Thursday, March 02, 2006

Heightened political repression also happening in Brazil

January 06

The peasant leader, Wenderson Francisco dos Santos, better known as Russo, has been unfairly condemned to a 2 year imprisonment, just for being one of the Peasant League leaders, in Rond�nia, a state in the northern part of Brasil, east Amazonia. Illegally transferred to the terrible Urso Branco Prison, Rond�nia, Porto Velho, on September 29th , he was tortured during several days, without any food and had to drink water from the water-closed. At the moment he has been constrained to sleep in the bathroom of his cell.

These tortures occurred as a retaliation to the campaign created for his liberation and have been intensified all over the country. Wenderson's arrest is a political one. It is crystal clear on the decision of the judge, Fab�ola Cristina Inoc�ncio, who, on February 4th, 2005, refused to grant his freedom as a request of the Public Ministry. On her enactment the judge says it is necessary to adopt measures so that the public order is not affected. She is a daughter of a landlord from which social class derives the major part of the judges and the ruling people in Rond�nia. According to this reactionary 'justice', the organizations which struggle for the poor people's rights are considered a danger to the public order. The same public order in which the politicians do all sort of corruptions for the profit of a minority of landlords and big bourgeois. Where the landownership reigns, million of people are submitted to starvation, exploitation, unemployment and misery!

Wenderson was arrested in 2003 with two other peasants, Edilberto Resende da Silva (Caco) and Joel Gomes da Silva (Joel Garimpeiro), from the Poor Peasant League; all of them unfairly accused by the killing of a gunman, hated in the region for doing the dirty work for the landlord, a forger and timber robber, Antonio Martins Santos, the "Galo Velho", the owner of Leme Enterprise. Such an enterprise has been known for forging documents of land ownership as it was exposed on The White Book of Land Forgering, According to the denouncements of CPT (Land Catholic Church Commission), the landlord Antonio Martins dos Santos has approximately 1 million land hectares (forged) in the state of Rondonia.

After a two month emprisonment the so-called 'justice' - for lacking proofs - had to release Edilberto and Joel; however a counterfeit trial was done and a simple traffic problem was transformed into a penalty to condemn Wenderson to a 3 year and 3 month imprisonment.

The persecution and the arrests against the peasants increase more and more every day. But against the landlord and forger, Antonio Martins dos Santos, and some other criminal landlords nothing whatsoever has been done by the Brazilian authorities.

At the beggining of Lula's government, on February 20th , 2003, the leadership of The Poor Peasant League in Rondonia exposed to the Agrarian Development Minister, Miguel Rosseto, all atrocities performed by the landownership. Measures were demanded against the action of the gunmen and policemen accused of persecuting and murdering the pesants and agriculture workers, and also against the large timber enterprises and the land forgeries.

The document delivered to the minister, Miguel Rosseto, denounced many crimes by the landownership as well as police persecution to the Peasant Family Schools, organized by the Poor Peasant League, and pointed out the main land conflicts in Rondonia that have been occured lately:

� Twelve killings in 1999 in the Jacin�polis-Nova Mamor� Project ( 280km from the capital, Porto Velho); the gunmen tortured and dismembered their victims.

� The most recent case was the young man's, Oz�ias Martins de Souza, 19 years old, killed on an ambush, on November 27th, 2002, by order of the farmer and timberman, Carlos Schumann. The crime was perpetrated by the gunmen Antonio Correia, Noraldino Magalh�es Lopes, the "Acreano, Dion�sio Pinto da Luz and Claudemir Porto da Silva. They set fire to his motorcycle and tried to burn him.

� On July 2002, the peasant, Ed�lson Ferreira, 26 years old, was arrrested by gunmen from the Schumann Timber Enterprise; he was beaten and obliged to dig his own grave before they shot him down. This crime was revealed by the 'repented' gunman, 'Amazoninha', a week later, when he met the landless and said he was going back to Mato Grosso because he was 'terrified' with the cruelties. He said as well that the militar policemen, sargeant Alves, and the soldier, Silva, participated in Ed�lson's murder together with the timber enterprise manager, Jo�o, and the gunmen, Elias, 'Bigode', Nen� and Dion�sio.

