[SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN] Compensation & settlement for the families victimized at the Felisburgo Massacre **ACT NOW**
Dear Friends of the MST,
The third week of November marks two years since the Massacre of Felisburgo (MG). On November 20, 2004, 18 hooded killers, coordinated by the rancher Adriano Chafik, went to the Promised Land encampment and shot at men, women, and children. The landless workers Iraguiar Ferreira da Silva, Miguel José dos Santos, Francisco Nascimento Rocha, Juvenal Jorge Silva and Joaquim José dos Santos were killed. Many people were wounded and 100 families lost their homes.
After such a long time, only three of those responsible for the massacre are in prison. The person who ordered the crime remains free, as well as seven of the gunmen who have been identified by the victims. They live alongside the landless workers who were attacked, maintaining a climate of terror in that region. The Nova Alegria ranch, two thousand hectares of vacant lands (according to the Land Institute of Minas Gerais), has still not been destined for Agrarian Reform.
The governor of Minas Gerais, accused of neglecting the case – before the massacre, the MST and the Pastoral Commission on Land (CPT) denounced the threats against the landless workers, but the responsible authorities did nothing to prevent the tragedy – agreed to indemnify the famlies of the five victims for their deaths and grant retirement benefits to the widows.
To ensure that the promise is fulfilled, State Deputy Rogério Correio (PT), Vice-President of the State Legislative Assembly, authorized Bill 2972/2006, which puts the agreement into law. With the bill up for a vote, Governor Aécio Neves turned around and broke the agreement with the landless workers, directing his legislators to reject the proposal.
Faced with this situation, the MST began a campaign to pressure Governor Aécio Neves to fulfill the agreement with the landless families who were the victims of the massacre of Felisburgo. Besides this, the MST demands that the governor support the change of venue for the trial of Chafik and the two gunmen to Belo Horizonte (MG), since the State Public Ministry testified that the influence of the ranchers of the region of Felisburgo can prejudice the legal process. The landless workers are also asking for the expropriation of the Nova Esperança (New Hope) Ranch based on social reasons.
All those who defend human rights and want to contribute to this campaign should write to Governor Aécio Neves, using the sample letter below or any other expression of protest.
[DRAFT LETTER BELOW]
Dr. Aécio Neves
M.D. Governor of Minas Gerais
I, [NAME, ORG. AFFILIATION], send you this letter as a reminder that November marked two years since the massacre of Felisburgo, in the region of Vale do Jequitinhonha. It was at Felisburgo that the rancher, Adriano Chafik Luedy, ordered his gunmen to attack an MST encampment in broad daylight, during which five rural workers from Minas Gerais were killed in cold blood and a school and shacks were burned to the ground.
Soon afterwards, because of the widespread outrage, an agreement was signed in which the governor and state legislature proposed a bill to compensate the losses of the victims’ families. The bill was drawn up (No. 2972/2006) and was ready to be voted on. However, we are aware that your government’s legislators refused to approve it, thereby breaking their promise to the victimized families.
For this reason, we ask you to direct the legislators to approve the bill this year so that the families can at least obtain the comfort and rights guaranteed to the people of Minas Gerais. We also ask for your political support for the change of venue of the trial to Belo Horizonte, based on the opinion of the State Public Ministry, that the influence of the ranchers in the region of the massacre will prejudice the legal process.
We also need your support to speed up the expropriation or purchase by INCRA of the Nova Alegria Ranch. In light of the serious land conflicts that persist in the region after the handover of 500 hectares of state public lands - insufficient to resolve regional land conflicts or make the settlement of all the famlilies viable - the vacant Nova Alegria Ranch must be used to serve its social funcation and settle the encamped families.
We hope for your immediate attention to this matter.
[YOUR NAME, ORGANIZATION AFFILIATION]
[CITY, STATE, COUNTRY]