Brazil: Peasants Resist and Prevent Massacre, Hold Large Assembly

By Nélida Tello

Poor Brazilian peasants, organized by the League of Poor Peasants (LCP, Liga dos Camponeses Pobres), from Camp Tiago dos Santos have unwaveringly defended their land and successfully prevented a massacre at the hands of the police by burning bridges and blocking roads leading to the Camp. On October 17, the reactionary armed forces sieged the Camp and evicted dozens of families to undermine their resistance; however, these efforts were disrupted when the families held a large assembly and presented their demands to the old State.

Bridge set a blaze in Nova Mutum

Last weekend, the state governor of Rondonia deployed 3,000 police, dozens of police vehicles, and two helicopters to the district of Nova Mutum, in the city of Porto Velho, where Camp Tiago dos Santos is situated, to massacre the peasants. In September, the Ministry of Justice issued an eviction of the Camp and authorized the police force to carry it out.

The LCP organizes peasants in the Brazilian countryside against the exploitation and oppression of the big landlords who own large sections of land. With the guidance of the LCP, poor peasants seize land and turn it into productive plots to support themselves and their community. The peasants of Tiago dos Santos have waged struggle over the land for five years and have successfully seized and divided it up among 600 families.

The peasant resistance forced the Military Police of Rondonia to release a statement justifying the eviction. The police claim they are complying with the decision made by the Rondonia Court of Justice and the ruling of a state prosecutor who authorized the police to evict the peasants for committing “environmental crimes” for living in the Camp.

The statement affirms that the operation is receiving support from the National Public Security Force (FNSP), the Air Operations Nucleus of the Secretary of State for Security Defense and Citizenship, and from the Military Police of Mato Grosso do Sul, a state bordering Rondonia to the south.

On October 20, the reactionary armed forces evicted dozens of families, sieged the Camp, and forced 17 vehicles onto the premises. The evicted peasants were relocated to Santa Julia School, along a highway in Vila da Penha, Rondonia.

The makeshift housing, managed by the state-run Municipal Secretariat for Social and Family Assistance, cannot house the number of evicted families. Classes will begin at the Santa Julia School on October 25, which will pose more challenges and difficulties for the relocated families living at the school.

Popular assembly at the Santa Julia School, families draft up demands

Police with rifles and pepper spray stood at the entrance of the school as the peasants arrived, and the families have reported that the police are photographing them. Since arriving, they have not received food forcing many to go without food for days. The police have denied the families from buying groceries, and prohibited lawyers from entering the school.

One peasant who spoke to revolutionary Brazilian newspaper A Nova Democracia shared, “My son hasn’t eaten since yesterday. The State is to blame! It’s the State’s fault because the State knew how many people were inside the camp!”

Many of the older peasants and children housed at the school are suffering from malaria and pneumonia. Despite this, there is a lack of adequate medical care and supplies to treat their ailments.

Police did not allow the families to bring their belongings such as clothing, food, chickens, pigs, and construction materials to the relocation site. Police officers promised to respect human rights and provide enough housing and food to the families, but these promises have all been broken. Once at the school, the peasants were not allowed to use the kitchen, forcing them to cook in unsanitary conditions.

The families at the school held a large assembly to denounce the unlivable conditions, police abuse, intimidation, threats, and to demand food and cleaning supplies. The list of demands was given to the Municipal Secretariat for Social and Family Assistance, who claims they do not have the resources to provide them.

The families’ spirit and readiness to fight back has not been overcast by the repression they’ve faced. Peasants have reported that they are proud of the numerous denunciations they’ve made against the old Brazilian state.

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