Information

History of the Garani village in FYROM


I'm interested in the origins of the Garani (Гарани, Garana) village located in the west of the former Yugoslav Republic Of Macedonia (FYROM).

What is the origin/etymology of the name? When do we estimate its foundation date is?

There are also 3 villages with this name in Belarus and one in Russia. Is there any connection?

I haven't found any information in English, except for the French Wikipedia article. There's a bit more info in the Albanian one and we can assume that the village is at least 500 years old. I have no knowledge of Macedonian, Albanian or Russian so I'm very limited in my research…

French Wikipedia article on Garani
Russian Wikipedia article


It appears this may be based on Gorani, which are an ethnic group found throughtout the Gora Region. (Searching led to one site which stated Gorani as an alternate to Garani). The village name may also just refer to location, as the translation for Gorani is 'highlanders', and Gora means mountains. So this may just be regional for 'Mountain village'.

The reference to the Gora region, even though this village is not within it, is for a possible root to the name of the village, or possibly a namesake type situation. The U.S. is full of towns that were named, by their founders, after their home towns in England or Europe. Perhaps the founders of Garani came from this region or were of that ethnic group.


A Guide to Guaraní, Paraguay’s Indigenous People

Paraguay has one of the most homogenous populations in South America. In the great settlement of the continent in the 16 th century by the Spanish, Paraguay’s Guaraní had their lands taken and their identity shaken. But among the ashes of religious missions and colonization, the country’s indigenous people clung on to their heritage, which lives on today in their language and customs.

The name Guaraní was given to Paraguay’s indigenous people by the Spanish Jesuit missionaries who flooded the country in the 1530s – as long as they agreed to convert to Christianity. Those who didn’t were called Cayua, or “those from the jungle.” Before their contact with the Europeans, Paraguayan tribes simply called themselves abá, meaning people.

Early Guaraní people made the forests of eastern Paraguay their home, farming the lands and living in tribal villages of around 15 families. According to some historians, the Guaraní were highly territorial, fought many wars and even sacrificed their enemies after battle. It’s thought that they headed inland towards the Río de la Plata in the 1300s, though communities like the Apapocuva were discovered living on the northeast border with Brazil as late as the 1990s.

Many Guaraní customs were obscured by Spanish colonization in the 16 th century, though some intriguing clues have survived. They believed in a divine creator and destroyer called Ñamandú, who ruled over a pantheon of gods, including Tupã, creator of light, Yaci, ruler of night, and Aña, river dweller. Their legends told of elf-like creatures who lived in the forest and of humans that could transform into animals or plants, while Iguazú Falls was a sacred place, thought to represent the sound of war.

After the Spanish took over in the mid-1500s, many southern Guaraní tribes were brought into their Jesuit settlements, educated in Catholicism, reading and writing and put to work. Others had their lands confiscated and were taken as slaves to Brazil. By the early 18 th century the population had dwindled to just a few hundred thousand, taking another hit by the 1760s thanks to several outbreaks of smallpox. After the expulsion of the Jesuits and the decline of the missions into the early 19 th century, the Guaraní established themselves as merchants, writers and soldiers, moving away from tribal life but never relinquishing their language and their heritage.

The Guaraní language comes from a branch of the Tupian linguistic group. Dialects varied up and down the country, as tribes spread out along the riverbanks. Now, Guaraní is spoken by 95 percent of the population and is thought to be more widespread and deeply understood than Spanish. In fact, some English words – jaguar, tapioca and toucan – all have their roots in Guaraní.

Today, Paraguay’s Guaraní population numbers around five million. Their heritage is revered, expressed in music, food and customs. Embroidery and lace-making have endured, as has Paraguayan polka, played on the traditional harp. Dishes like chipá, a cake-like patty made from corn, mandioca, cheese and eggs, are found on menus all over the country. Deeply proud and fiercely patriotic, Paraguay is a country where history can be seen in action every day.


About this page

APA citation. Mooney, J. (1910). Guaraní Indians. In The Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07045a.htm

MLA citation. Mooney, James. "Guaraní Indians." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07045a.htm>.

Transcription. This article was transcribed for New Advent by M. Donahue.


Guaranis and Jesuits

The territory we currently identify as “Guarani” is presently divided between Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay. Although this partition of a community across national boundaries is a historical phenomenon more common than most assume, there is something particularly telling in this case. The location of the Guaranis near what would become a border between the rival empires of Spain and Portugal and then the various competing Latin American states was not accidental. Instead, it was directly related to who they were, how they came to be, and what were their relations with the powers that sought to dominate their territories from as early as the 16th century.

The first Spaniards who arrived to the region in the 1530s registered the existence of various native groups with distinct denominations such as the Chandules, Carios, Tobatines, Guarambarenses, and Itatines (to mention just a few examples). According to their narratives, the members of these groups lived in an extended territory between the rivers Paraguay, Paraná and Uruguay. Spanish reports admitted that members of these groups were distinguished from one another, but nevertheless suggested that they shared sociocultural traits and a language. Subjected to encomienda (an institution that in theory sanctioned their work for Spaniards in exchange for conversion and military protection) the Guarani became allies first, vassals of Spain second.

It was during this period—the late 16th century—that Spanish documentation began to categorize the members of these diverse groups as “Guarani.” It was also during this period that, through their interaction with Europeans, the members of these groups enhanced their relations with one another, gradually forming a single community and a single language, now identified as “colonial” or “creole” Guarani. Pervasive processes of mixing and cultural change also lead to the diffusion of some of these shared sociocultural traits and language to other individuals inhabiting the area, including descendants of Spaniards and mestizos.

The emergence of “the Guarani” as a distinct human group was thus tightly connected to colonialism. It was further enhanced by the activities of the Jesuit order, whose members began in the 1600s congregating the natives of the region into missions. By the end of the 17th century, there were some thirty such missions, with a total population of at least 100,000 natives. By the early 18th century, the geographical extension of this Jesuit enterprise was some 150,000 square miles (about the size of California). Nonetheless, while some historians portrayed the Guarani as passive receptors of European-imposed processes of change and ethnogenesis, a new historiography suggests that the Guarani were active participants in the developments that led to their formation, evolution, categorization and change. This new historiography further argues that their location in a contested area between rival powers and states greatly influenced the way these mutations happened because, by inhabiting a region that was to become a frontier, the Guarani had a greater freedom to negotiate who they were and who they would become.

