280,000 Guarani Indians live in four countries

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280,000 Guarani live in four countries, says research that was presented in ATL on April 27, 2017

Guarani People Mbyá, Rio Grande do Sul. Credit Renato Santana / Cimi

Do you know how many Guarani Indians exist in the world? According to the Guarani Continental Map, at least 280,000 people across 1.4 thousand communities in four different countries – Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil and Paraguay. They all share a common language and culture. The result of this work was presented on Thursday, 27 April, at 7:00 pm, in the 14th Camp Terra Livre (ATL) which ended on 28th April, the biggest Terra Livre camp on history!

In three years of research, a volunteer team of more than 200 indigenous, indigenist, and scholarly people surveyed land and demographics of the largest indigenous population in the lowlands of South America.

The result of the research came to public appreciation in two formats: a printed publication of the Trilingual Map – Portuguese, Spanish and Guarani -, accompanied by a book, and a digital version of the material in Portuguese.

The more than 280,000 people Guarani are distributed in 1461 communities, villages, urban neighborhoods or family nucleus in the four countries. The majority of the Guarani population – 85,000 people – live in Brazil, followed by 83,000 in Bolivia, 61,000 in Paraguay and 54,000 in Argentina. According to the research in the last twenty years, the Guarani are in process of population growth, involving high levels of fecundity.

Using up-to-date data, the maps indicate where they live, how they called the places they live in, how many are they, and what are the natural ecosystems in which the Guarani populations live.

For Map organizers the survey helps to understand the “extraordinary capacity demonstrated by the various Guarani peoples to remain Guarani after five centuries of intense colonial pressure.” Transiting from the Atlantic coast to the pre-Andean region, the Guarani remain alive, “as protagonists of the present and builders of the future”, updating and developing new models of settlement in their ancestral territories, now cut by the current borders of different national states.

In this sense, the Map shows the conditions in which the Guarani live in relation to the States, having as extreme the severe reality of spoliation and conflict with producers of soy, cane and cattle in Brazil, and the experiences in Bolivia, where the Guarani conquered the Recognition of most of its traditional territories.

The research will serve as a tool for indigenous Guarani in their demands for territories and public policies that respect their autonomy as peoples living in different countries but united by language, worldview, history and culture.

According to Bartolomeu Meliá, the anthropologist and publisher of the book of the Continental Guarani Map, the research aims to “strengthen the resistance of the Guarani and reaffirm their dignity towards those who want to exclude them”, referring to the cyclical violence of non-indigenous society to the Guarani peoples .

In addition, Meliá argues that “Guarani culture and economy are concrete proposals for another type of society”, and that colonial society can learn from the natives: “after all, non-Guarani people can also live a Ñande Reko – a new way of Being, more just and egalitarian, more peaceful and free. “