More than 600 families, about 3,000 people, from Brazil's Landless Movement occupied an abandoned farm, "Toca da Raposa" ("Fox's Den"), in the early morning hours of Monday, January 29th, and have installed themselves in the place. These same families had been the target of a violent operation carried out the previous week by the Brazilian Military Police.
Toca da Raposa is located in Planaltina, in Brazil's Federal District, 30 km away from Brasília. The families occupying the farm demanded the redistribution of its land, and the acceleration of the agrarian reform process throughout the state.
The farm includes 1200 hectares of land, and is located on Highway BR-020, which links the Federal District to the state of Bahia. Over the last three years it has been occupied three times by rural workers. "It's a giant plantation, according to the standards of the region where it's located," said MST member Flávio Silva.
The plantation-manager attempted to present a legal title to part of the farm, but his documents were declared invalid by the institute in charge of official surveys. The other part of the farm belongs to the agency that manages public lands in the state.
The 600 farmer families will stay on the farm until it is officially taken and used for the purposes of agrarian reform. The land belongs to the public authorities and was being used illegally by Mário Zinatto, the above-mentioned owner of the false documents.
The MST has requested a meeting with José Roberto Arruda, governor of the Federal District from the PFL Party, to discuss the redistribution of the land and the creation of a settlement there for rural workers. For more than two years, 80 families have lived in camps next to the farm, along the sides of the highway.
"The negotiations process with INCRA (the federal agency responsible for agrarian reform) didn't make any progress during our meeting last week. So the workers will remain mobilized," said Silva.
During the last three years, INCRA (the National Institute for Settlements and Agrarian Reform) has not settled a single MST family in the region. More than 2,000 families are currently living in encampments in the Federal District.
On Friday, January 26th, the MST families currently on the farm were attacked by 80 military police. Using violent means, the police invaded an encampment in the "Sete Rios" ("Seven Rivers") farm. The Sete Rios farm is located in the Flores de Goiás municipality, Santa Maria district.
The police arrived in 13 patrol cars, broke open the gate, and began firing over a wide area. Surprised, the men, women, and children of the encampment attempted to flee the violence.
The military police battalion involved in the incident did not have a judicial order to evict the families at the site. After the arrival of lawyers, the Agrarian Advocate, the regional INCRA management, and state parliamentary inspectors, the landless farmers were allowed to go free.
On Saturday, January 21st, the farm laborers were at the "Ilha Bela" ("Beautiful Island") farm. They left to avoid a confrontation with police officers who had an eviction order. The MST also asks for the expropriation of that land, which measures approximately 3,700 hectares and is currently abandoned and unproductive.