REPUDIATION TO THE BRUTAL MASSACRE OF RURAL WORKERS IN THE SOUTH OF PARÁ, BRAZIL
WE REQUIRE AN INDEPENDENT INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATION OF THIS STATE CRIME
Filhos e Netos por Memória, Verdade e Justiça strongly condemns the planned action of the Civil Police (Specialized Delegation for Agrarian Conflicts – DECA) and Military Police of the State of Pará, Brazil, which led, on May 24, to the death of at least 10 peasants, 14 injured and several missing. The confirmed dead to date are: Weldson Pereira da Silva; Nelson Souza Milhomem; Weclebson Pereira Milhomem; Ozeir Rodrigues da Silva; Jane Julia de Oliveira; Regivaldo Pereira da Silva; Ronaldo Pereira de Souza; Bruno Henrique Pereira Gomes; Antonio Pereira Milhomem; Hércules Santos de Oliveira. Seven of the victims belong to the same family.
The rural workers were camped near Fazenda Santa Lúcia, in the municipality of Pau D’Arco, southeast of the state of Pará, which they occupied until a recent judicial order of repossession. The land is supposedly owned by a well-known family of land-grabbers, who irregularly control thousands of hectares in the region. In the case of the Cipó Farm, also occupied recently by the League of Poor Peasants (LCP) of Pará and Tocantins (a movement to which the murdered peasants in Santa Lucia were linked), it was verified, for example, that only 30% of its alleged property were documented land, the remainder being actually state-owned land.
We also repudiate and denounce the version presented by the Police, according to which the deaths were due to armed “confrontation”. There is no possible confrontation when NO police officer suffered any physical damage, as it was the case. Also, the “weapons” presented as evidence by the police, old and inefficient, are evidently incapable of being used offensively, even though they were in actual possession of the landless. Indeed, in this justification we see the reproduction, in the rural context, of the allegations of “autos de resistencia” systematically presented by the Brazilian police forces in urban areas for the summary executions and massacres perpetrated in the favelas and peripheries of the country, a practice already condemned countless times by the UN and others International bodies.
The reports we have so far point to atrocities and irregularities in the police action. Acting on the pretext of a warrant for arrest, they even executed the president of the local peasants’ association, Jane, who tried to dialogue with state agents. The scene of the crime was undone and the bodies sent to two different cities, Marabá and Paraopebas, before the forensics team arrived. The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office and the National Human Rights Council are already in the area and have reported on these and various other irregularities.
The region where the killing took place has a long history of agrarian conflicts and violations of rights committed by the Brazilian State. Under the Brazilian military regime (1964-1984), the region was the focus of an organized popular resistance the so-called “Araguaia Guerrilla”, which was crushed with mass killings, tortures and disappearances, condemned by national and international laws. In December 2010, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States condemned Brazil for failing to punish those responsible for the deaths and disappearances and determined that every effort should be made to locate the bodies of the disappeared. The Court concluded that the Brazilian State is responsible for the disappearance of 62 people, which occurred between 1972 and 1974. In that same region, in April 1996, the PM / PA held the notorious Massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás, in which 19 peasants of the Movement Of Landless Rural Workers (MST) were murdered, and dozens injured and maimed. Only two Military Police commanders were convicted of the atrocities in lawsuits and trials denounced by the Amnesty International and other international organizations for huge irregularities.
The background of this history of violence and injustice is a huge concentration of land ownership. In Pará, only 8% of the rural owners control 69% of the soil. Although in this part of the country the concentration is even more extreme, this is a reality of the whole of Brazil, which has even worsened in recent decades. The area occupied by the agribusiness increased from 214.8 million hectares in 2003 to 318 million hectares in 2010 (almost 50% increase). Between 2010 and 2014, another 6 million hectares passed into the hands of the agribusiness. 130 thousand large estates hold 47.23% of the total area registered by Incra (the National Institute for Land Reform). On the other hand, 3.75 million small properties and possessions account to only 10.2% of the area. Faced with such inequality, we consider legitimate, and support, the occupation movements, which throughout Brazil are organized by landless peasants, indigenous peoples and quilombolas (former slaves of african descent who colonized small rural areas during and after the end of slavery). If the State does nothing effective to eradicate inequality, the people have the right and the duty to seek justice through their own organizing and direct action.
The Brazilian State not only does not promote justice but it is the main agent of violence against the landless organization and the popular struggle in the rural areas. When it is not the direct perpetration through its repressive organs (the police and possibly the Armed Forces), the state is neglectful or is clandestinely linked to or support the gunmen hired by the agribusiness, as it has already been demonstrated by investigations in several cases.
