MST protest in Bahia state in solidarity with Pataxó Hã-hã-hãe indigenous woman killed

Maia de Fátima Muniz de Andrade was killed and other people were injured in an attack last Sunday

Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha

Brasil de Fato | Rio de Janeiro (RJ) |
Part of the highway was blocked on Monday morting (22) - Daniel Violal

Hundreds of families from the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) blocked highways in the state of Bahia on Monday morning (22), protesting after the ruralist attack that killed an Indigenous woman from the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people last Sunday.

The blockades took place on the BR-101 highway (at two points in the extreme south of Bahia) and the BR-263 highway, near the city of Itambé, in the southwestern region of the state. The groups that took part in the actions voluntarily left the pickets around noon.

The attack happened in the Caramuru-Catarina Paraguassu indigenous territory, in the town of Potiraguá, Bahia state. Two farmers were arrested in the act for illegally carrying a gun, suspected of shooting dead indigenous woman Maria de Fátima Muniz de Andrade, known as Nega Pataxó, the community's majé (female for “pajé”, the spiritual leader of indigenous communities).

Among the people injured in the attack was cacique (indigenous leader) Nailton Muniz, who was shot. One of the shots hit his kidney, and he had to have surgery. An indigenous woman had her arm broken, and other people were hospitalized. They are not at risk of death.

In a statement, the MST in Bahia state said that the movement “repudiates the violent act of a group of militia farmers while demanding that the state quickly investigate the group of militiamen who are carrying out many criminal actions in Bahia as if they were a parallel state above the law."

Landless families protested in Bahia. / Daniel Violal

About 200 ruralists in the region organized their actions using a messaging app, according to a statement by the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, which sent representatives led by Minister Sônia Guajajara (Socialism and Freedom Party) to the crime site on Monday. Farmers and businessmen organized themselves to regain possession of the Inhuma Farm without a court decision. Last Saturday (20), indigenous people took back the land.

According to Bahia’s Department of Public Safety, the attack was promoted by a group that calls itself the “Zero invasion movement”. The department also determined ostentatious patrolling in the region indefinitely, which is near the towns of Itabetinga e Pau Brasil. 

The Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB, in Portuguese) published a statement condemning the attack and emphasizing the importance of demarcating indigenous lands as a way to solve the growing conflict for land in the country. 

Edited by: Nicolau Soares