The best-known episode in this longer story of how territorial conflicts between empires and states allowed natives a greater independence and a greater agency were the events that followed the signing of the Treaty of Madrid in 1750. In that treaty, which determined how Spain and Portugal would divide the South American continent between them, the Spanish king promised to evacuate all the settlements that were founded on the territory recognized as Portuguese. Among other things, this promise implied the obligation to evacuate seven Jesuit missions with some 30,000 Guaranis. The treaty made special arrangements for this evacuation, specifying that the missionaries would abandon the missions with their residents (the Guaranis), who would thereafter be resettled elsewhere within the territories recognized as Spanish. While residents and Jesuits could take with them all moveable goods, the houses, buildings, churches and lands would remain intact and would be transferred to Portugal.

Unsurprisingly, news of this agreement stirred an uproar. Discussions regarding its legality and wisdom took place both in the Spanish court and the Americas. The Jesuits sent missives to the Spanish king, first asking him not to sign the treaty and then criticizing him for ignoring their plea. Natives residing in the missions also protested against the order of evacuation. In a famous letter dated 1753 and written in Guaraní, Nicolás Ñenguirú, leader of one of the Guaraní communities, asked the governor of Buenos Aires if the news was accurate. He suggested that outrageous as they were, the instructions must be the result of a Portuguese plot, not the genuine mandate of the Spanish king. After all, Spanish monarchs knew better. They had always thanked the Guaraní for their loyalty and service, and always promised them not only rewards but also protection. Under these circumstances, how could a Spanish king order an evacuation, which surely would cause the Guarani great harm, expelling them from their lands in order to give them to the Portuguese? How could the king mandate that they give away all that they had achieved by their labor? If such were the case, what was the point of bringing them to the mission in the first place? In his letter, Ñenguirú described the growing rage in his community and confessed that he could no longer control his men, who refused to listen to his explanations. But he himself was not clear of what he could say as he too did not understand how this could have happened.

Many other Guarani leaders sent similar missives. They also corresponded among themselves and with the Jesuits, trying from as early as 1753 to coordinate a common response. This restiveness was probably the reason why, eventually, most Guaranis refused to abandon their villages. The Spanish and the Portuguese responded to this disobedience with violence, unleashing a war that took place between 1754 and 1756 and led to an enormous death toll and to the destruction and abandonment of most missions. Paradoxically, the difficulties in implementing the treaty of Madrid led to its annulment in 1761, leaving the territory of the Jesuit missions—now in ruin—under Spain.

While many accused the Jesuits of instigating the resistance and indeed believed that they might have written or at least co-authored many of the letters attributed to natives, it is currently agreed that by the mid-18th century the Guaranis had sufficient knowledge and familiarity with things Spanish to write such letters as well as to initiate, organize and carry out resistance. Clearly, by that time, some Guaranis were not only able to read and write, but they also understood that letters were a means of communication as well as a channel to express grievances. Among native elites, there was also an acute awareness of what was at stake and which arguments could carry the day. There was sufficient native political articulation, with substantial collaboration among indigenous people living in different villages. For present-day historians, therefore, rather than attributed to Jesuit long-hand, these events testified to the existence of a Guarani body-politic with a potential for self-government.

How the different Guarani groups acquired this identity, knowledge and grassroots organization is hard to ascertain. Certainly, the various groups shared many traits and communal existence before the arrival of Europeans. However, the presence of Spaniards contributed to the emergence of a Pan-Guarani identity that stressed what was common (rather than what was different). The use of Guarani as the lingua franca of this particular colonial world also led to homogenization, as did the arrival of missionaries and the subjection of many (although not all) Guaranis to a common religious teaching and a common daily discipline. Because of these processes, Guarani, which originally consisted of a family of spoken languages became a single, written language. The congregation in missions also allowed the settling of different Guarani groups in particular places, and the relationship between the diverse missions permitted the intensification of relations between these groups. But it is also possible that what allowed the Guaranis to be identified as a group and be distinguished from other natives was precisely their location on a territory contested among empires and crowns.

Returning to the 1750 episode, the Guaranis who refused to evacuate the missions explained that they would rather fight than leave their lands to the Portuguese, whom they considered their enemies. Identifying themselves as vassals of Spain, the willingness of the Guarani to come to the missions in the first place was probably tied to Spain’s rivalry with Portugal, as well as with other native groups allied with them. In the missions, the Guaranis were protected from serving Spaniards (in encomienda or elsewhere) and received tools and instruction they were also protected from captivity by slave traders from São Paulo, who in the early 17th century expanded their activities to the area the Guaranis inhabited. According to statistics mainly based on Jesuit reports, between 1628 and 1631, for example, some 60,000 mission Indians were captured by these slaving expeditions, which sometime were manned by as many as 2,400 individuals, both native and European. To resist these expeditions, from the 1630s Jesuits armed and militarily trained the Guaranis. The only army present on the border during the 17th and the early 18th century, Guarani soldiers were constantly sent to defend Spanish interests. This military involvement—mainly against the Portuguese—confirmed (to Europeans) the bellicose nature of the Guarani, but it also stressed their proximity to the border and their rivalry with the Portuguese.

Despite claims that Guarani resistance to the evacuation of the missions in the 1750s confirmed the suspicion that they were disloyal to Spain, it is clear that the natives living in the missions initially identified their own interests with the persistence of Spanish presence. Not only did they resist leaving houses, crops and land, they also feared that if they fell under Portuguese control they might be enslaved and their communities dismantled. Yet, if in the 17th century the Guarani chose Spain, later they changed their minds. There are plenty of indications, for example, that during the war following the Treaty of Madrid (1754-1756) perhaps as many as 3,000 Guaranis who were disillusioned with Spain had transferred their loyalty to Portugal. They did so in groups and gradually, as they witnessed the unfolding of the drama that forced them to abandon their missions without clear destination and without royal assistance.