The violence in the struggle for land has increased significantly in recent years. According to data from the CPT (Pastoral Land Commission), in 2015 there were 49 deaths in the rural areas due to land disputes, 61 in 2016, the highest number since 2003. Now in 2017, including the 10 confirmed victims of the Pau D’Arco massacre, there are already 36 deaths. Of these, 9 were killed in a single slaughter a month ago in Colniza, north of the Mato Grosso state, a crime executed by gunmen. That is, not only have the deaths increased, but the episodes have been more bloody, in a dimension that was not observed since the 1990s, the time of the massacres of Eldorado de Carajás and Corumbiara (Rondônia state). A fundamental component of this aggravation of violence is the behavior of the Judiciary, which has issued unprecedented orders for reinstatement, which often result in violent conflicts.
This increase in the violence against the poor, black and indigenous population is not exclusive to rural areas. Also in the cities the numbers of violence that mainly victimize the residents of the favelas and peripheries have increased terribly since 2012. Including violence carried out directly by the State, such as summary executions, torture and disappearances practiced by the police. In Rio de Janeiro, for example, the number of fatalities due to police action (the macabre “autos de resistencia”) went from 241 in the period between January and April 2016 to 383 in the same period of that year, 59% increase.
To complete this picture, since 2013, violent repression and persecution of popular movements and in public protests have also increased alarmingly, as have the legislation and instruments adopted by the state to contain dissent.
The links between political repression and permanent and structural social violence against the oppressed are evident. Since 2013, in Rio de Janeiro, the military police and the elite troops (BOPE) armored vehicles, created to operate in the favelas, have also been used to repress public demonstrations. Young people protesting the illegitimate spending at the World Cup, and the Landless Movement (MST) militants in Goiás, were indicted and arrested on the basis of the expanded “criminal organizations” law. More significantly, on the same day that the slaughter took place in Pará, the President of the Republic decreed the intervention of the Armed Forces against the demonstrations in Brasilia. The legislation used, which provides for the so-called Law and Order Guarantee (GLO) missions, was the same used for the occupation of the Marvel Favela by the Army for 14 months, starting in April 2014.
This resurgence of the violence of the social and political oligarchies, a true fascistic drift of the Brazilian State, and has gained momentum since the 2014 elections, which significantly strengthened the presence of groups linked to the most reactionary sectors of society in the National Congress, the so-called coalitions of the “cattle” and the “gun” lobbies.
The current violence wave in different places in Brazil is connected. This is the context of Pau D’Arco’s Slaughter. Violence against the peasantry has to be repudiated by all democratic and progressive sectors of the country, including because it is part of a growing violence that is crushing all over society.
Facing the Brazilian State’s inability to investigate and punish its own crimes, be it in the countryside or in the cities, we demand an independent investigation by international organizations on the Pau D’Arco slaughter. In Latin America’s recent history there are sufficient precedents for this, such as the investigation of independent international experts in the case of the 43 students who were victims of forced disappearance in Ayotzinapa, Mexico, in 2014.
Subscribing to this Note:
Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais/RJ
Centro Brasileiro de Solidariedade aos Povos (CEBRASPO)
Rede de Comunidades e Movimentos contra a Violência
Mães de Maio
Comissão de Direitos Humanos OAB-RJ
Associação Brasileira dos Advogados do Povo (ABRAPO)
Coletivo Técnico de Apoio às Comunidades em Luta por Moradia
Mídia Independente Coletiva (MIC)
Coletivo Fala Akari
Centro Cultural Antonio Carlos Carvalho (CeCAC)
Fórum Social de Manguinhos
NOS – Nova organização Socialista
Grupo TransRevolução CasaNem
PCR – Partido Comunista Revolucionário
MLC – Movimento Luta de Classes
MLB – Movimento de Luta nos Bairros, Vilas e Favelas
Movimento de Mulheres Olga Benario
Movimento Negro Perifa Zumbi
Sindicato dos Psicólogos do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – (SINDIPSI-RJ)
Coletivo RJ por Memória Verdade e Justiça
Campanha Ocupa Dops
Equipe Clínico Política do Rio de Janeiro
Núcleo de Atenção Psicossocial a Afetados pela Violência de Estado – NAPAVE-ISER
UP – Unidade Popular pelo Socialismo
Assembleia Popular da Cinelândia
Filh@s e Net@s São Paulo – DH, Memória Verdade e Justiça
Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais – São Paulo
Movimento de Justiça e Direitos Humanos – MJDH