The following is an unofficial translation of two new articles concerning the struggle of the peasants at Camp Manoel Ribeiro, led by the Poor Peasants League.
Afraid, Police Intercept Peasant Buses in Manoel Ribeiro
Below, we [A Nova Democracia] reproduce news from the Resistencia Camponesa (Peasant Resistance) newspaper about police intimidation against peasants arriving at the new Camp Manoel Ribeiro.
On September 15, the police attacked a bus chartered by peasants on their way to Camp Manoel Ribeiro, in Chupinguaia. The vehicle, which departed from Seringueiras (533 kilometers (km) from Porto Velho) with dozens of families around 5 pm, was stopped twice on the road and forced to return to the municipality of origin, escorted by four vehicles.
Fearing the rapid growth of the camp, which gains more strength every day, the police attack aimed to prevent the arrival of more peasants to the lands taken from the former Santa Elina Farm.
Reports confirm that the first interception against the bus occurred at the Federal Highway Police station, when it was crossing the municipality of São Miguel do Guaporé, after covering a distance of almost 40 kilometers.
The vehicle, which carried only 30 people, with the aim of ensuring social distancing and preventing the transmission of the novel Coronavirus, was stopped by the police and released only after a lengthy search.
Arriving at Rolim de Moura, 145 kilometers ahead, the bus was stopped and searched again. This time, the police used 4 vehicles, demanded that families sign a document and forced everyone to return to their place of origin, accompanied by police cars.
The peasants have not been intimidated by the police’s persecution and claim that they will win their right in one way or another. If they don’t let the bus arrive, they will go by motorcycle, by car, etc.
Despite the persecution promoted by the police against Camp Manoel Ribeiro and the lies of the latifundio [large landlord] press in order to criminalize the peasant struggle, the occupation of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida latifundium advances more and more.
Within almost a month of the seizure, the camp receives more peasants every day who want to conquer their piece of land in order to live and work.
Peasants of the Manoel Ribeiro Camp Celebrate One Month of the Seizure of the Nossa Senhora Latifundium
The peasants of the Manoel Ribeiro Camp held on September 20 a victorious event in celebration of the 30 days of occupation of the Nossa Senhora Aparecida estate in Chupinguaia, in the interior of Rondônia.
The event was attended by peasants from neighboring areas, as well as popular movements and activists supporting the struggle for land: professors, working-class students, and honest intellectuals from other cities, including the state capital, Porto Velho.
All the residents of the camp attended the lively event that filled the crowd of the Popular Assembly.
After singing “The Internationale,” a hymn of the proletariat that unites workers and peasants worldwide, the event celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Heroic Resistance of the Peasant of Corumbiara and paid tribute to its heroes, peasants who had their blood spilled in the struggle for the lands of the Farm Santa Elina.
Erecting posters with the images of the heroes, the peasants recited the poem “Os Homens da Terra [The People of the Land],” by Vinícius de Moraes.
A simple tribute was also paid to Manoel Ribeiro, an active supporter of the families who took over the Santa Elina estate in 1995 and who, for this reason, was cowardly murdered by gunmen that same year. A brief description of the life and struggle of this hero of the Brazilian people was read and a poster with his photo was displayed.
The guests greeted the struggle of Camp Manoel Ribeiro, denounced the criminal repression operation carried out by the Old State against peasants in the name of the “Guarantee of Law and Order” (GLO) in the Amazon and exposed the importance of taking all the large estates as a solution to the country’s serious crisis in the midst of the pandemic, which has already produced more than 50 million unemployed.
In addition to the speeches of the supporters and entities present, the peasants also made interventions in which they demonstrated their decision to continue the struggle and showed gratitude for the support coming from the city.
The workers explained the reasons that led them to fight for a piece of land: the search for work and dignity for their families.
“I am here on behalf of my children, aged 4 and 13. The piece of land is for them. And I always remember my parents who dreamed of a land all their lives, but died without having this joy,” said a peasant woman.
“What encouraged me is that here we are giving opportunity to young people, which in the city they do not have. There they finish their studies, but they have no job, many end up in drugs or stealing,” explained a family man.
“I’m from Zé Bentão Area, I got a piece of land thanks to the fight. I’ve already been camped and I know how difficult it is. That is why I am here today, to return the support we received in 2010,” reported another peasant woman.
The peasants remembered their life stories and how they joined the struggle for land:
“My mom came first. She encouraged me and my sister. Today we are a total of 11 in the occupation,” said a peasant woman explaining how she arrived at the camp.
“Before coming to the camp, I didn’t know the truth, I just heard that it was a riot, a vagabond thing. But what I saw was people looking to teach their children to work. I saw a lot of unity and welcoming people,” said a lady, very excited.
Another peasant woman, recalling the story her parents told her, reported how the Old State used the workforce of pioneer peasants in Rondônia in order to pave the way for the establishment of the large landlords in the already cleared lands: “The teacher spoke the truth, the large farmers were made at the expense of the sweat, blood and tears of the peasants. When my parents arrived in Rondônia they had to chop with an ax, suffered a lot, without any support from the government and ended up having to sell the land for free. Then they had to beg for a daily allowance to be able to buy a packet of sugar for us.”
Those present also denounced the crimes of the landlords, the deceptions of Incra [National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform] and reaffirmed that only through struggle is it possible to conquer the dream of the land.
“Incra doesn’t give land, only the fight does. If we had not entered the land, we would not have the areas that we have here today,” asserted a peasant, referring to the revolutionary areas Zé Bentão, Renato Nathan, Alzira Monteiro, and Alberico Carvalho Maranatã I and II, conquered in 2010 with the taking of most of the old Santa Elina Farm.
“Our hymn teaches us: ‘Who likes us are us and those who come to help us.’ It brings us a lot of strength to know that we have firm supporters, showing how to conquer the land,” declared a peasant woman firmly. And she continued: “Latifúndio only brings misfortune and Incra does not give land to anyone. We can only do it with a fight. And when we do, we don’t just take a lot to feed the nation, we change a structure, we distribute wealth and in the long run we destroy injustice.”
During the conclusion of the celebration, when asked what she thought of the event, a mother of the family pointed out: “The slogans marked me. ‘Conquer the land to plant.’ I remembered myself, working for others and enduring humiliation. People are eager to earn the land to produce, to have a home, their gain.”
Peasants, workers, and honest intellectuals sang the fighting songs and shouted the slogans with great vigor, demonstrating the high awareness and decision of combative struggle.
The event ended with a luncheon prepared by peasants from neighboring revolutionary areas, in support of the new camp.