Brazil: 10 Years Later No Policeman Is in Jail for Massacre of 19 Workers

Of the 144 Brazilian military police incriminated in the  massacre of 19 rural landless workers in 1996, in Brazil, only two were condemned and they remain at liberty. 

In the past 33 years, 772 rural workers have been murdered in the state of Pará, in northern Brazil. Only 27% of these cases ever went to trial and only 11% were judged. Not one culprit has been punished.

On April 17th, 1996, 19 members of Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) were shot and killed by the state military police of Pará. Another 3 workers died years later from their wounds. In total, 22 workers lost their lives and many others were seriously wounded. 

As of April of 2006, ten years after the massacre, only two people have been held partly responsible for the attack at Carajás: Major Oliveira and Colonel Pantoja.

As such, the MST identifies the State as the principal party responsible for the massacre, having utilized the judiciary and the police to impose the hegemony of the rural oligarchy.

The Landless Movement says that the State is not only responsible for the massacre, but for its incompetence when addressing the implementation of agrarian reform. To make matters worse, social movements like the MST are declared enemies of the State, they say.

According to Charles Trocate, of the MST’s National Coordinating Body, the State has at its core a problem that is three-fold: forged land titles, slave labor and the erosion of biodiversity.

In accordance with a judicial decision made in 1999, the widows and wounded peasants from the massacre should have been receiving medical and psychological treatment to handle the aftereffects of the incident.

Walmir Beraz, the lawyer for the surviving victims, has denounced the omission on the part of the State with respect to both the judiciary and health system and their failure to serve the needs of the victims.

Nilo Batista, who defended the MST during the trial of the two responsible, insists on the need to continue in struggle. For Batista, the judiciary is another battleground of struggle in the same way the rural area is for the fight for agrarian reform.

MST – www.mst.org.br

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