Location on the border thus determined the way the Guarani would be defined and how they would act. Yet, contrary to common narratives, the border did not exist before the Guarani were created as a group, nor were prior-established Jesuit missions caught up in the struggle for hegemony between Spain and Portugal. On the contrary, both the Guaranis and the missions were the instruments by which Spain sought to exercise and increment its control. The reason the border between Spain and Portugal ended up passing back and forth in that region, therefore, was precisely the continuous struggle over the allegiance of the Guarani. It is clear, for example, that during the 18th century Jesuits expanded their territories (and, as a byproduct, those of Spain) by transferring some Guaranis to the eastern bank of the River Uruguay. This politics of population transfer to a territory whose submission to Europeans was not yet determined—it was unclear whether it would fall under one European power or the other—implicated the Guaranis in European debates. The Guaranis, furthermore, were not only to occupy the territory but also to patrol it against Portuguese pretensions. But if initially the Guaranis expressed strong anti-Portuguese sentiments, by the 1750s many of them felt betrayed by Spain (and Jesuits). Aware of these complexities, from the 1750s, the Portuguese attempted to attract these dissatisfied Indians by offering them better treatment, abundant gifts and certain privileges. The Portuguese also intensified commerce with these groups, promising their members that they would be allowed to remain in their villages. Here again, a population transfer had the potential to affect where the border would pass: in 1801 the seven missions became Portuguese not by virtue of a military conquest or an international treaty, but because of the initiative and consent of their Guaraní inhabitants, who now wanted to become Portuguese.


Contents

The word guaraná comes from the Guaraní word guara-ná, which has its origins in the Sateré-Maué word for the plant, warana, [6] that in Guarani means "fruit like the eyes of the people." Or "eyes of the gods"

Guaraná plays an important role in Tupi and Guarani culture. According to a myth attributed to the Sateré-Maué tribe, guaraná's domestication originated with a deity killing a beloved village child. To console the villagers, a more benevolent god plucked the left eye from the child and planted it in the forest, resulting in the wild variety of guaraná. The god then plucked the right eye from the child and planted it in the village, giving rise to domesticated guarana. [7]

The Guaranis make a herbal tea by shelling, washing and drying the seeds, followed by pounding them into a fine powder. The powder is kneaded into a dough and then shaped into cylinders. This product is known as guaraná bread, which is grated and then immersed into hot water along with sugar. [8]

This plant was introduced to European colonizers and to Europe in the 16th century by Felip Betendorf, Oviedo, Hernández, Cobo and other Spaniard chroniclers. [ citation needed ] By 1958, guaraná was commercialized. [8] [9] [ dubious – discuss ]

According to the Biological Magnetic Resonance Data Bank, guaranine (better known as caffeine) is found in guaraná and is identical to caffeine derived from other sources, like coffee, tea, and mate. Guaranine, theine, and mateine are all synonyms for caffeine when the definitions of those words include none of the properties and chemicals of their host plants except caffeine. [10]

Natural sources of caffeine contain widely varying mixtures of xanthine alkaloids other than caffeine, including the cardiac stimulants theophylline, theobromine and other substances such as polyphenols, which can form insoluble complexes with caffeine. [11] [12] The main natural phenols found in guarana are (+)-catechin and (-)-epicatechin. [13]

The table below contains a partial listing of some of the chemicals found in guaraná seeds, [14] [15] although other parts of the plant may contain them as well in varying quantities.

A partial list of the components of guaraná seeds. [14] [15]
Chemical component Parts per million
Adenine
Ash < 14,200
Caffeine 9,100–76,000
Catechutannic-acid
Choline
D-catechin
Fat < 30,000
Guanine
Hypoxanthine
Mucilage
Protein < 98,600
Resin < 70,000
Saponin
Starch 50,000–60,000
Tannin 50,000–120,000
Theobromine 200–400
Theophylline 0–2,500
Timbonine
Xanthine

Safety Edit

In the United States, guaraná fruit powder and seed extract have not been determined for status as "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration, but rather are approved as food additives for flavor (but not non-flavor) uses. [16] [17]

Guaraná is used in sweetened or carbonated soft drinks and energy drinks, an ingredient of herbal teas or contained in dietary supplement capsules. South America obtains much of its caffeine from guaraná. [18]

Beverages Edit

Brazil, the third-largest consumer of soft drinks in the world, [19] produces several soft drink brands from the crushed seeds of guaraná, and which they use like coffee. [20] A fermented drink is also prepared from guaraná seeds, cassava and water. [20] Paraguay is also a producer of guaraná soft drinks with several brands operating in its market. The word guaraná is widely used in Brazil, Peru and Paraguay as a reference to soft drinks containing guaraná extract.


American dominion

The region, as one of the purchase’s most attractive parts—because of trade opportunities—might well have become one of its first states but it was in fact the last. Because of hostile Native Americans, Spanish intrigue, the mislabeling of the region’s treeless plains as the Great American Desert, and the pressure for removal of the Native Americans from the settled East, the U.S. Congress in 1828 reserved Oklahoma for Native Americans and required all others to withdraw. By 1880 more than 60 tribes from other areas of the country—in the 1830s, such Eastern groups as the Creek, Cherokee, and Choctaw, and, in the 1870s, such Plains Indians as the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Kiowa, and Comanche—had been forcibly removed to Indian Territory, where they joined local groups such as the Wichita and Kansa. Among both the original inhabitants and the newcomers, some were sedentary, peaceful, agricultural, and Europeanized (even to the point of owning slaves of African descent), while others were migratory and eager to fight in defense of their land and other interests. The newly defined Indian Territory consisted of five republics, or nations, with fixed boundaries, written constitutions, courts, and other governmental apparatus similar to those of the Eastern states. The major difference was that in each republic all land was held jointly or in severalty by an individual tribe. The first major threat to these governments came when, as former allies of the South during the American Civil War (1861–65), they were placed under military rule during the Reconstruction (1865–77) period.

The Reconstruction treaties required, among other things, land cessions to former slaves, the resettlement of additional outside tribes, and railroad rights-of-way. Although a scheme to colonize free blacks in Oklahoma never materialized, the weakness of the Native American governments encouraged non-Native Americans from adjoining states to trespass. Thus, the territory again became an embattled refuge for Native Americans and an even greater cultural hodgepodge of ethnicities.

The territory’s petroleum deposits were long known to the local Native Americans, who used the oil for medicinal purposes. Oil often oozed to the surface and collected on rocks and bodies of water, and gas seeps betrayed their locations by the inhibition of plant growth in the surrounding areas. Early American explorers and settlers also used the oil and natural gas, but attempts were not made to exploit Oklahoma’s reserves commercially until the 1870s. The territory’s oil boom began in earnest in the early 20th century and was to last until mid-century.


Jesuits Waged War for the Guaraní People

Bandeirantes (slave hunters out of São Paulo) fire back at attacking Botocudos, a term the slavers applied to indigenous people who adorned their lips and earlobes with wooden disks.

