Brazil: Political Prisoner at Risk of Death, Peasants Mobilize in Defense

Cover photo: Luzivaldo de Souza Araujo in the cap, in an audience at the Agrarian Ombudsman in Brasilia, October 2017

By Nélida Tello

The National Commission of the League of Poor Peasants (LCP, Liga dos Camponeses Pobres), which organizes the poor peasants in the countryside in their struggle for land, published a statement on December 28 on the status of Luzivaldo de Souza Araujo, a Brazilian peasant political prisoner whose life is threatened by the Brazilian State and its brutal prison system. Peasants in the state of Minas Gerais have mobilized in defense of de Souza Araujo and have called for actions across the country in his defense.

The reactionary Brazilian State targets peasants like de Souza Araujo who fight in defense of their land in Brazil’s countryside. The old State has accused de Souza Araujo of a crime he didn’t commit, with witnesses corroborating his innocence. De Souza Araujo has been fighting for his freedom for more than three years.

This week, de Souza Araujo’s family informed the National Commission of the LCP about his declining health. Between December 20 and 24, de Souza Araujo was admitted to a hospital in the city of Frutal with gallstones and infection in the gallbladder and liver.

Before de Souza Araujo was hospitalized, a family friend reported hearing his cries while visiting a family member in the prison where he is incarcerated. At the hospital, the National Commission of the LCP reported that de Souza Araujo received medicine, but still needed surgery. However, he was sent back to prison because there was a supposed “lack of guards” to watch him at the hospital.

Following the report of de Souza Araujo’s declining health, peasants from the Sao Jose da Boa Vista area, in southern Brazil, have mobilized in defense of his life and raised the demand for his immediate release from prison. Various banners demanding the freedom of de Souza Araujo, signed by the LCP, were hung in Camp Boa Vista, an area occupied by poor peasants.

De Souza Araujo’s case was up for appeal in December, but the judge overseeing his case went on vacation, delaying the process. As the LCP points out, millions of poor Brazilian prisoners, the majority of whom are Black, face the absurdity of this justice system on a daily basis.

The National Commission of the LCP has called on all Brazilians to mobilize in defense of Luzivaldo de Souza Araujo by protesting outside government buildings and sending emails to various legal and political authorities.

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