The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), an autonomous institution of the Organization of American States (OAS), was in Brazil from November 5 to 12 to collect information on human rights violations.

The IACHR has focused on discrimination, inequality, poverty, democratic institutions and public policies on human rights. It also gathered information on the public security situation, both urban and rural. During a visit to Brasilia and the states of Bahia, Maranhão, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rio de Janeiro, Roraima and São Paulo, the Inter-American Commission noted the situation of access to justice and the possible situation of impunity in cases of serious violations of human rights.

Located on the border between Salvador and Simões Filho, Quilombo Rio dos Macacos was one of the places of visit of the Inter-American Commission in the State of Bahia. The quilombola community of Rio dos Macacos is marked by conflicting coexistence with the Navy since the 1970s (when the Naval Base of Aratu settled in the area): a history of aggressions, threats, torture practices, destruction of the economic potential of the community, violation of social rights and expulsion of several families who lived in the territory for generations.

Of the 301 hectares of the area required, 104 were destined for the titling of community possession, through ordinance 623 of the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra), published in the Official Gazette in November 2015. Even with recognition by the Public Power  from the community right to the territory, the Navy creates obstacles to the conclusion of the process, with the definitive titration of the traditional territory.

In front of the president of the IACHR, Margarette May Macaulay and her team, Rosemeire dos Santos (one of the leaders of Rio dos Macacos), lists the main points that the community asks the attention of the Commission: titling the territory; decent housing; turn-down access and access to water.


On this last point, the area demarcated in the titling of the territory leaves out the access to the local river. “They [the Navy] want to build a wall that draws water from the community, takes away our spring. In 1989, we had this experience, they surrounded the dam and, whoever passed, they killed”, recalls Rose.

On the right to come and go, the request goes beyond the construction of an alternative entrance to the Base of the Navy: but also the safety of the women of the community. Cases of physical and sexual violence against women in the community are known. Some girls and teens even avoid going to school to protect their bodies.


Support from partner organizations

Several organizations supporting the struggle of the Rio dos Macacos went along with the visits like: the Association of Rural Workers’ Lawyers (AATR),   the National Coordination of Rural Black Quilombola Communities (Conaq), Cáritas Regional Nordeste 3, Terra de Direitos, CESE, Public Defender of the State of Bahia, General Ombudsman, fishermen and fisherwomen of the Island of Maré and quilombolas of São Francisco do Paraguaçu.

The need for titling these lands to come out this year is pointed out by Carlos Eduardo Lemos Chaves, popular lawyer and coordinator of the AATR, since the president-elect has already announced at several moments that he will not titrate land during his warrant.

The ombudswoman Vilma Reis points out that the coming of the Inter-American Commission is fundamental, especially since what is decided in Rio dos Macacos will influence all other quilombola communities in the country. “We hope that your voice will cross the ocean and expose this government, which has already said in a campaign that will not titrate any centimeter of territory. When a president says that, we need international help. It will be a physical elimination. For us, we are the land and the land is us”, the ombudswoman addressed Macaulay, causing the commotion of the president of the IACHR.

“We do not want to live in the past. The past that lives in us will transform this country for the better”, says Denildo Rodrigues de Moraes (Biko), from Conaq, asking for the support of the commissioner, since of the five thousands quilombolas communities in Brazil, only 200 are titled.

“Much of what we have seen here are crimes against humanity. We have to prevent the construction of the wall and push for titration. States that have had slavery in their territories are indebted to these people and we must treat them with dignity. The commission will do its best for the Brazilian government to respond and implement what you need”, the IACHR president Margaret May Macaulay committed herself, ending the visit to Rio dos Macacos.


Preliminary report

The criminalization and typification of popular movements as terrorists, the attacks and murders of human rights activists and the return of Brazil to the map of hunger are some of the main points of the preliminary report that the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) presented Monday (12) at a press conference in Rio de Janeiro. The group had not visited Brazil for 23 years.

During the presentation of the document, the country’s rapporteur for Brazil of the IACHR, Antonia Urrejola, warned of the risks of expanding the so-called Anti-Terrorism Law, if Congress approved a supplementary amendment by Senator Magno Malta (PR-ES).

“The IACHR has reaffirmed to different countries in the region that anti-terrorist laws should not be used to criminalize the right to demonstrate and associate”, said the IACHR delegate, who drew attention to the increase in the number of killings of human rights defenders of human rights.


Access here the preliminary document released by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights


 (With information from Brazil de Fato and PAD – Process of Articulation and Dialogue)