Museu Paulista, São Paulo, Brazil

Jorge E. Taracido
September 2019

Though founded by erstwhile soldier Iñigo de Oñaz y Loyola—aka Saint Ignatius of Loyola—the Society of Jesus was not initially a military-religious order. That changed, however, during the 17th and 18th centuries in the Río de la Plata basin of South America. While this militarization gained the Jesuits a century of success in the Spanish colonial province of Paraquaria, it would ultimately help bring about their downfall.

Pope Paul III’s formal confirmation of the Roman Catholic order on Sept. 27, 1540, made Loyola and his Spanish brethren soldiers of Christ. Originally intending to convert Muslims in the Holy Land, Loyola soon shifted the society’s focus to challenge the spread of Protestantism in Europe and seek converts among more accepting people in territories colonized by the Spanish and Portuguese.

To accomplish their objectives, the Jesuits became preeminent educators, establishing colleges to instruct the elite and future leaders of Catholic Europe. Their apostolic zeal also led them to establish missions throughout the Americas and Asia. In addition to their vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, they also swore a vow of obedience to the Pope and resolved to live out their motto, Ad maiorem Dei gloriam (“To the greater glory of God”).

Saint Ignatius of Loyola (Norton Simon Art Foundation)

On Feb. 9, 1604, Jesuit Superior General Claudio Acquaviva ordered the establishment of Paraquaria. Within the province—radiating from the bishopric of Asunción across Paraguay into sections of Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina (the provinces of Misiones and Entre Ríos) and the Brazilian regions of Itatín (part of the present-day state of Mato Grosso do Sul), Guayrá (largely the state of Paraná) and Tapé (the state of Rio Grande do Sul)—the Jesuits evangelized the indigenous peoples and founded mission pueblos known as reducciones (“reductions”). They were tasked with bringing together tribal populations from the surrounding forests to live in communities. At one point 30 missions flourished with more than 140,000 Guaraní inhabitants.

Paraquaria enjoyed a special status within the Spanish empire, as the Jesuits received an exemption from the existing encomienda laws. Under those statutes indigenous people could be compelled to work (though technically not as slaves) for Spanish landowners and overlords as a form of tribute. In Paraquaria the Guaraní were initially exempted from taxes, then paid tribute directly to the Spanish king and enjoyed a measure of self-rule and landownership. Each mission was supervised by two Jesuit priests with veto power over almost all decisions. Elected natives served as a governing body and helped maintain order.

Communal land provided housing for the aged, widows and orphans and for the community as a whole in time of need. Attached to the missions were large estancias (ranches) comprising thousands of acres on which the Jesuits raised cattle and horses. The Jesuits also operated yerbales (plantations of yerba maté, a holly species whose leaves and twigs are used to make tea), giving them a virtual monopoly in the trade of what became known as “Jesuit tea.”

As Guaraní captives look on, bandeirantes pause to drink from a stream during a slave-hunting expedition into Jesuit territory. (Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

Inevitably, the Jesuits’ ownership of immense tracts of land and concentration of the indigenous population in the missions created conflicts with Europeans who had depended on free (i.e., slave) labor for their revenues. Also, as Portugal permitted the enslavement of indigenous people, slave hunters from São Paulo—variously known as Paulistas, mamelucos or bandeirantes—begrudged the Jesuits’ protection of the Guaraní, which deprived them of a theretofore reliable source of income. Portuguese landowners also resented Jesuit protection of the indigenous people, as the latter came cheaper than African slaves. (Perplexingly, while the Jesuits championed the Guaraní cause, they turned a blind eye to the enslavement of Africans, even owning slaves themselves.)

Rancor increased as the Jesuits persuaded the Spanish king to exclude all Europeans, Africans and mestizos (mixed-race people) from entering the pueblos or making contact with the Guaraní. The Jesuits also forbade the use of European languages in their territory. Knowledge of Guaraní grammar, vocabulary and the spoken language was a great advantage for the Jesuits in their efforts to catechize and control the populace.

The bandeirantes, on realizing the reductions actually facilitated the capture and enslavement of those gathered within, first struck the Jesuit missions in the late 1620s. Initially defenseless, the Jesuits and Guaraní could only withdraw south, closer to the main Spanish settlements. Any missions in Itatín and Guayrá not extinguished violently were abandoned.

Undeterred, the slavers followed the migrations of those fleeing their initial attacks, ruthlessly destroying newly established missions. In 1631–32 Jesuit Father Antonio Ruiz de Montoya organized an epic exodus of some 12,000 Guaraní to relative safety in what today is the Argentine province of Misiones. Ravaged by hunger, disease and hardship, two-thirds of those who set out died en route.

Philip IV of Spain (The Frick Collection)

While he embraced the idea of winning the Guaraní with “the Word” rather than the sword, by 1637 Montoya saw the necessity of a more forceful response to the slavers’ continued attacks. Setting down his pen, he appealed in person to Spanish King Philip IV for permission to arm the indigenous warriors for self-defense. Montoya also made a case for establishing a fire wall against Portuguese encroachment on Spanish territory.

The boundaries between the Spanish and Portuguese dominions in South America were ill-defined in the 16th and 17th centuries. The 1494 Treaty of Tordesillas had demarcated a boundary between the New World holdings of the two kingdoms. But Portugal encroached on Spanish territory from the outset, and even more so after the 1580 union of Spain and Portugal under the Spanish Hapsburgs.

So it was Philip IV pondered Montoya’s compelling argument in his role as king of Spain and Portugal. On May 21, 1640, the king signed an order allowing Peruvian Viceroy Pedro Álvarez de Toledo y Leiva, who had jurisdiction over the area, to arm the Guaraní if necessary. Such a move had never been contemplated within the Spanish empire, and it provoked great hostility and fear in the European landowners, further exacerbating a growing rift in Iberian unity. Seven months later Portugal declared its independence, ending 60 tumultuous years of union.

Anticipating the king’s move, in 1638 the government of Buenos Aires had supplied Jesuit Fathers Diego de Alfaro and Pedro Romero and the Guaraní they oversaw with weapons and 11 soldier-advisers whose task was to train the clerics and their flock in the use of European weaponry and battlefield tactics. In a clash the following year with bandeirantes, Father Alfaro stopped the slavers cold, then, in a moment of Christian forgiveness, allowed them to withdraw unmolested. They of course came back and killed the priest. But Alfaro’s demise did not mark the end of the Jesuits’ resistance, as ex-military Brothers Domingo de Torres, Juan Cárdenas and Antonio Bernal stepped up to help the 11 soldiers train the Guaraní. An epic battle was in the offing.

