Impunity Provides an Incentive for Violence in Pernambuco
Relying on the absence of the state and on the collusion between judicial powers and local police, farmers in Pernambuco are intensifying violence against Landless rural workers in Pernambuco. The MST and human rights organizations, such as the ‘Terra de Direitos’, are widely denouncing the violence which is taking place in the state’s countryside: the hiring of gunmen by farmers in order to shoot Landless rural workers; farmers who are armed with weapons, the threatening and beating of agricultural workers in their own homes; police acting as private security on farms, the intimidation of and the threats made to Landless families; delegates, judges and prosecutors legitimizing the use of violence and armed militia on behalf of land owners; rural workers disappearing and being killed in ambushes.
BRIEF ACCCOUNT OF THE MOST RECENT CASES OF VIOLENCE IN THE COUNTRYSIDE OF PERNAMBUCO- OCTOBER 2011 TO APRIL 2012
14TH October 2011- Joaquim Nabuco, Zona da Mata Sul
The Landless rural worker, Jose Amaro da Silva, president of the 21st November Registration association, also known as Frescudim, was kidnapped on the 14th October 2011 whilst leaving the MST camp in the Engenho Brasileiro in the town of Joaquim Nabuco. Jose Amaro spent 20 days in captivity, suffering physical and psychological violence.
19th February 2012- Serro Azul Camp, town of Altinho
The representative of the Serro Azul farm, Mr. Luiz Reis, armed and accompanied by three gunmen, physically attacked Josefa Maria de Belquior, squeezing her neck in the attempt to suffocate her. The Serro Azul farm was occupied by Landless workers for the first time on the 17th April 2011. Since then, these families have been suffering from threats, intimidation and permanent physical violence from gunmen on the behalf of the farm’s representative, Mr. Luiz Reis. These gunmen were hired by Mr. Luiz Reis, by the prosecutor and by the Altinho town judge. The camp was the scene of two episodes of forced eviction, the first took place in October 2011 and the last at the beginning of march of this year, which resulted in serious violations of human rights.
22nd March 2012- Serro Azul Camp, town of Altinho
The Landless rural worker known as Seu Antonio, based in the Serro Azul camp, town of Altinho, was approached by the farm’s representative, Mr. Luiz Reis, along with another four people, on the road which links the town of Santo Antonio to the camp. After a weapon was placed to his head, he was severely beaten by several kicks to his body and head, which resulted in a broken rib.
23rd March 2012- Serro Azul Camp, town of Altinho
Gunmen shot Landless families stationed next to the Serro Azul farm, in the town of Altinho, hitting two women and one adolescent.
23rd March, 2012– town of Jataúba, Agreste de Pernambuco
The landless rural worker Antônio Tiningo summarily executed by two masked men who shot him when he was driving his motorcycle from the Açucena Farm encampment where he lived toward the Ramada Farm, also in Jataúba when he was ambushed. Tiningo was one of the coordinators of the Ramada encampment, which has been occupied for the past three years. At the end of 2011, even while it was occupied, it was purchased by a businessman involved in the business of land speculation know as Brecha Maia. Soon after he bought it, the man who owns another farm in the region, illegally evicted the families without any court order or the presence of police. The families reoccupied the area in February of this year and since then the owner has threatened to remove the families by force, personally threatened some of the leaders include Antonio Tiningo.
4th April, 2012 – town of Gameleira, southern forest zone of Pernambuco
The landless rural worker Pedro Bruno, a settler in the Dona Margarida Alves Settlement, was killed near the Pereira Grande sugar mill. The mill had been reoccupied by landless families on the dawn of April 1, 2012. The mill belongs to the Estrelliana Factory and is one of the most emblematic conflict areas in the state of Pernambuco. The area was declared of social interest for the purpose of agrarian reform in November 2003 but after a number of legal proceedings were filed, the Mill succeeded in preventing the process of expropriation when Minister Ellen Gracie, then President of the Federal Supreme Court, which had granted possession to INCRA a week before, reviewed her decision and determined that the grant of possession and the subsequent order of expropriation could only go forward after the decision in the case. Since then the case has been pending in court.
Last March 8, around 200 women from the MST carried out a protest at the Pereira Grande Mill, demanding the expropriation of the area and condemning the economic and social consequences of the monoculture of sugar cane in the region. On that occasion they were surrounded by gunmen from the mill who fired several shots at the women.
Jabuticaba and Consulta Encampments – Township of São Joaquim do Monte: Encampment members and leaders of the MST were systematically threatened by gunmen, especially in the region Manoel João.
Mills in Barra do Caraçuípe(township of Água Preta), Amoroso(township of Xexéu) and Sítio do Meio (township of Gameleira) – Mata Sul Zone MST leaders were systematically persecuted and threatened with death by gunmen.
Serro Azul Encampment in the township of Altinho: Members of the encampment were persecuted and threatened by the representative of the farm, Sr. Luis Reis, by gunmen hired by him and by police from the townships of Altinho and Agrestina. In particular the landless rural worker known as Zé do Cal, who gave up part of his lot in the Frei Damião settlement near the Serro Azul farm, for the families to camp on after they had been evicted.