This year was marked by land conflict violence says the 2005 Brazil Human Rights Report, which was drawn up by a Catholic Church organization that deals with agrarian reform, the Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT).
In 2005, a total of 28 people died in violence related to land conflicts in Brazil; in 2004 the number was 27. According to the CPT, the state of Pará has the worst record with 14 land conflict murders, followed by Mato Grosso with three.
The states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro and Maranhão each had two deaths due to land conflicts. For 2005, the CPT also says there were an additional 27 attempted murders, 114 death threats, two people tortured and 52 were physically attacked.
The CPT says that from January to August of this year there were no less than 794 conflicts over land possession involving 615,260 people. Those numbers represent a sharp drop of over 40%, compared to the same period in 2004.
That has led the head of the Special Secretariat of Human Rights, Mario Mamede, to say that land conflicts have not increased during the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration.
The National Agrarian Ombudsman archives, which is government-run, has numbers that are different from the CPT’s. It registered 42 land conflict deaths in 2003, and 16 in 2004. This year the number is 13, with 24 cases of violent death still under investigation.
Mamede says "The harder the government works to establish social peace in the countryside and reduce the suffering of rural workers, people who have unacceptable privileges that have accumulated over time and believe they are above the law will inevitably resist and that resistance usually takes a violent form."
According to Mamede, the government has a series of programs in place to combat violence in the countryside (Prevenção de Tensão Social no Campo, Capacitação de Mediadores de Conflitos Sociais, Atendimento de Denúncias – Ouvidoria Agrária Nacional, Mediação de Conflitos Agrários, Implantação de Ouvidorias Agrárias e Assistência Social, Técnica e Jurídica às Famílias Acampadas), which alleviate tensions.