Among the traditional weapons in use by the Guaraní before the arrival of Europeans were bows and arrows, with which they might set enemy villages afire. (North Wind Picture Archives/Alamy Stock Photo)

The catalyst came with the flood of the Uruguay River in early 1641 when bandeirantes Jerónimo Pedroso de Barros and Manuel Pires launched a full-scale offensive against the missions. Four hundred bandeirantes and a band of Dutch freebooters led 2,700 indigenous Tupí allies down the riverbank, their advance paralleled by a fleet of 300 canoes and rafts. No quarter would be extended this time—by either side. Waiting for the slavers were Jesuits and 4,200 Guaraní armed with 300 guns, cutlasses, assorted indigenous weapons and 360 small craft.

Command of the Jesuit-led force was entrusted to Father Romero, with other priests and brothers assuming support roles in the preparations. Leading the indigenous army was Brother Domingo, aided by lead cacique (indigenous field commander) Nicolás Ñeenguirú from Concepción and caciques Francisco Mbayroba of San Nicolás and Arazay from San Javier. Commanding the flotilla was cacique Ignacio Abiarú, who hailed from a mission on the Acaraguá River. Flanders-born Father Superior Claude Ruyer formulated the overall strategy.

The Guaraní made their stand at a point in present-day Misiones Province, Argentina, where Mbororé Creek empties into the Uruguay.

The bandeirantes made the first move, attacking downriver on February 25. From his command raft Abiarú engaged the enemy force with a tacuara wood cannon, forcing the bandeirantes to fall back after two hours of fighting. On March 11 the expected follow-up assault came, again by water. Avoiding encirclement, the Guaraní-Jesuit fleet drove the enemy boats toward the fortified promontory at the mouth of the Mbororé. Caught in a crossfire, the bandeirantes retreated to a hastily built palisade on the right bank of the river, where the Guaraní-Jesuit troops besieged them for four days. Thrice the slavers tried to surrender, only to be rebuffed. Blocked from retreating on the river, they fled into the surrounding jungle. Father Ruyer led the pursuit, driving the bandeirantes into the territory of the Gualachí, a cannibalistic people who feasted on the defeated slavers and their Tupí allies. The bandeirantes attempted yet another incursion into mission territory the following year, but they were soundly defeated and never again posed a threat.

In the aftermath of the bandeirantes’ defeat the Jesuit missions established their own armories and continued to provide military training to the Guaraní

In the aftermath of the bandeirantes’ defeat the Jesuit missions established their own armories and continued to provide military training to the Guaraní. On more than 70 subsequent occasions the Spanish governors of Asunción and Buenos Aires called on the Jesuits and their indigenous allies to either subdue hostile tribes or repel encroaching European powers. As a further bulwark against the Portuguese the Jesuits re-established seven missions east of the Uruguay River in Tapé. Those missions would play a role in the ultimate undoing of the Jesuits.

As the Jesuits increasingly proved their military mettle, resentment and jealousy of the society spread among European settlers and other religious orders who regarded the self-sufficient, vibrant Jesuit state as a challenge to their own authority and survival. While the missions enjoyed great prosperity over the next century, the Jesuits were continually fending off attacks from Spanish and Portuguese religious and civil authorities.

Meanwhile, Portugal continued to encroach on territory claimed by Spain, and in 1680 Portuguese traders established the port city of Nova Colônia do Santíssimo Sacramento, on the north bank of the estuary of Río de la Plata. Only 31 miles from Buenos Aires, on the opposite shore, the port quickly became a smuggling center that threatened both the Paraná and Uruguay rivers, which in turn led to the interior of the Spanish dominions.

Marquês de Pombal (Cabral Moncada Leiloes)

In the mid–18th century Europe itself was a politically and spiritually turbulent region. Much as the Jesuits had held sway over Catholic European monarchies in their positions as educators and confessors to the powerful, the secular ideas of Enlightenment politicians and philosophers also took hold, inevitably clashing with religious traditions. Among those especially hostile to the Jesuits was Portuguese statesman Sebastião José de Carvalho e Melo (later dubbed the Marquês de Pombal), who in 1750 was appointed the equivalent of prime minister. Mounting an intense propaganda campaign against the Jesuits, he managed to implicate them in the 1758 attempted assassination of King Joseph I. In its aftermath members of the deeply religious Távora family were publicly executed for attempted regicide, while their Jesuit confessor, Gabriel Malagrida, declared a heretic by the Inquisition, was publicly garroted to death, his body tossed on a bonfire. Pombal delighted in suppressing the Jesuits in Portugal and its possessions.

The beginning of the end for the Jesuits in Paraquaria came in 1750 when Spain and Portugal signed the Treaty of Madrid, in part to settle a dispute over ownership of Colônia. In exchange for the port, the Spanish surrendered to Portugal nearly 20,000 square miles of territory in Tapé, including the seven flourishing mission pueblos and their estancia lands, plus those belonging to missions on the west bank of the Uruguay. The pueblos’ 30,000 Guaraní inhabitants were to migrate with their moveable possessions to lands west of the Uruguay, a turning point depicted in the 1986 film The Mission, directed by Roland Joffé.

At first the indigenous governments of all but one of the pueblos and some of the fathers accepted the orders. But many Jesuits in the province reacted to the treaty with dismay and appealed to the king to reconsider—to no avail. The Jesuit hierarchy in Rome compelled the fathers to obey. In a precarious position among the European Catholic nations, Jesuit Superior General Ignacio Visconti invoked the vow of obedience and sent his representative Padre Lope Luis de Altamirano to enforce his and the Crown’s mandate for the peaceful surrender of the seven pueblos.

The Guaraní appealed to Ferdinand VI as Christian subjects of Spain and made an impassioned argument of their past loyalty to the crown as soldiers of the king

The Guaraní appealed to Ferdinand VI as Christian subjects of Spain and made an impassioned argument of their past loyalty to the crown as soldiers of the king. When their pleas also fell on deaf ears, they mobilized to defend their lands. In February 1753, after the Guaraní opposed the commissioners charged with demarcating the new boundaries, José de Andonaegui, the Spanish governor of Río de la Plata in Buenos Aires, declared a state of war between the crown and the seven pueblos. Joining in the declaration was Gomes Freire de Andrade, the Portuguese governor and captain-general of Rio de Janeiro. The standoff soon flared into the Guaraní War.

