Sunday, July 24, 2016


Another amazing and interesting Jesuit for consideration is BROTHER VICENTE CANAS (1939- 1987)  a Spanish  missionary and Jesuit brother, who is credited with making the first peaceful contact with the Enawene NaweIndian tribe in Brazil in 1974. He lived with them for over ten years, adopting their way of life and helping them with necessary medical supplies. Due to his help, this indigenous people rebounded from a low 97 individuals to a population of over 430. Similar to Chico Mendes and Wilson Pinheiro, he died at the hands of cattle ranchers who are destroying the Amazon Rainfores.

Brother Canas helped the Enawene Nawe secure lands they considered necessary for their survival. In spite of receiving death threats from land owners and cattle ranchers, he successfully lobbied the Brazilian government for the territory to be officially granted for use by the tribe.
The tribe was campaigning for the use of a tract of land known as the Rio Preto, an important fishing area, which was omitted from inclusion in their original territory. They received numerous death threats from the local cattle ranchers subsequent to their lobbying.
The cultural survival of the Enawene Nawe is under constant threat. Their most pressing problem is the location of 5 mini hydroelectric generators located in the Juruena River, which is decreasing the native fish population. Because of this, the performing of the celebrated Yakwa festival may soon become impossible, putting at risk the heart of their rich religious tradition.
The Rio Preto (Adawina/Adowina) region has still not been demarcated, despite many years of work by the Enawene Nawe and a local indigenist NGO, OPAN (Operação Amazonia Nativa).
These threats are because of what Brother Vicente (Kiwxi) saw all those years ago - colonization of the state of Mato Grosso and Amazonia by soya mono-culturalists led by the Maggi family.

In 1987, a group of ranchers entered the home of Brother Vicente, near the village of the Enawene Nawe tribe, and stabbed him to death. Subsequently, the investigation into his murder was marred by corruption and incompetence and none of the 6 suspected murderers people were initially charged.
Nineteen years after his murder, the trial of those accused of killing him began in Cuiabá, capital of Mato Grosso state. The landmark trial began on the 24th of October 2006 and as of this date, the outcome has not been determined. Three men, which include the former police chief are finally on trial. Two of the other accused murderers have long since died and a third man has been deemed "too old" to stand trial.
Brother Vicente Canas Costa was born on October 22, 1939 in Alborea in Albacete, Spain. He entered the Jesuits on April 21, 1961 and quickly became the head of the Provincial Jesuit Brothers of Aragón, who were subsequently directed to travel to Brazil. He arrived in Brazil on January 19, 1966 and worked with both the Beiço-de-pau and the Miky indigenous tribes, watching as their populations were decimated due to contact with Europeans and the illnesses the Europeans brought. After taking his final vows on August 15, 1975, he first came into contact with the “Benedictines of the forest,” or the Enawenê-Nawê Indians. He began living with them in an attempt to protect their land and provide healthcare to them in 1977.
Brother Vicente was found dead on May 16, 1987 in his cabin next to the Juruema River in the state of Mato Grosso in Brazil. He was stabbed to death by people who desired the land of the Enawenê-Nawê and realized that they would never obtain it while Brother Vicente was alive to defend it. His estimated date of death was April 6, 1987. His murderers, have still not been brought to justice.

1 comment:

  1. I greatly enjoyed your blog on BROTHER VICENTE CANAS. I feel deeply for the Enawenê-Nawê.