Brazil has several marginalized groups that often don’t have a voice in government decision-making and are invisible to the majority of the country’s population. One such group, the country’s indigenous tribes, must constantly fight for their land against farmers and developers. Conflicts arise regularly but very few of them reach into the mainstream because they happen in isolated areas (for example, in the Amazon rainforest or in the Mato Grosso do Sul‘s savannah and swamp areas where several tribes are fighting to retain their lands).
Confronted with the need to raise visibility and awareness of their struggles, Brazil’s indigenous populations have turned to social media as a valuable tool, especially in the hands of their younger leaders. With greater access to education and new technologies, the tribes’ next generation leaders are using these tools to protest how they are being treated and engage with the public about their issues.
One example unfolded earlier this summer when a conflict arose in Sidrolandia (Mato Grosso do Sul), between Brazil’s Federal Police and the Terena Indians over an occupied farm. One Indian, Gabriel Oziel, was shot and killed. The videos and photos of the event quickly spread through social media and traditional media, and created an uproar. The crisis prompted Brazil’s Justice Minister, José Eduardo Cardozo, to go to the conflict area to oversee negotiations and mediate a peaceful resolution.