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Swiss Syngenta Hands Over Field Test in Brazil Where Two Were Killed

Syngenta Murderer, say the sign Marking an end to a violent conflict, agrochemical multinational Syngenta has handed over its experimental farm in Paraná state, in the South of Brazil, to the state government. This brings to a conclusion a long standing land dispute between landless workers movements and the Swiss company, which led to the deaths of two men.

Syngenta gave the land to the Paraná state government on October 14,  2008. The government has promised to use the land for the production of native seeds for distribution to small holder farmers and impoverished countries who have suffered devastation from hurricanes.

The 127-hectare farm in Santa Tereza do Oeste was used by Syngenta to field test its genetically modified (GM) crops. This was contested because it potentially contravened an environmental zoning law and because it was identified as a possible site for the settlement of landless agricultural workers.

Two men were killed after the landless workers movements, MST and Via Campesina, occupied the farm in protest on October 21, 2007. An illegal and violent eviction by 40 armed employees of NF Segurança, the private security company hired by Syngenta to protect the farm, led to the deaths of MST leader Valmir Motta de Oliveira (known as Keno) and security guard Fábio Ferreira.

Human rights groups and land activists in the state of Paraná have previously suffered threats and intimidation from a number of groups formed by landowners. In a public hearing on 18 October 2007, local rights groups presented a dossier of evidence to the state human rights commission that highlighted the activities of armed men hired by landowners and agricultural companies. According to the report, they act with no legal controls, often using violent and illegal methods to forcibly evict, threaten and attack land activists.

Several investigations into irregular and illicit behavior by NF Segurança, including the investigation into Keno's murder, have led to its licence being revoked. The company continues to operate pending its appeal.

Amnesty International has said it is vital that steps are taken by federal and state authorities across Brazil to control the flood of irregular and/or illicit security companies, many of whom are effectively acting as illegal militias in the service of landowners or agro-industry.

"It is essential that the state and federal authorities investigate individuals, organizations or companies which use security companies that commit human rights violations or criminal acts," said Susan Lee, Amnesty International's America's director. "Those found to have failed in their duty to adequately vet or oversee their security company must be held to account."   With the trial of the suspects of the killings of Keno and Fabio Ferreira about to begin in November Amnesty International calls on the authorities to ensure that it meets international standards for fair trials.

"It is vital that those individuals truly responsible for these deaths are brought to justice, ending the long history of impunity for rural killings and the protection of vested economic and political interests." Susan Lee stated. 

Amnesty International called Syngenta's decision to give back its 127 hectare experimental farm to the Paraná state government a welcome end to a violent conflict over the site.

Syngenta's decision to relinquish the land, Amnesty says, stands as an important step in the defense of the human rights of those struggling for their rights to land and survival across the state.

The trial of those accused of the murders of MST leader Keno and Fabio Ferreira will begin in November. Amnesty International is calling on the Paraná state authorities to ensure that it meets international standards for fair trials in order that only those responsible are brought to justice. It is time to end impunity for rural killings and the protection of vested political and economic powers.

What Happened

Early in the morning of October 21, 2007, members of the Via Campesina and the Movimento de Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), both landless workers' movements, occupied the 127-hectare farm near the town of Santa Teresa do Oeste. The land was used for field trials of genetically modified crops.

The use of the land was contested both because it potentially contravened an environmental zoning law and because it was identified as a possible site for land reform for the settlement of landless agricultural workers.

Hours after the occupation, 40 armed men entered the farm and shot MST leader Keno dead in the chest at point blank range. One of the security guards, Fabio Ferreira, was also killed. At the time the police suggested he was accidentally shot by his colleagues, though prosecutors later charged a member of the MST with the killing, informing Amnesty International that these possibilities had to be tested in court. Eight others were injured in the attack, including MST member Izabel Nascimento, who was beaten unconscious and remains in a coma in hospital, in a critical condition.

Human rights groups and land activists in the state of Paraná have previously suffered threats and intimidation from members of landowners' associations or those acting in their name. In a public hearing on October 18 2007, local rights groups presented a dossier of evidence to the state human rights commission which highlighted the activities of armed men hired by landowners and agricultural companies. According to the report, they act with no legal controls or oversight, often using violent and illegal methods to forcibly evict, threaten and attack land activists.