� Another frightening case happened on October, 2001: the peasant Maninho, captured by gunmen from the farms Botelho and Nelson Zimur, was beaten with guns, had his arm and foot severed, was castrated and was thrown into the river.

� In the region as well, in the end of 1999, the peasant Benedito 'Picolezeiro' was brutally tortured and dismembered by gunmen by order of Zimbur (the owner of sawmills in Campo Novo and Rio Branco), when he was beginning the rice harvest. To frighten the landless the gunmen sacked Benedito's body and hung it by the road.

� In Jacil�ndia, Campo Novo, in 1999, a massacre of 40 families took place, done by gunmen from the timber enterprise Condor. His owner, Geraldo, from Ji-Paran�, has been considered as one of the most powerful persons in the region. His sawmill is in the middle of the rain-forest and, according to witnesses, has a cocaine refinery in Serra do Traco�, where a bi-motor plane lands twice a week. In the massacre 8 corpses were found and 18 people are missing in Jaci-Paran�m river.

� Some other areas where murders and atrocities have occurred: Cacaul�ndia, gunmen of the timber enterprises, Ip� and Cat�neo, killed Ivo Martins, 42, from Cristo Rei settlement; Cujubim, Sol Nascente settlement; gunmen from Leme Enterprise, belonging to Antonio Martins dos Santos, the 'Galo Velho', threatened to expel families with guns and saying they were from the police. In Jaru, there are 52 families watched by gunmen and threatened of evacuation.

� On the Lamarca Settlement, Theobroma, a group of 15 gunmen, led by 'Gago', by order of the landlord, Jorge Chaparini, and sawmill Cut�neo, were terrifying the region. In Montenegro, Rio Floresta settlement, 360 families out of the 480 settled by Incra ( Agrarian Reform Institute) have been evacuated for more than a year. Their crops were burnt and the harvest and animals confiscated. The landless were taken to to Urso Branco Prison, in the capital, under the charge of occupying the indians' area. In the sameregion the ex-senator, Ernandes Amorim, received 79 parcels of land.

� The document ended with the denouncement on the gunmen that have been acting unpunished on the nregion of Ariquemes and B-80. More than 3.000 families have been threatened of evacuation in Rio Pardo settlement, Buritis.

The survey to find out those serious denouncements was completely null. More than two years have passed after the meeting with the minister, Miguel Rosseto, and the same atrocities against the peasants in Rondonia keep happening. Instead of defending the legitimate right to the land for those who work on it, Lula's government started criminalizing their struggles. The national agrarian ombudsman, Gersino Jos� da Silva Filho, held meetings in the militar police headquarters with landlords and gunmen, and created a "Peace in the Countryside" Operation which has been attacking the peasants and supporting many evacuations. Besides this some other crimes keep occurring like murders of the peasants Tonha and Serafim, from the promised Land settlement, in Aruquemes, by order of the landlord Heringer; the fellow Edgar, chairman of the Small Producers Association, Cajubim, by order of the landlord, Antonio Martins dos Santos; and murders of poor peasants in Buritis, Uni�o Bandeirantes and some other places in the state of Rond�nia; needless to say the murders of peasants in other states like Par�, Pernambuco and others.

Since February, 2005, 9 peasants from Bananeiras settlement are in jail in Palmares, Doutor Rocenildo da Rocha prison, according to the decision of the judge, Aline Cardoso dos Santos. The peasants have been unfairly charged by the death of a militar policeman in February, 5th, 2005.

The Poor Peasant League exposes the atrocities done to those peasants in the region and demands the stop of the tortures and immediate release of Wenderson Francisco dos Santos and all peasants unfairly arrested. And the immediate handing over the lands for those who work on them.

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