March and Occupation in Bahia for Agrarian Reform and Justice
by Wesley Lima
On April 8, the MST in Bahia started a state march fighting for Agrarian Reform. The march, which had close to five thousand rural workers without land from nine regions of the state, started in the municipality of Camaçari and continued in the direction of Salvador.
The march was named “The Fábio Santos Silva State March”, paying homage to the leader of the MST assassinated by 15 shots fired by gunmen on April 2nd in Iguaí, in the southwest region of Bahia.
Upon exiting Camaçari, the rural workers marched to the centre square of the city and established a dialogue with society relating to the criminalization of the social movements’ struggle – emphasising the massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás and the recent execution of Fábio Santos – as well as denouncing the drought in the semi-arid region of Bahia and the paralysis of Agrarian Reform.
“We need to come out and march to denounce the lack of justice for the assassinations of rural workers throughout the country. Also we want to denounce the existence of various unproductive and vacant areas in Bahia, while nothing is being done to implement agrarian reform. Meanwhile, we have 25 thousand families living in tents on the side of the roads throughout the state”, said Márcio Matos, from the state leadership of the MST.
The mobilisation is part of the MST day of action that occurs every April to remember the deaths of 21 rural workers in the Massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás, which occurred in the state of Pará on April 17th 1996.
The march also included the participation of the mayor of the city, Ademar Delgado (PT), Congressman Valmir Assunção (PT), State Deputy Luíza Maia (PT), the Secretary of Women’s Policy, Verá Lucia Barbosa and municipal, state and federal representatives.
On Tuesday April 9th, the workers marched for Salvador. The landless intend to arrive in the Bahian capital by Thursday April 11th.
Along the route, the rural workers will make three stops: in Cascalheira, Lauro de Freitas and at the Salvador Administrative Center, where activists will be encamped until April 17th to pressure the state government and relevant bodies about these claims.
Since April 6th, 70 members of the MST have occupied an area of the Bahia Agricultural Development Company (EBDA) in Barra do Choça, in the south of Bahia. The movement demands a meeting with the federal government and EBDA so that the occupied area can be used for agrarian reform.
These actions, beyond remembering the massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás, demand justice for the most recent crimes connected to the struggle for land, like the brutal assassination of Fábio dos Santos Silva, leader of the MST in Bahia, executed last week with 15 gunshot wounds.