In June 1754 the Spanish governor moved north with a 1,500-man army. Opposing him was cacique Rafael Paracatú, from the Yapeyú mission across the Uruguay. Bad weather and persistent Guaraní ambushes forced Andonaegui to retreat, but not before he captured Paracatú in a skirmish.

At the same time Freire was marching on the pueblos. His Portuguese force soon encountered Guaraní under cacique Sepé Tiaraju, who was captured but managed to escape the night before he was to be executed. Bad weather and relentless guerrilla attacks forced the Portuguese to sign an armistice with the Guaraní in November 1754. The powers that be blamed the Jesuits for the indigenous uprising, and Padre Altamirano liberally excommunicated his complicit Jesuit brethren. Meanwhile, the Guaraní picked up support from fierce non-mission tribes.

The Europeans regrouped and in December 1755, aided by troops under José Joaquín de Viana, governor of Montevideo, renewed their offensive against the Guaraní. Andonaegui advanced from Buenos Aires with 1,500 men and 150 Spanish soldiers, Viana from Montevideo with 1,670, and Freire from Rio de Janiero with 1,200. They joined forces in Santa Tecla, and their first target was the mission of San Miguel.

Sepé was overall commander of the indigenous army, which numbered nearly 1,700 men and fielded eight indigenous artillery pieces made of bound tacuaruzu cane that could be fired only a few times. Unfortunately for the Guaraní, in a skirmish at Batoví in February 1756, Viana’s Montivideanos killed Sepé. Leadership passed to cacique Nicolás Ñeenguirú (namesake and descendant of the hero of Mbororé 115 years earlier). Though reportedly a man of great courage, Ñeenguirú was not as adept as his ancestor in the art of war.

Red paint thrown by protesters mars São Paulo’s Monument to the Bandeires, intended to honor the 17th century explorers who opened the interior of Brazil. (Paulo Whitaker/Reuters)

The Guaraní made their stand at an estancia south of the Yacuí River. There atop fortified Caibaté hill on February 10 the indigenous army, though entrenched behind ramparts, was soundly defeated in little more than an hour, suffering some 1,500 men killed and 154 captured. A handful of Guaraní escaped into the jungle to wage a futile guerrilla war. European losses in the battle were four killed and 30 wounded.

The European forces then took the pueblos in succession. After a few skirmishes retreating Guaraní burned San Miguel, the first, on May 17. By month’s end all the pueblos had fallen, and the war was over. Within two years the victorious Europeans had removed all the Guaraní. It was all for naught, for the Portuguese ultimately refused to give up Colônia and in 1761 signed the Treaty of El Pardo, abrogating the terms of the Treaty of Madrid. About 15,000 Guaraní returned to find their pueblos devastated.

Implicated as the instigators at the heart of the rebellion, the Jesuits also faced consequences. Father Tadeo Ennis, a Bohemian Jesuit, was captured at San Lorenzo along with his papers, which recounted the course of the uprising in detail. Fingered as the behind-the-scenes commander of the Guaraní, Ennis contended he was merely a chaplain and physician to the indigenous troops. He was later acquitted in Buenos Aires. Regardless, the society’s critics published a raft of anti-Jesuit books and manuscripts, accusing the order of having founded their own republic and other crimes against the Crown, as well as calling out individual Jesuits as participants in the war.

In 1759, at the Marquês de Pombal’s behest, Portugal became the first monarchy to formally expel the Jesuits from its dominion, followed by France in 1764 and Spain in 1767. Pope Clement XIV completed the suppression of the order with a papal brief promulgated on July 21, 1773.

Established by the Jesuits in 1691, its church built in 1752, Mission San Javier in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, was restored in 1993. (Evaristo Sa/Getty Images)

Thus ended the Jesuits’ dream of a Utopia in Paraquaria. In 1767–68 the order abandoned all of its South American missions and institutions, which were subsequently occupied, inventoried and sacked. The 30 empty pueblos fell under the administration of other orders or civil authority. Their failure was perhaps preordained, as those who followed could not maintain the balanced and equitable administrative and socioeconomic system established by the Jesuits. The Guaraní simply melted back into the jungle.

For more than 160 years a system the Jesuits held forth as an earnest attempt at Christian social justice—and envious critics derided as exploitative and paternalistic—survived and thrived in Paraquaria. The alternative for the Guaraní was enslavement or continual harassment from European settlers.

Forty-one years after Clement XIV’s papal suppression, Pope Pius VII restored the Society of Jesus in a papal bull issued on Aug. 7, 1814. The Jesuits returned to Argentina in 1836, Uruguay in 1842 and Brazil in 1844, though not to Paraguay until 1927. By then Paraquaria was a memory, as time had decayed the deserted mission buildings and nature had reclaimed the land. Today the scattered ruins serve as tourist attractions and World Heritage Sites. Among them is the Jesuit reduction of Jesús de Tavarangüé in Paraguay, which was unfinished at the Jesuits’ expulsion. Tavarangüé is a Guaraní blend word that roughly translates to, “The Town That Would Have Been in the Past.” MH

Jorge E. Taracido is a retired Jesuit preparatory school instructor from Kansas City, Mo., with a doctorate in romance languages and Renaissance studies. For further reading he recommends Black Robes in Paraguay, by William F. Jaenike, and A Vanished Arcadia, by Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham.


The Jesuit Missions in South America: Jesuits Reductions in Paraguay, Argentina, Brazil

The Indios Guaraní of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil would have been another indigenous people victim of the colonial conquest in South America, if the Jesuits would haven’t been able to persuade the King of Spain to grant that vast region to their care.

The Jesuits promised to the King generous rewards, in the form of tributes, in exchange of the exemption from the “encomiendas” (hard labour to which were subjected all the other Indios), assuring that the region would have been an Imperial dominion thanks only to the Gospel power.

Therefore, for about 150 years, the Jesuits succeeded in protecting the Guaraní from the raids of the slave-hunters from São Paulo (Paulistas). They founded several missions or “reducciones” and developed a kind of evangelisation a bit peculiar for that time. They put into practice the precepts of the Gospel, isolated the Guaraní from the bad influences of the Europeans and developed the creativity of the Indios.

The Jesuits, in the 17th and 18th Centuries, achieved this bold experiment in religious colonisation. The Reducciones encompassed the vast zone of today’s Argentina, Paraguay, southern Brazil and Uruguay. They were one of the most singular creations of the Catholic missionary activity.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

The first settlement had founded in 1609. Many other Jesuit Missions were established along the rivers, in the Chaco, Guaira and Paraná territories. The first missions were founded in Brazil, but due to the continuous raids of the Paulistas, were soon abandoned (1640s.).

