Documentary produced by De Olho nos Ruralistas in partnership with CESE tells the story of people who live under threat in Maranhão

The team listened to six leaders out of the 114 witnesses in the Programme to Protect Human Rights Defenders in Maranhão, the state that suffers the most rural violence in Brazil

In October, in partnership with CESE, the De Olho nos Ruralistas observatory launched the documentary SOS Maranhão. The medium-length film tells the story of six people in the Programme to Protect Human Rights Defenders in the state that suffers the most rural violence in Brazil. The material was recorded during the Ecumenical Mission CESE held in Maranhão at the end of September.

The video reports on the impact of the advance of agribusiness and of large-scale logistical enterprises on the communities, and examines what it’s like to live under threat.  In all, 114 people’s lives are directly threatened in Maranhão, including environmentalists and peasant workers. According to the Pastoral Land Commission (Comissão Pastoral da Terra: CPT), between 2011 and 2020, the state recorded the highest number of rural conflicts in the country: 1,772 incidents.  Between 2020 and 2022, 21 leaders were killed and more than 30 thousand people threatened.

Featured among the stories told in the film is that of the Arariboia Indigenous Land, where 25 thousand out of 413 thousand hectares have been deforested since 2000.  Ranchers and loggers put pressure on the territory’s borders, where more than 5 thousand Guajajara live, including the isolated Awá-Guajá indigenous people.

The Cajueiro community in São Luís, and the Santa Rosa dos Pretos quilombo in Itapecuru-Mirim, suffer the pressure of large-scale projects, such as the expansion of the São Luís port, which Cosan intends to resume in 2024, and the works to duplicate the BR-135 highway, both announced by the federal government.