Landless demand justice during the funeral for MST leader in Bahia

Friday, April 5, 2013

funeralMST leader  Fábio Santos da Silva, assassinated on April 2 by 15 shots fired by gunmen in Iguaí, in the Southwest of Bahia, was buried on April 3.

The vigil for the body began in the Rural Community of Ribeirão das Flores and afterwards the body was taken to the City Hall of Iguaí, where the city can follow and share this moment of mourning and show solidarity with the grief of the family, friends, and men and women comrades in mourning.

On leaving the City Hall, families, friends, and MST activists held a march to the end of the city to accompany the coffin. On the way, a lot of music and chanting showed the people’s anger.

“This march has the goal of establishing a dialog with society in the sense of denouncing what happened and demanding that justice be done and the killers do not remain unpunished”, said the Federal Deputy
 Valmir Assunção (PT-BA).

The MST leadership states that the activists in the region are suffering continuous threats aimed at weakening the Movement’s struggle, trying to prevent new occupations and mobilizations.  After the march, the body was taken back to the Rural Community, where Fábio was buried alongside other family members.

“How many times are our peasants and workers assassinated? It’s this type of action, killing by gunmen, which is so cowardly and cruel, that we are facing in the Brazilian countryside. This killing, with clear signs that it was an execution, cannot go unpunished. Fábio, who was also a candidate for assemblyman for the Workers Party in the region, was a great fighter, comrade, and activist in social causes. Like every MST activist, he wanted to see Agrarian Reform put into effect”, added Valmir Assunção.funeral

“Companheiro Fábio, here we are continuing your struggle. I am in solidarity with your family.  Fábio, presente, presente, presente! The  MST is in mourning",  he concluded in his homage to the landless leader.  

Since 2010, starting with occupations carried out by families from the Mother Earth Encampment in Iguaí, the MST activists of the region began to receive threats from the owners of the big estates.

Faced with the threats, the Movement called a meeting with the Agrarian Auditor. In this way the activists placed the offensive of the estate owners against the struggle for expropriation of land for the purpose of agrarian reform, and nothing was done.

Because of this indifference, Fábio Santos was killed. This is why the Landless are demanding justice from the court.  

Violence in the Countryside

The Pastoral Land Commission registered 29 killings of rural workers in conflicts in the countryside in 2011. A smaller number than 2010, when 34 workers were killed.

However there was an increase of 178% in the number of workers who received death threats.

The data shows that in the countryside in the first four months of 2010, 12 workers were killed in conflicts in the countryside. In the same period in 2011, eight were killed.

This shows that violence continues and the impunity for the killers and those who make threats persist.