Guided by the Jesuits, the Indios had advanced laws, they founded free public services for the poor, schools, hospitals, established birth control, and suppressed the death penalty. A kind of society based on the principles of the primitive Christianity had been established. All the inhabitants of the “reducciones” worked in the “tupambae”, land property of the community, and all the products which they produced were fairly divided among them.

The Jesuit mission of Jesus Tavarangue, Paraguay. Author Patty P

The Guaraní were very skilled in handicraft works, sculpture, woodcarving etc. the “reducciones”, were the first “industrial” state of the South America. Indeed, such advanced products as watches, musical instruments, etc. were produced in the “reducciones”. The first typography of the New World had been built in the reducciones. The working day was about 6 hours (in Europe at that time was of 12-14 hours), and the free time had been dedicated to music, dance, bow-shot contests and to prayer. The Guaraní society was the first in history of the world to be entirely literate.

The main settlements had been on the Rio Paraná along the border of the present Argentina and Paraguay. These missions reached their apogee in the first half of 18th century, gathered around about 30 missions, between 100.000 and 300.000 Indios converted to Catholicism.

San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

The Jesuit missions assumed almost full independence, as if they were real nations. The “reducciones” were centres of the community life. The main buildings, like the church, the college, the church yard were concentrated around a wide square. The Indios’ houses were faced on the other three sides of the square. The village was also provided with a house for the widows, a hospital, and several warehouses. In the centre of the square, rose on a tall base, remained a huge cross and the patron Saint statue, for which the mission was named. Some “reducciones” numbered up to 20.000 inhabitants.

Trouble started in 1750s, when the King of Spain ceded to Portugal a portion of the territory where the missions were located. The Portuguese, who wanted to take economic advantage of these zones and of the work of the Indios, caused the so-called Guaraní wars which concluded in 1756 with the Indios defeat. The Jesuit Missions ended in 1767, with the expulsion of the Jesuits. During that time, the last missions also emptied and the Indios returned in the forest.

Today, of that time, are left the beautiful ruins of some of the “reducciones”, and the indigenous language: the Guaraní, that is today the only native language to be the official language of a South American nation: Paraguay. The Indios Guaraní almost disappeared as they are now, reduced to only 50.000 people. The remains of the reducciones, are one of the most interesting chapters of the colonial history, with some of the most remarkable examples of art of the 17th. and 18th. centuries in South America.

Map of the Guaranì Jesuitical Missions "Reducciones" in Argentina and Paraguay. Author Marco Ramerini Map of the Guaranì Jesuitical Missions "Reducciones" in Brazil and Argentina. Author Marco Ramerini

The ruins of 8 missions are in Paraguay:

San Ignacio Guazù (1609)
Santa Rosa de Lima (1698)
Santa Maria da Fé (1647)
San Cosme y Damian (1652) it had also an astronomic observatory.
Santiago (1651)
Itapua today Encarnacion.
Jesus de Tavarangué (1685) UNESCO world heritage.
Santissima Trinidad de Paranà (1706) UNESCO world heritage.

The ruins of 15 missions are in Argentina:

San Ignacio Mini (1632) UNESCO world heritage.
Santa Ana (1637) UNESCO world heritage.
Nuestra Senhora de Loreto UNESCO world heritage.
Santa Maria la Major UNESCO world heritage.
Candelaria, Corpus, San Carlos, San José, Martires, San Javier, Conception, Apostoles, Santo Tomé, Yapeiu, La Cruz.

The ruins of 7 missions are in Brazil:

Sao Miguel Arcanjo (das Missoes) (1687) the chief mission of the seven in Brazil that is a UNESCO world heritage site. Close there were the missions of Santo Angelo (1706), Sao Francisco de Borja (1682), Sao Nicolau, Sao Luiz Gonzaga, Sao Lourenço Martir (1690), Sao Joao Batista (1697).

Chiquitos missions (Bolivia):

San Francisco Javier, Conception, Santa Ana, San Miguel, San Rafael, San José. UNESCO world heritage site.

Between the Guaranì e Chiquitos missions, there were the missions of Taruma: Sao Joaquin (1747), San Estanislao (1747), Belen (1760).

The Jesuit mission of Jesus Tavarangue, Paraguay. Author Patty P San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini. San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini. San Ignacio Miní, Misiones, Argentina. Author and Copyright Marco Ramerini.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

– Caraman, Philip “The lost paradise: the Jesuit Republic in South America” 1976, New York: Seabury Press

– Gomez, Alcide Antonio “Ruinas Jesuiticas de San Ignacio Mini. Los treinte pueblos” San Ignacio Mini, Argentina

– Cunninghame Graham, R.B. “A Vanished Arcadia: Being Some Account of the Jesuits in Paraguay 1607 to 1767” 1924, London, William Heinemann

– Ganson, Barbara “The Guarani under Spanish Rule in the Rio de la Plata” 2003, Stanford University Press

– Gomez, Alcide Antonio “Ruinas Jesuiticas de San Ignacio Mini. Los treinte pueblos” San Ignacio Mini, Argentina


Guaraní people turn to the law to fight latest battle with Bolivian authorities

Guaraní protesters in August flee police, who pursued them to the village of Yatirenda, and then proceeded to smash car windows, kick down doors and drag people from their homes. Photograph: courtesy of CODAPMA

Guaraní protesters in August flee police, who pursued them to the village of Yatirenda, and then proceeded to smash car windows, kick down doors and drag people from their homes. Photograph: courtesy of CODAPMA

Last modified on Thu 15 Oct 2020 14.31 BST

T he history of Bolivia’s Guaraní, an indigenous people living in the country’s southern lowlands, is one of struggle in defence of their territory. In 1892, an uprising against local landowners ended with the massacre of more than 2,000 Guaraní. A century later, Guaraní activists confronted oil companies seeking to exploit the riches buried under their homeland of the Bolivian Chaco.

Now they are preparing to fight on a new front. On 24 September, three Guaraní leaders travelled from the dry heat of lowland Chaco to the chill mountain air of La Paz to deliver a legal petition to the country’s constitutional court, challenging a series of energy decrees passed by the government of President Evo Morales.

“We’re going to fight any work they try to carry out on our territory under these new rules,” says Ronald Gómez, president of the Council of Guaraní Leaders in Santa Cruz, as he negotiates La Paz’s steep, breath-stealing streets.

