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Ecumenical Mission Letter

8th to 10th November, 2017

We are living witnesses of the cruel limits which human greed can reach, turning against brothers and sisters, God’s creatures.

The history of the concentration of land, wealth and power in the hands of a few has left a trail of blood and misery on land in the south and southeast of Pará for many years.

Twenty people were murdered in this region in 2017.

In the Jane Júlia camp, in the municipality of Pau d’Arco, the brutal massacre of one woman and nine men took place on 24th May this year, killed by the municipality of Redenção police force. These brothers and sisters, from at least 25 families, were awaiting the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform’s (INCRA) negotiations to purchase the Santa Lúcia Farm, for social interest.  They are camping and now suffering eviction by judicial order, accused of crime, until now, while under a further order of investigation, the police forces, instead of fulfilling their mandate, decided to carry out an execution – hunting, trapping, torturing and murdering these brothers and sister at close range.

Due to the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) and State Public Prosecution Service’s actions, 15 policemen are under arrest and awaiting prosecution and trial. Considering the historic impunity in the region, this is a step which provides hope that justice will be done.

But, to achieve true justice, more is required. The investigations, carried out with the Federal Police’s (PF) support, have resulted in arrests. However, the PF must return to the region and carry out more in-depth investigations, produce more evidence and find those who funded the gunmen, the use of private security companies and even police agents to kill the men and women who want a piece of land to produce and live on.

The families of Pau D’Arco still feel threatened. They are pressured by judicial eviction orders and INCRA’s slow progress in the definitive purchase of the farm where they need to be settled.

This type of threat, with evictions ordered by the agrarian judge, is not something restricted to Pau D’Arco, but spreads throughout an extensive area between the municipalities of Redenção and Marabá, where the camps, where approximately one thousand families reside, have their evictions ordered.  They are all scheduled to take place in November and December, 2017.

What justice is this? Where will these people go, with their children and elderly members?

What will become of these lives which have lived, produced, lovingly cared for their elderly members and educated their children in schools built there with their own hands, for more than five years?

Is it in search of misery and death that the agrarian judge takes decisions in favour of the landowners, legitimizing the land-grabbing in the region? An example of this is the repossessions in favour of the Grupo Santa Bárbara and former-banker Daniel Dantas, involved in scandal, and who now presents himself as a rural producer. The fact that this farming activity focuses on 500,000 hectares of land in the south and southeast of Pará alone is outrageous. A further example of land-grabbing is the Santa Teresa Farm, which is an area claimed by the Hugo Chávez Camp, whose alleged owner is Rafael Saldanha.

We came and felt the pain in our hearts of the extreme outrage of the workers, cowering in fear, wanting to live for hope and courage. People who welcomed our Mission, crying out for justice, with warm embraces, although exposed in raw flesh.

We cannot remain silent! We have joined together our hearts and voices, so that a time of peace and justice is achieved in the south and southeast of Pará. Therefore, by their side, we are calling for:

  • – The judges from the agrarian courts of Marabá and Redenção to stop their eviction orders for repossession against the camps and occupations;
  • – The State of Pará Governor to not carry out the judicial eviction orders in favour of true justice, considering that the claimed areas do not fulfil their social function; they are the result of land-grabbing and should be allocated to agrarian reform;
  • – INCRA to play its role in agrarian reform and immediately purchase the Santa Lúcia Farm, providing a settlement and strength for the families of Pau D’Arco, and to finalize the procedures to acquire other occupied areas in the region;
  • – The Minister of Justice, Torquato Jardim, to determine the PF’s immediate return to Redenção; to continue the work coordinated by the State Public Prosecution Service; to carry out further investigations to ascertain who ordered the Pau d’Arco massacre and those backing the growing agrarian violence in the region.

Thus, we undertake this Mission, calling on all those who wish to see the result of true justice, peace.

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