A shocking report detailing horrific atrocities committed against Brazilian Indians in the 1940s, 50s and 60s has resurfaced – 45 years after it was mysteriously ‘destroyed’ in a fire.
The Figueiredo report was commissioned by the Minister of the Interior in 1967 and caused an international outcry after it revealed crimes against Brazil’s indigenous population at the hands of powerful landowners and the government’s own Indian Protection Service (SPI). The report led to the foundation of tribal rights organization Survival International two years later.
The 7,000-page document, compiled by public prosecutor Jader de Figueiredo Correia, detailed mass murder, torture, enslavement, bacteriological warfare, sexual abuse, land theft and neglect waged against Brazil’s indigenous population. Some tribes were completely wiped out as a result and many more were decimated.
The report was recently rediscovered in Brazil’s Museum of the Indian and will now be considered by Brazil’s National Truth Commission, which is investigating human rights violations which occurred between 1947 and 1988.
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Other examples include the poisoning of hundreds of Indians with sugar laced with arsenic, and severe methods of torture such as slowly crushing the victims’ ankles with an instrument known as the ‘trunk’.
Figueiredo’s findings led to an international outcry. In a 1969 article ‘Genocide’ in the British Sunday Times based on the report, writer Norman Lewis wrote, ‘From fire and sword to arsenic and bullets – civilisation has sent six million Indians to extinction.’ The article moved a small group of concerned citizens to set up Survival International the same year.
As a result of the report, Brazil launched a judicial enquiry, and 134 officials were charged with over 1,000 crimes. Thirty-eight officials were dismissed, but no-one was ever jailed for the atrocities.