Survival International reports that Brazilian authorities have written Shell Oil expressing concern over the activities of its new Brazilian joint-venture partner, which is producing biofuels from land taken from an impoverished Indian tribe.
In August, Shell signed a $12 billion deal to produce biofuels from sugar cane with a Brazilian company – Cosan. But some of Cosan’s sugar cane is grown on land officially recognized as belonging to Guarani Indians.
A Brazilian prosecutor with power to defend Indigenous rights, wrote Shell warning that its involvement in the joint venture ‘jeopardizes the company’s commitment to biodiversity and sustainability’.
Ambrosio Vilhalva, is from the community affected by Cosan’s activities. He spoke about the sugar cane plantations that have swallowed much of his tribe’s lands: ‘The sugar cane plantations are finishing off the Indians. Our lands are getting smaller and smaller. The plantations are killing the Indians.’
Earlier this month, the UN’s expert on Indigenous rights published a report which said he is ‘deeply concerned about the allegations of violence against the Guarani people and the severe impact that the aggressive policy of governments in the past to sell large tracts of traditional lands to non-indigenous farmers has had on the Guarani communities.’
According to Survivial International lmost all Guarani land has already been stolen to make way for cattle ranches, soy plantations and sugar cane. The Guarani suffer violent attacks whenever they attempt to return to their ancestral territories. Their leaders are frequently targeted by gunmen and dozens have been assassinated. The tribe has one of the highest suicide rates in the world, and babies are dying from malnutrition because the tribe has no land to cultivate or hunt on.