous lands, while destroying and/or ignoring our ways of life. I had hoped that you would acknowledge that, since you are settlers on indigenous land, you need and want our indigenous consent to your building anything on our land - never mind an entire society. See where I’m going with this? I hope you’re still smiling. We’re still friends, so don’t sweat it. I believe your hearts are in the right place. I know that this whole genocide and colonization thing causes all of us lots of confusion sometimes. It just seems to me that you’re unknowingly doing the same thing to us that all the colonizers before you have done: you want to do stuff on our land without asking our permission.

But, fear not my friends. We indigenous people have a sense of humor. So, I thought I might make a few friendly suggestions which may help to “fix” the pro-colonialism position in which you now (hopefully, unintentionally) find yourselves. (Please note my use of the word “fix” in the previous sentence. That’s an attempt at a joke. You can refer to the third paragraph if you’d like an explanation.)

By the way, I’m just one indigenous person. I represent no one except myself. I’m acting alone in writing this letter. Perhaps none of my own Nishnaabe people will support me in having written this. Perhaps some will. I respect their opinions either way. I love my Nishnaabe people always. I am simply trying to do something good - same as all of you at the Occupy Wall Street protest in what is now called New York.

So, here goes. (You’re still smiling, right?)

1) Acknowledge that the United States of America is a colonial country, a country of settlers, built upon the land of indigenous nations; and/or…

2) Demand immediate freedom for indigenous political prisoner Leonard Peltier; and/or…

3) Demand that the colonial government of the United States of America honor all treaties signed with all indigenous nations whose lands are now collectively referred to as the “United States of America”; and/or…

4) Make some kind of mention that you are indeed aware that you are settlers and that you are not intending to repeat the mistakes of all of the settler do-gooders that have come before you. In other words, that you are willing to obtain the consent of indigenous people before you do anything on indigenous land.

I hope you find this list useful. I eagerly await your response, my friends.

Miigwech! ( ~“Thank you!” )

JohnPaul Montano

Honduras: Garifuna communities resist eviction and theft of land
Pristine beaches, clear Caribbean waters, coral reefs, fertile land ... such is the homeland of the Garifuna people, writes Jeff Abbott. It's so lovely that outsiders are desperate to seize ever more of their territory to develop for mass tourism, oil palm plantations, illicit drug production ... and the land grabs have the full support of Honduras military government, backed to the hilt by Uncle Sam.

Along the Atlantic coast of Honduras, Afro-Caribbean Garifuna communities are being forced from their land, as proposals for the creation of mega-tourism projects and corporate-run cities, commonly referred to as ‘model cities’, gain momentum internationally.

Congress is set to vote on one such plan this summer. Originally proposed by Vice President Joseph Biden in January, the plan would provide the governments of Central America $1 billion - on top of previously existing aid agreements - to bring further investment into the region.

While the stated goal is to improve security and generate opportunity to combat the so-called root causes of illegal migration, Biden’s plan is essentially a continuation of the Central American Free Trade Agreement and Plan Mesoamerica.

And Biden’s plan will only make it easier for multinational corporations to invest in more community-damaging mega-development projects throughout the region.

As critics have pointed out, the plans create negative blowback for the people of the region, including increased social conflict and environmental destruction.

“The United States government is funding our government to evict us”, said Angel Castro, a resident of the Garifuna community of Vallecito. “They are not here to support the people of African descent, let alone the people of Honduras.”

Keep reading