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Sentence in the case of the Spanish Jesuit Brother Vicente Cañas, champion of the rights of indigenous peoples in Brazil.

A retired Brazilian police commissioner has been sentenced to over 14 years in prison for the aggravated murder of Spanish Jesuit Brother Vicente Cañas in the Amazonian Mato Grosso region in 1987. Ronaldo Antonio Osmar is the last survivor of a group of six men originally accused of the killing of the Spanish Jesuit Br Cañas who was ambushed while bathing in the River Juruena close to the hut in which he was then living.

Br Cañas' family and friends travelled from Spain to be present for the verdict. For the Society of Jesus in Brazil, according to the superior of the Central West Apostolic Platform (PACO), Antonio Tabosa SJ, this sentence means "first, justice for a Jesuit missionary who dedicated his life to the indigenous people here in the region of Matto Grosso; the second, justice for his family who was with us in this trial and above all justice for the indigenous peoples."

Vicente Cañas went to Brazil in 1966 and became a champion of the rights of indigenous peoples. He made what is believed to be the first peaceful contact with the Enawene Nawe people of the Mato Grosso, and lived among them for more than ten years. The Amerindian people were under constant threat and attack because their traditional lands for hunting and fishing were of great value to incoming farmers and cattle ranchers. Br Cañas spoke up forcefully for the land-rights of the indigenous people to be recognized and respected. He successfully lobbied the Brazilian government for the territory to be officially granted for use by the Enawene Nawe tribe and went on to aid their campaign to secure an important fishing area. In this work he inevitably antagonized powerful interests.

When Br Cañas knew the Enawenê Nawê in 1974 they were 97 people. Today they are a thousand.

More info about Vicente Cañas:
Dossier 
Documentary

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