Brazil: Peasant families evicted by the big landlords retake their lands with the support of LCP

Featured Image: Families retake the lands of latifundio. Source: Image bank of A Nova Democracia

We publish and unofficial translation of the article of A Nova Democracia found here.

During the dawn of 19th of August of 2023, more than 100 peasant families, led by Liga dos Camponeses Pobres [League of Poor Peasants – LCP] of Noth of Minas and South of Bahia retook the lands of the Farm Lagoa dos Portácios with 6.8 thousands of hectares of lands abandoned for more than 20 years by the mining company Calsete, in the town of Carinhanha (BA). The families denounced several attempts of harassment by the big landlord, who admitted to act together with the Military Police [MP] to repress the struggling peasants.

With banners with the slogan Long live the Agrarian Revolution! and the symbol of LCP the peasant families continue the struggle that they started in January, when they occupied part of the large estate that cross the BR 030 highway. In March, the families were evicted because of a operation of the landlords to retake the land with the use of police force together with paramilitary group (goons), after a big campaign of persecution and demonization of the sympathizers of the city.

According to the peasants, the lands of the Farm Lagoa dos Portácios are abandoned lands that do not produce. They state that the farm has no main building, no fence and is used by the company Calsete as “drains” of environmental fines, in a scheme that uses the CNPJ [Translator’s note: Brazilian National Registry of Legal Entities] of the latifundios to “dump” the proves for crimes committed in the state of Bahia and also in Minas Gerais. The possession of the farm is disputed among the peasants that rears “loose” animals and use firewood to cook, internal roads, water tanks that were destroyed in the dumping operation and for rearing of small animals. Also, the occupation is so old that some relatives as grandparents of the peasants were buried in these lands. On the other hand, there are several interests in dispute as of the farm manager Lineu Fernandes and of the neighboring big landlords, coal miners and lumberjacks who extract illegal wood from the property together with the manager. Many peasants fall ill producing coal for these middlemen because they are prevented from planting and there are even several work trials against the company.

The Farm Lagoa dos Portácios belongs to the peasants

The peasant families of Lagoa dos Portácios live since decades ago in misery and without the land right and any other right than selling a work day under the burning sun, for R$ 70 to the big landlords and bosses of the city. The families are oppressed by the local big landlords since generations. The inhabitants and workers oft the communities “Cheira Cabelo”, “Cabacinhas”, “Caráibas” and near areas are the true owners of these lands.

The lands were promised by the Agrarian Reform in 2008/2009 by the superintendence of INCRA of Bom Jesus da Lapa in front of an audience at the city of Carinhanha, but they where never actually never given to the peasants. The possibility the government doing so, is still a long way off due to the bankruptcy of the agrarian reform. The farm has the capacity to accommodate more than 300 families.

Peasant families continue firmly resisting the harassment, lies and blackmail

Despite the fact that the government did not hang over the lands, the peasant families have already taken the possession of the territory. Continuously, the families are harassed in any possible way by the big landlord, who uses a tentative of eviction or even cattle theft. According to the denounces, the big landlords, together with the “manager” of the farm, they let their cattle loose on the peasant’s lands, and when they “take it back”, they take advantage to steal the cattle of the small peasants and mark the animals with their iron bar.

The increasing peasant organization woke up the anger of the big landlord. In addition to maintain permanent presence of goons on the sides of the BR 030 highway, the big farmers admitted on a local radio show that they will trigger the local police to identify everyone who is there. Lineu Fernandes himself said in the program, on 28th of August, that he has a security “team” and that he is not responsible for what may happen to whom are inside the farm.

This is the modus operandis of the big landlords, who act like the owners of the city, institutions, police, city hall, radio and all around. But they cannot stop the organized and just resistance of the peasants of the Bernadete Mãe Camp.

Using all the most despicable methods to try to intimidate the masses in struggle, they put in an unscrupulous lawyer to affirm that the agrarian reform law allows the identification of all the peasants who invade lands and that these will have their social benefits cut, including Non-Hunting Period Insurance– Artisan Fisher (it is a city on the shore of the São Francisco River). The lawyer based the argument on Bill 1373/2023, which currently is being debated in the Congress, and seeking to cut the social aids for families who participated in occupations of land. The lawyer further stated that he would bring the case to the demoralized “CPI of the MST”.

While these terrorists try in every way to stop the struggle for land, the peasants follows its historical path of resistance and heroism in order to put all the lands of the big landlords in the hands of the poor peasants, quilombolas and indigenous people.

The Mãe Bernadete camp was named in honor of the important quilombola leadership Mãe Bernadete Pacific, who was shot dead on August 17th by goons payed by real estate speculators and big landlords, land grabbers, thieves of lands and wood. Mãe Bernadete was murdered inside the association of the Quilombo Pitanga dos Palmares in Salvador.

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