Marãiwatsédé: the Xavante people can’t wait another 20 years

Image: Adriano Gambarini/OPAN

The Xavante people will go to Rio+20 to demand that Brazil fulfills its promise from Rio 92: to return the indigenous land Marãiwatsédé to them, which has been invaded and devastated by ranchers. Its located in the basin of the Xingu and Araguaia rivers, in the Mato Grosso state.

In 2012, the promise to return the traditional territory Marãiwatsédé to the indigenous Xavante people, is 20 years old. During Rio 92, the direction of the Italian company Agip Petroli, who had bought a large estate within the Indigenous territory, promised, under international pressure, to give the area back to its true and rightful owners.

But 20 years later, the Indians live under constant death threats, in a besieged and devastated small portion of their territory, which they only managed to regain after occupying the roadside for 10 months. They face food security problems and the local authorities have boycotted their access to public services like education and health care. Despite all this, they still find the strength to fight for their right to live on their land and to promote important cultural events, reaffirming the autonomy of the Xavante people.

“We will participate in the Rio +20 to request that the federal and foreign governments keep their promises, and to seek support. Brazil is playing with its indigenous people. Several ethnic groups have been affected. They have been killing indigenous people and reducing their areas. Today, justice only works for those who have money. So therefore nothing happens, they don’t take away neither the leaseholders nor the farmers from our land. It’s a shame. Our country, our justice system. Because everything is very slow. So next month we will make hard demands, we will put pressure on them”, says chief Damian Paridzané, from the Indigenous Land Marãiwatsédé.

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