[11/17/2005] MST Claims "Lives of Landless Workers in Pernambuco at Risk"

New Death Threats against Landless Workers in Pernambuco
Prepared by: Joba Alves of the MST’s Human Rights Sector

Encamped workers from two separate encampments in Pernambuco have received death threats from armed militias in the municipality of Sertânia, desert region of the state.

Close to 20 families are currently encamped in front of the Nossa Senhora do Camo Farm in the municipality of Sertânia, on Interstate PE-360 connecting Cruzeiro do Nordeste to the municipality of Ibmirim. These families have received severe death threats from the owner of the farm, José Antônio do Nascimento, and a number of armed gunmen. The situation is extremely grave.

In the same municipality, another 25 families are encamped on the PE-360, in front of the Juá Farm. They have also received frequent death threats from the owner of the property, who has visited them with armed gunmen at his side and who has threatened to kill and expel them from the area.

The workers have attempted to report the threats to local authorities. However, according to these workers the local authorities have made it clear they side with the landowners and have refused to document the threats.

The families feel that their lives are at risk and they remain distrustful of the local police, who have demonstrated direct ties with the landowners’ militia and who have neglected to intervene on their behalf.

The MST of Pernambuco is demanding that all precautionary measures be taken so that cases of violence, similar to what took place at the end of October this year, do not occur once more.

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The Planalto News Agency has also reported on the incidents: