Brazilian representatives of non-governmental organizations, the landless, performers, lawmakers, and intellectuals met in the center of Rio de Janeiro, February 18, to protest the murder of the American-born, naturalized Brazilian missionary, Dorothy Stang, who was shot to death on February 12 in the state of Pará, in northern Brazil.
Dressed in white with a black band symbolizing mourning over the death of the nun and rural laborers, the demonstrators called for an end to rural violence.
In the note released by the organizers, they demand, among other things, punishment for those responsible for the murders, the transfer of investigations to the federal justice system, the repossession of illegally occupied public lands, and federal intervention in the state of Pará.
The president of the Human Rights Movement, the actor, Marcos Winter, who promoted the demonstration, called for sterner measures from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in search of solutions to end agrarian disputes.
In Winter’s view, the government lacks political will. Another actor, Osmar Prado, who also participated in the protest, blamed the explosion of violence on the lack of agrarian reform.
According to data from the Catholic Church’s Land Pastoral Commission, in the past 20 years over 500 people have been the victims of violence practiced by lumber companies and landowners in the state of Pará.
Translation: David Silberstein