2004 was a year marked by an increase in the number of rural deaths resulting from land disputes in Brazil. Although Northern Brazil was the region with the smallest incidence of land invasions, the states of Pará and Rondônia, both located in the Northern region, headed the list of homicides involving rural workers last year.
Of the 16 deaths due to land disputes in the country, six occurred in Pará – the state where the American missionary, Dorothy Stang, was killed two weeks ago. Stang had fought for more than 30 years on behalf of environmental causes and landless workers.
Between 1995 and 2004, 301 people died as a result of land disputes. During this period the most violent year was 1996, when 19 landless rural workers were killed by military police in Pará in an episode that came to be known as the Eldorado dos Carajás massacre. In 1996, 54 deaths occurred in Brazil in consequence of land disputes.
Across the country last year, there were 60 homicides involving rural workers, in consequence of land disputes or other causes not specified in the National Agrarian Auditor’s tally.
The North led the ranking, with 24 deaths, followed by the Northeast, with 19, the Southeast, with 7, and the Center-West and South, with 5 each.
Translation: David Silberstein