With Two Political Prisoners, the MST Will Resort to International Organizations

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Info Source: 
Brasil de Fato

The Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST), in the State of Goias, located in center-west Brazil, is preparing to take the case of political imprisonments to international organizations. Currently, this State is known for the increase in repression to popular movements. There are already three political prisoners, and two of them are MST members.

“This is one of the strategies we have taken up. We are mobilizing to take the case to the UN, the OAS and, if necessary, to the Vatican itself,” informed Gilvan Rodrigues, a member of National Coordination of the Landless Movement. According to the MST’s lawyer, Allan Hahnemann Ferreira, the organization is waiting for the results of the request to revoke the temporary custody of farmer Luiz Borges and geographer Valdir Misnerovicz.

The request was made last July, 13, in Court of the District of Santa Helena of Goias, in the state’s interior. Among other things, the MST argues that there are no reasons for the imprisonments, because neither of the two militants have criminal records and they have a permanent residence.

Two days after the legal request, the Prosecutor’s Office of the district expressed their refusal to relax the conditions of imprisonment. Apparently, prosecutor Sérgio Luis Delfim, who is temporarily in charge of the case, argues among other things the need to “protect the public order.”

Brasil de Fato tried to communicate with the prosecutor in order to discuss the institution’s view on the matter, but was unable to reach him, as well as the corresponding advocate or the Media Adviser of the Public State Ministry of Goiás.

History of the Case

The arrests, dictated on April 14 by a bench of judges of the district, are a part of a plan to frame the MST as a criminal organization, based on Law No. 12.850/2013.

Luiz was arrested on the same day as the Justice issued the arrest warrant, in the municipality of Rio Verde, in the State of Goiás, and ordered to testify. And Valdir was arrested on April 30, in Veranopolis, in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul. Two other militants of the MST, against whom  arrest warrants were also issued, have been exiled by the movement. The orders are based on the occupation of a part of the Santa Helena ethonol plant, in bankruptcy, where more than 1,500 families linked to the MST are living.  

The Movement is protesting against the delay in the freeing of the political prisoners. “The Justice of Goias is taking too long to publish the ruling on the case, that’s why they are delaying the activity of our lawyers and the Supreme Court (STJ). They do this because they know that these imprisonments are political and they have no proof, and this means that they could actually lose the case in third instance. Delaying the publication is a way of guaranteeing the prolongation of the imprisonments,” Gilvan criticized.

Farmer Lázaro Pereira da Luz, who is not a member of the MST and was the third militant to be imprisoned under this legal case, on June 15, is awaiting the determination of the Habeas Corpus request, which may enter into the 2nd instance of the Chamber of Appeals for Criminal Matters, in the Justice Court of Goias, this week.

Political discrimination

According to the organizations and researchers that are following and supporting the case, these imprisonments are a consequence of the alliances between the justice system and representatives of big agribusiness.

“This is a distrubing and frequent situation in Brazil. In Goias right now the State government’s actions are aiming at restricting the activity of the MST, which has stopped occupying lands in the periphery of agribusiness, and instead began occupying central and strategic zones, reaching some of the most important farms. These areas, considered to be the most productive ones for agribusiness are, in reality, a new face of the “latifundium” model. The MST actions are rejected by the elites, who in turn put pressure on the government to demand harder repressive measures,” analyzed Manoel Calaca, from the Geography Program of the University of Goias (UFG).

He is one of the researchers that formed the Dom Tomás Bulduíno Goian Committee for Human Rights, created last month to bring together groups, entities and militants who are interested in joining forces against the conservative offensive of the State.

Calaca says he was outraged when he heard the news of the imprisonments. “In the case of Valdir, for example, I know him well, he is part of a very important work, of struggle for the agrarian reform and he is recognized by public organizations, by the church, etc. He is a person that only wants the wellbeing of the people, but the good he preaches makes the national and international bourgeoisie uncomfortable and that’s how the attempts to limit the movement begin. It’s a process where capital seeks to fence in the peasants, here in Goias. It’s part of the consolidation of a neoliberal model,” says the professor.

According to Gilvan Rodrigues, from the national coordination of the MST, the current situation has made the relationship of the movements with the public power very difficult. “Dialogue was never easy, but now it’s even harder. I think that the Secretary of Public Security should give an answer to society regarding the arbitrary and unsupported arrests,” he affirmed.

Brasil de Fato tried to contact the Press advisory of the Secretary to discuss these critical analyses, but they didn’t answer the calls.

Violence Figures

Violence in rural areas has registered an increase in Brazil. According to information released by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) in 2015 there were, in total, 50 murders: the highest figure since 2004. Even though in Goias there were no murders registered, the situation in the Center-West is considered to be very delicate. In comparison with the 2014 and 2015, the number of land-related conflicts in the region increased by 29%.

Also, the number of people involved in these conflicts went from 77,982 to 147,015. Which means a growth by 89% for that period. In the state of Goias, for example, the number of registered conflicts doubled: it went from 21 to 39, meaning a 86% increase. “Oligarchies have always been very strong in this state and the fragilities of the last year political scenario have worsened the situation, which explains these figures”, affirmed Paulo César Moreira, from the National Coordination of the CPT. He added that the CPT is also concerned with the current situation of increasing violence in rural areas and that they fear that the case of the political prisoners of Goias can spark similar situations in other places in Brazil.

“Goiás has been a strong center of repression, which focused on the landless workers, and it functions as a laboratory for the rest of the country because some of the tactics used there are later copied in other regions, such as in Para [state of northern Brazil], for example. That is a serious risk,” he says.