By Nélida Tello
The League of Poor Peasants (LCP, Liga dos Camponeses Pobres) is demanding the immediate release of four peasants arrested on May 14 by the reactionary police forces during an illegal incursion into Camp Manoel Ribeiro in the Brazilian state of Rondônia in the western Amazon.
Police repression and illegal surveillance of the camp have continued despite the state prosecutor’s office prohibiting such activity. The LCP released a statement denouncing the arrests of the peasants and the ongoing illegal sieges carried out by the police at the behest of big landlords. The latest siege against Camp Manoel Ribeiro involved an attack on ten peasants and the arrest of four others.
In order for the police to justify the operation against the camp, they planted evidence and fabricated crimes by the peasants. The four peasants, Ezequiel, Luis Carlos, Estefane, and Ricardo, were consequently charged with “attempted murder, damage and depredation, possessive depletion [when someone who owns property has their possession taken unfairly without the use of force], criminal association, and irregular possession of a firearm,” as reported by the Brazilian revolutionary democratic newspaper, A Nova Democracia.
The LCP statement denounces the false charges against the peasants and explains that police planted “a revolver and a shotgun shells among the seized objects.” The LCP also states that the peasants possessed “slingshots, fireworks, firecrackers and peasant work materials such as boots, machetes and pocket knives,” pointing out that these common materials were the supposedly “dangerous” weapons that the reaction used as a pretext for arrest.
The violent suppression of the revolutionary peasant movement, so long carried out by the hired gunmen of the landlords, has now been primarily taken up by the police, who act as the private armies of the latifundium and aid the state’s campaign of labeling the LCP as a terrorist guerrilla organization.
Last year peasants seized the last part of the Santa Elina Farm, where in 1995 they fought the heroic armed peasant resistance of the Battle of Santa Elina, also known as the Corumbiara Massacre. Since the seizure of the camp the state has waged a relentless battle against the peasants of Camp Manoel Ribeiro. Rubber bullets, pepper gas, and live ammunition have been used to attempt to evict the peasants from the camp, along with sieges and blockades to prevent basic necessities from reaching the camp. The peasants have fearlessly faced the state’s repression and not backed down, forcing the state to retreat at points, raising the red flag of the LCP and the Brazilian Agrarian Revolution.
The Old State’s illegal siege operations, intimidation, and repression of the peasant movement seek to sustain the semi-feudal conditions of the peasants in Camp Manoel Ribeiro and elsewhere. The Old State is determined to target and massacre the peasants, and will use depraved methods to do so. Against these attacks, the landless peasants in Brazil wage the Agrarian Revolution, as part of the New Democratic Revolution which will liberate Brazilian society from the exploitation and oppression of the latifundium (the big landlords), the big bourgeoisie, and US imperialism.
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