Brazilian authorities deny Indians planning mass suicide

Brazil's government and Catholic Church denied Wednesday that dozens of Indians were planning a mass suicide after being ordered to vacate a ranch.

Both the National Indian Foundation, or Funai, and the Catholic Church's Indigenous Missionary Council denied reports in the press and on Facebook concerning the alleged imminent mass suicide of a group of 170 Kaiowa and Guarani Indians in the southwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Funai sources told Efe Wednesday that the indignous leaders they consulted said there were no suicide plans but instead vowed the Indians would remain at the property at any cost.

The disputed land is located on the Cambara ranch in the vicinity of the Pyelito Kue indigenous reserve, which is located near Brazil's border with Paraguay.

The eviction notice was served 10 days ago to a group of Indians camping on the banks of the Joguico River, an area they consider their sacred ancestral lands, while Funai has filed a court motion to suspend the order.

The foundation said it is awaiting a ruling on the motion and that the Indians were not given a specific date to leave the property.

"In the letter sent by the Kaiowa and Guarani Indians of Pyelito Kue, there's no mention about the alleged mass suicide" plans, the Indigenous Missionary Council said.

The Indians refer to a collective death in the context of a struggle for their land, "meaning they're prepared to die on their traditional lands and never abandon them even if the courts and the gunmen hired by the ranch owners insist on removing them," the council said.