Since 1986, 863 young Brazilian Natives of the Guarani-Kaiowá ethnicity committed suicide in the Dourados reservation, in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul, right in the heart of the country, an area surrounded by armed landowners that claim the land. The majority of the kids that died was between 12 and 24 years old and chose to hang themselves or to ingest pesticides.
The numbers are particularly high if you consider the size of the Guarani-Kaiowá population: 31 thousand, according to Funai, the national agency for Native affairs.
The suicides are partly a consequence of the violent environment where this kids live. According to Conselho Indigenista Missionário, one of the main non-profits dealing with Native rights in the country, the murder rate in Dourados is 145 per 100 thousand people. In Iraq it is 93 per 100 thousand.
The death toll is bound to grow soon – the Federal Justice decided that a group of 170 Natives living in the municipality of Iguatemi, by the Hovy river, will have to leave the land. Their answer: a suicide pact. If they are effectively expelled, they will kill themselves.
This video in English, with a few interviews, was released today. It sums up the drama: