Brazil: Record of land conflicts in 2023: latifundium terror is answered with an escalation in the struggle for land

Hereby we publish an unofficial translation of an article published in A Nova Democracia.

The overview of 2023 with 2,203 conflicts is concerning and points out to an escalation in the land question in the country.

On 21st of April a report from the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) was published, on the conflicts in the countryside in 2023. The figures of 2,203 conflicts represents the record since the end of the military regime on 1985. The overview of 2023 with 2,203 conflicts is concerning and points out to an escalation in the land question in the country.

The conflicts were mainly for the land (71,8%) and also there were 31 murders in all. There were 264 “attacks with handgun”, 37 “families evicted from the lands” and 101 “destruction of properties” incidents. Moreover, the CPT verified 359 “invasions to peasant lands” incidents, 37 of “destruction of homes” and 66 of “destruction of farms”.

From an overall of 31 murders, 14 indigenous people, 9 landless peasants, 4 occupiers, 3 quilombolas and 1 public worker were murdered. The CPT warns that, although there was a downfall of a 34% in the homicide rate on the whole country, the number of murders in the land conflict remained the same in Western Amazonia (Amazonas, Acre and Rondônia). The report defines the region as an “epicenter of land grabbing”.

For the last years in the articles of AND the big landlord actions which steal the public lands (from the Union) have been highlighted. They use paramilitary groups, usually with the participation of public agents, but the latifundium has not been able to expel the families from the land, even with the whole latifundium terror which has prevailed on the countryside since the Jair Bolsonaro’s genocidal military government. At the end of 2022 was dismantled a mercenary troop which gathered public agents (as military policemen, civil policemen and delegates from the Civil Police) and goons in an action lead by the reactionary Armed forces which combined the use of police forces and paramilitary. The goal, which failed, was to expel the peasant families organized by the League of the Poor Peasants. Rondônia’s peasant families remain in the lands, and they denounce the latifundium criminal activities.

The report points out a conflicts record

The figures of 2,203 recorded cases in the CPT’s Report is the biggest number since the organization started its recordings. Since 1985, the country has witnessed the bloody year of 1995, the year of the Corumbiara Battle (in Rondônia), and also the bloody year of 1997, year of the Eldorado dos Carajás Massacre (in Pará). The continuation of reactionary terror promoted by latifundium is a signal that shows how the land question is urgent. It is being shown as follows:

The Northern Region leads with 810 conflicts. The Northwest has the second position, with 665. Are followed by Center-West (353), South-East (207) and South (168).

Regarding the states, the firs place is for Bahia with 202 cases. It is followed by Pará (183), Maranhão (171) and Rondônia (162).

Bahia, governed by Jerônimo Rodrigues (PT), was the scene of a huge peasant mobilization on the 2023 first months. Between the 30th of January and the 1st of March of 2023, just in the Bahia state, at least 9,5 thousand peasants carried out mobilizations by holding demonstrations, occupations of land and occupations of headquarters of former State institutions. As a response, the big landlords murdered María Bernadete Pacífico, “Mãe Bernardete”, an important quilombola leader, in Salvador on 17th of August of 2023, in a crime which leads this macabre ranking. Continuing with the latifundium list of crimes, on 2024, the paramilitary movement “Invasão Zero” promoted on February an attack to the Indigenous Land Caramuru-Catarina against the Pataxó Hã Hã Hãe people, which resulted in the murder of Nega Pataxó.

In Maranhão, peasant and quilombola struggle stands out before this high level of attacks by paramilitary groups linked to latifundia. On 2024 it was held the “People’s Court against land grabbing and land-based crimes”, showing how despite the increasing big landlord attacks, the people’s strength and its ability of responding to them is even bigger.

Altogether, the conflicts mobilized 950,000 people in 2023. Most of them were poor peasants, with few or without lands, whom see conquering of land as the only solution.

War for land is already a reality

Along the first months of 2024, it is already possible to see the increasing land occupations in the whole country. Among them we can highlight the “Abril Vermelho” initiative which mobilized thousands of peasants from the second week of the month, and also the continuity of the Mãe Bernardete Camp, precisely in the state which concentrated the biggest number of conflict cases. The last one, on 22nd of April was the target of a political attack by part of the big landlords which burnt peasant properties and tools. On denouncing the attack, an inhabitant from the camp highlighted that “the anger is because we want to work”, highlighting how the People’s Court, held after the occupation, handed over lands to hundreds of families whom today have lands to live and work.

The National Commission of the Poor Peasant League already pointed out in the same direction, when, in the midst of the “CPI on the MST” where far right parliamentarians politically defended the latifundium offensive:

“From the hysteria of words to the facts, the big landlords and the reactionary far-right, armed to the teeth by the genocide Bolsonaro and his generals, always in connivance with murderous military and civil police, uniformed or acting as private security guards and goons, they attacked the peasants whom struggled for the land in different points of the country”.

And from then, the LCP’s National Commission has launched an important call:

“We call and advise the peasants to arm in the same way the self-defense organizations in the struggle for the land!”

Read also: Down with the CPI of the thief of Union lands! Conquer the land! Death to the latifundium!

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