My friend sent a message saying “…We have to go tonight man; the Guaraní put out a call for support. The police will be coming at 6 a.m. to remove them from their land. They heard the sound of chain saws cutting down trees earlier in the day and occupied the threatened land.”
A November 28, 2017 article in The Guardian noted “The Guaraní people of Jaraguá are squeezed into the smallest parcel of indigenous land in Brazil, two tiny villages, Tekoá Pyau and Tekoá Ytu, in the far north of Latin America’s largest city, São Paulo. About 700 people live in tiny dirt-floor houses on an area the size of four football fields.” The land under seize was still being negotiated with the State; however, developers jumped the gun and began clearing the land to build apartments.
Guided by the full moon of March 9th our band of activist accomplices arrived at Jaraguá around 1:30 a.m. There were campfires of non Guaraní supporters as we approached the main house on the land under seize. Some people slept as others talked + played music around the fires. The house buzzed with activity as young Guaraní warriors pulverized charcoal to mix with water to paint their bodies.
After some time my crew summoned me from the house saying “…Okay man. It’s time to correct the billboard.”
With helicopters and drones overhead and 2 battalions of armed police on the ground Guaraní warriors approached the perimeter of the property to confront agents of the settler state at dawn. Males approached the gate first followed by females who took a position ahead of the men.
With arms interlinked, songs were sung accompanied by a slow rocking back and forth movement. The 6 a.m. deadline came as State surveillance intensified. Guaraní leaders were blessed with tobacco smoke and speeches were made. Ultimately it was decided several hours later to not jeopardize the wellbeing of children and elders. Rather than continuing to occupy the contested land members of the tribe created an encampment in front of the gate blocking developers from entering.
A week later the blockade remains. A luta continua (the struggle continues).
March 17, 2020 update: The Guaraní have halted their occupation as a public health measure in light of the Coronavirus threat.