Area in MT where priest, defender and landless workers were detained has court ruling against owners of large estate

Friday, June 14, 2024
Info Source: 
Gabriela Moncau | Brazil in fact | São Paulo (SP) | Editing: Martina Medina | Translation by the Friends of the MST (US) | Original URL:

After violent eviction, governor of Mato Grosso, Mauro Mendes, says that 'whoever has possession will have the protection of the police'

Gathered under the tarpaulin where they have lived for 20 years, on the side of the road in Novo Mundo (MT), the 74 families from Camp Recanto Cinco Estrelas let out shouts of joy on June 10th. That was when they learned of a court decision that favors them in the fight for an area already designated by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) for agrarian reform.

Judge João Carlos Mayer Soares, from the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region, denied the writ of mandamus filed by the owners of Fazenda Cinco Estrelas, overlapping the Union area that is the target of the dispute. Recently, the conflict in rural Mato Grosso has intensified, with arrests and death threats.

The Court has already declared, in a first instance decision, in 2020, that the area of ​​4.3 thousand hectares taken over by the Farm belongs to the Union. Therefore, Incra issued an ordinance for the definitive settlement of the 74 families, allocating 2 thousand hectares of this territory for the New World Sustainable Development Project (PDS).

In response, claiming ownership of the area and arguing that it is used for planting corn, soybeans and raising cattle, the farmers filed a writ of mandamus against the creation of the settlement. The appeal was filed by Clayton, Renata, Luiz Claudio Rodrigues da Cunha, José Umberto and Zilene de Araújo.

Eviction without court order

While the action was not judged, tired of the years of waiting and the precarious conditions in which they live, on the edge of the farm, the families occupied the area on May 27th.

In a matter of hours, they were violently evicted without a court order by the Military Police and agents from the private security company Tática Serviços. A priest, a defender and ten landless workers were detained and later released.

Two days after the eviction, the governor of Mato Grosso, Mauro Mendes (União Brasil), commented on the case in the press. After declaring to RD News that “there's no point in the Public Defender's Office going there to speak, there's no point in the priest, there's no point in the bishop, there's no point in the politician, the deputy,” Mendes stated: “whoever holds office will have the protection of the police of our state.”

Since then, those camping have reported being the target of death threats. Brasil de Fato reported that cars with armed men pass slowly in front of the shacks.

It is in this context that, in the decision published on June 10, Judge Mayer attested that the writ of mandamus requested by the farmers is not valid.

“This proves that the person who is actually grabbing the area is the farmer himself. It is the recognition that the Union is the owner of the area and that the families are not invaders, on the contrary, they are claiming their rights,” assesses Edson*, from the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT).

Dust and lack of water

“We were very happy with the news that the injunction that protected the land grabber had been overturned,” says Luana*, one of those in the encampment. “We are suffering under tarpaulin, a lot of dust, coughing. Children hearing gunshots, always with pneumonia,” she describes.

In an audio in which a baby's cough is heard, Mrs. Cleide* reinforces that in the encampment “there is no comfort.” “My baby never got over the flu. Children at risk on the side of the street. My daughter has nowhere to have a baby. She has to take action,” she says.

As soon as they can establish themselves in the area, says Leandro*, another camper, the mission will be to look for a source of water. “It’s difficult here. What was helping us was the rain to at least stop the water in the drip pans, but now it's dry. So, every day that passes becomes more difficult for us.”

Next steps

Brasil de Fato contacted the government of Mato Grosso asking whether, with the writ of mandamus overturned and as declared by the governor, the state security forces will act to protect the landless families' ownership of the area. There was no response until the article was closed.

Now, the Federal Attorney General's Office (AGU) can request the Federal Court to comply with the first instance decision, which determined the settlement of the families.

The farmers, however, are still awaiting judgment on an appeal against the sentence. The action is about to be judged by federal judge Kátia Balbino.

When contacted, the AGU informed that “it was notified of the court decision” and that it “will officiate the Ministry of Agrarian Development and Family Agriculture” for the “measures within its jurisdiction.”

Incra stated that it “registered families camping and in a state of vulnerability” and that “once ownership of the area is granted, the process for creating the settlement begins.”

Mr. Milton*, camped and “waiting”, as he says, he says that the news was great, “but it will be even better when we get inside [the land]. Strength is running out, old age is coming, right?” But he soon adds: “We are happy.”

Dona Ruth*, a camper whose asthma attacks due to the dust on the dirt road, says that “it is a dream that will come true.” “With the grace of God and our fellow fighters, now we will get there.”

 * Name changed to preserve the source.