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  • Inhabitants of the Indigenous reserves in the vicinity of Sao Paulo say they are prepared to resist the eviction.

    Inhabitants of the Indigenous reserves in the vicinity of Sao Paulo say they are prepared to resist the eviction. | Photo: EFE

Published 6 September 2017

The removal of the 720 strong community would displace the people from a territory of 523 hectares, to one of just 1.7 hectares.

Residents of the Jaragua Indigenous reserve are resisting attempts by the government of Brazil's President Michel Temer to expel them from their land.

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Tupa Mirim, a native of the region, explained that "whites do not understand our connection to the land because they do not live in the jungle."

"They believe that there are no Indians in Sao Paulo," added chief Antonio Awa of the Tupi-Guarani community, referring to the government of Temer.

Sao Paulo is home to 29 Indigenous territories, with the Jaragua one just 20 kilometres from the city.

"Indigenous lands are proven to be the most effective way of preserving the forest."

According to the National Indian Foundation (Funai), a governmental organization, less than half of the Indigenous territories in Brazil are regularized.

Temer’s administration annulled the decree established in 2015 which allocated 523 hectares to the Jaragua reserve, claiming that it had been an "administrative error".

The expulsion of the 720-people strong community from their reserve would demarcate them to a territory of just 1.7 hectares. Of the five villages slated to be evicted, only one would be left, the village of Ytu, which holds the community’s only health center and the state school for 200 students.

However the Indigenous groups in the territory are prepared to resist.

"Fear does not own the land, if we unite, Temer will not do what he wants," said one Indigenous leader from the community, Elizeu Lopes.

"At first we were frightened, but we are not going to lower our heads, fighting is what we have been doing for more than 500 years," added Mirim.

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