The decrees, issued gradually through the first half of 2015, opened national parks and other protected areas to oil and gas exploration. They also weakened the ability of indigenous groups to bargain, tilting power towards the state to determine the framework, timescale and outcome of any negotiations.

“They’re essentially part of a packet of legislation to make extractive projects easier and more viable, especially for foreign companies,” explains Jorge Campanini, from Bolivia’s documentation and information centre (Cedib), which has conducted research into the legal changes.

Bolivia’s human rights ombudsman publicly condemned the decrees, saying they “disavow more than 50 years of indigenous struggle to be recognised as the owners of their territory and as active subjects of the state”.

Morales’ Movement Towards Socialism has governed Bolivia since 2006, and has used strong rhetoric about decolonisation and indigenous rights. It argues that the decrees are necessary to accelerate consultations on extractive projects, and has promised that communities will be compensated and fragile eco-systems taken into account.

“Societies like ours, with high levels of social debt, need as a matter of urgency a set of material and financial resources in order to construct schools and hospitals, improve salaries, and so on. For this you have to transform nature and promote extractive mechanisms,” said vice-president Álvaro García Linera in July.

The government’s social security and infrastructure programmes have been credited with successfully tackling poverty and social exclusion. But there are clear incompatibilities between funding these projects with income derived from the country’s gas reserves, and the demands of indigenous people for territory and autonomy.

The new decrees have put these clashing priorities on a collision course.

On 18 August, a group of demonstrators blocked the main road connecting Santa Cruz, Bolivia’s biggest city, with the Argentinian border. They were protesting at the lack of consultation on oil-well drilling work at a site named El Dorado, which they say lies within Guaraní territory.

About 300 police officers broke the blockade using batons and tear gas. They then pursued protestors to the nearest village, Yatirenda, where they smashed car windows, kicked down doors and dragged people from their homes. Twenty-seven people were arrested and dozens injured.

“Everyone was terrified,” says Wilma Arrendonda, the territory’s Capitana or Guaraní leader. “We’ve never seen anything like this before, police violently invading our communities.”

Tensions escalated a few days later, when the Guaraní’s main representative organisation, the Assembly of the Guaraní People (APG), was excluded from a state-created fund financing projects in indigenous communities. The APG’s president, Domingo Julián, calls the exclusion “an obvious act of political persecution”.

“Things have actually gone in reverse since 2006,” Julián says, in his office in the dusty town of Camiri. On the wall behind him hangs a portrait of Apiaguaiqui Tumpa, the Guaraní warrior who led the ill-fated rebellion of 1892.

“When we were fighting the neoliberal state, there was usually a way to resolve the conflict. But now we’re just told that we are in opposition to the process of change, to the development of the country, and dismissed.”

The Guaraní’s territory, he says, is already feeling the effects of global warming. The seasonal rhythms of the Chaco, a sun-scorched expanse of thorn forest and scrubland that extends south from Camiri into Paraguay and Argentina, have been transformed by the changing climate.

“Years before, it began to rain in October, and we’d start to seed in November. By February, we’d have maize to make chicha for our carnival. But now, it starts to rain at the end of December. We begin to seed at the end of February, and we have our maize in May or July.”

Like his friend Ronald Gómez, Julián is determined to oppose any diminishment of Guaraní influence over extractive projects on their territory. “To abandon our resistance would be to abandon the dreams of our ancestors,” he says.The Guaraní are not alone in arousing the government’s ire. In August, the vice-president threatened to expel four Bolivian NGOs for “meddling in political affairs”. All four had been critical of what they termed the government’s “extractivist policies”.

In 2013, a Danish NGO, Ibis, was thrown out of Bolivia on a similar premise.

“That was intended to send a very clear message to NGOs here,” says Susana Eróstegui, director of Unitas, an umbrella organisation representing 23 Bolivian NGOs. “Don’t get involved in politics and definitely don’t criticise the politics of the government.” Cedib was one of the four NGOs threatened with expulsion. “If anyone challenges or opposes, or even just criticises, this politics of extractivism, they’re immediately attacked,” says Campanini. “Many institutions and organisations aren’t willing to say what they think. They feel threatened – you can definitely sense a fear out there.”

The same week that Ronald Gómez delivered his legal petition to the constitutional court, protests erupted in Tarija, a city at the heart of Bolivia’s gas boom. Anger was sparked by hydrocarbon exploration in the nearby Tarquía reserve, a protected area which was off-limits to gas companies until the decrees were passed.

A recent analysis by Cedib showed that extractive work is primed to begin in other sensitive areas. These include Isiboro national park, where violent clashes occurred between police and protesters in 2011, and the northern Amazon, near Madidi national park, one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

“The Guaraní know how things go with oil companies, so they’ve been the first to act,” Campanini says. “But when other groups start to understand what’s happening, they will too. Each place will be distinct and there will be conflicts of differing magnitudes, but this isn’t going to relax. It’s going to proceed with force.”


The story of Marcos Veron

‘This here is my life, my soul. If you take me away from this land, you take my life.’ Marcos Veron

The killing of Guarani leader Marcos Veron in 2003 was a tragic but all too typical example of the violence that his people are subject to.

Mr Veron, aged around 70, was the leader of the Guarani-Kaiowá community of Takuára. For fifty years his people had been trying to recover a small piece of their ancestral land, after it was seized by a wealthy Brazilian and turned into a vast cattle ranch. Most of the forest that once covered the area had since been cleared.

In April 1997, desperate after years of lobbying the government in vain, Marcos led his community back onto the ranch. They began to rebuild their houses, and could plant their own crops again.

But the rancher who had occupied the area went to court, and a judge ordered the Indians out.

In October 2001, more than one hundred heavily armed police and soldiers forced the Indians to leave their land once more. They eventually ended up living under plastic sheets by the side of a highway.

While still in Takuára, Marcos said, ‘This here is my life, my soul. If you take me away from this land, you take my life.’

His words came prophetically and tragically true early in 2003, when, during another attempt to return peacefully to his land, he was viciously beaten by employees of the rancher. He died a few hours later.

Veron’s killers have not been charged with his murder, but they were charged with lesser crimes related to the attack, following a court hearing in early 2011.

‘His voice is not silenced.’

In this emotional interview, Marcos Verón’s daughter-in-law tells Survival researcher Fiona Watson how she saw her father-in-law killed. At the end, Verón’s widow comes up to embrace Fiona.


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