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  • Show Comments (6)

  • Wu Joong

    The Cucaracha Connection’s
    Are Usually, for the Lobbies using These Method’s,Eh, Sygenta, Your invasive Agribusiness, Based on Corruption, and Deadth, are Orrible, For Your Company The ParanÀƒÂ  , Is Your,The Brasilian Pleople Are Your , Every Obstacle, Humane or Forests Your Team of Mescaleros DEstroy!Mafious , and Bastards Your And Your Cucaracha Connection’s, But dont Exists a Severe Moratory, For Choose This Abuse? 🙁 🙁 🙁

  • Double-Dot

    [quote]The Cucaracha Connection’s[/quote]

    Mr.Joong. You are not making any sense. Could you be more specific and clear?

  • ch.c.

    Also, it is high time for the Foreign automakers in PR to surrender their factories to the government and leave us all in peace and harmony.
    So true !
    And in a few years time your will have dilapidated and empty factories.
    And of course…no new cars…since Brazil is not even able to build their own cars, with their own technology and own money !!!!
    That would be great for the direct and indirect employment sector.
    A guarantee your Slums will grow faster than your economic growth rate.

    But that will be positive for the cars companies HQ.
    They will re-hire workers in their own country and also develop their factories in Asia !
    End results ? Brazil will become as the poorest african countries are today.
    Fact being is that brazil has never developed something by their own or with their own money !
    Not even your sugarcane industry ! All the money came from foreign loans and capital !
    While Australia has a 100 % mechanized sugarcane harvest since 1980, Brazil still uses well over 50 % of manual labor for the sugarcane harvests…in 2008 !!!!!!
    Same for your ethanol industry, who with blue face you sweared it is competitive to oil ar US$ 35.- per barrel.
    Funny then as I said many times, that Cosan was losing money when oil was at US$ 150.-
    A simple well known scam from Brazil, similar to your Ostriches and Teak scams !!!!

    Quite similar for your EXTRAORDINARY Embrapa developmenta in seeds, so much proclaimed in Brazilians medias.
    but….but….90 % of the grains seeds in Brazil are made…. by foreign companies !!!!!!!!

    Viva, Viva Brazil, addicted to the foreign money and foreign technology !!!!!

    😉 😉

    On a more serious note, few Brazilians are aware of the sad fact, that I saw yesterday when viewing short TV videos at Globo TV Rural :
    – You are all proud of the BOOM in trucks manufactured in your country ! Right ?
    – 2007 Historical record production was 95’000
    First year that you surpassed
    1977 production of 90’000 previous historical record !!!!!!!

    No typing error…..sorry for you !!!!!!!

    Whoaaaaaaa what a great annual growth rate in 30 years !!!!!

    Be proud ! Shame doesnt exist in brazilian mentality !

    😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉 😀 😉

  • João da Silva

    [quote]Swiss Syngenta Hands Over Field Test in Brazil Where Two Were Killed [/quote]

    It is indeed a good news. Finally Syngenta decided to surrender their property to the state government of PR, realizing that they were hitting their heads against a concrete wall. MST is an important (and philanthropic) entity and it is futile to fight against their well intentioned efforts to “distribute” the land among the “Poor” peasants.

    As for the following comment of our eminent fellow blogger:

    [quote]- Funny how many families could suddenly be happy with 127 hectares !!!! Hmmmmmm !!!!! [/quote]

    It depends upon the “Strategy” of the State Government. IMHO, the best thing to do is to cultivate Sugar Cane in the 127 hectares of land and hire all those families as sugar cane cutters paying good salaries, with all the perks that they are entitled as State Government employees.

    Also, it is high time for the Foreign automakers in PR to surrender their factories to the government and leave us all in peace and harmony. 😉 😀

  • swerx

    “Human rights groups”? “Land activists”? Bulls***! They’re nothing more than a bunch of armed criminals, that keep invading private property, to occupy it, sell it and then move on to the next invasion… a few poor, innocent people are being used by their criminal leaders as a political tool for the marxist left and to make a lot of money.

    The Swiss company really can’t be blamed for anything that happened. They had stated clearly in the contract they had with the security company that they were not allowed to use any weapons… but of course, it’s so easy to blame “foreign capitalists”.

    A country that can’t uphold the right to private property is really a Banana Republic. Brazil needs land reform, but that’s not the way to do it.

  • ch.c.

    Funny !
    “local rights groups presented a dossier of evidence to the state human rights commission that highlighted the activities of armed men hired by landowners and agricultural companies.”

    – And the only one sued and punished is….A FOREIGN COMPANY…of course !
    – On NF SeguranÀƒ§a, not a word if it was a legal or illegal security company !

    – Funny how many families could suddenly be happy with 127 hectares !!!! Hmmmmmm !!!!!

    Ohhhhhhh…and what about the Murders and those who paid them, to kill Sister Dorothy ?????????????
    Freeee….of course….they were Brazilians.

    Viva the Brazilian Banana Republic !!!!!

    😀

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