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Landlords' armed bandits launched merciless attack in Brazil but face resistance

By Harsh Thakor 

Armed bandits called the “zero invasion movement” comprising of landowners, gunmen and police marched into   Bahia with support from the PM [Military Police]. On January 21st, indigenous Maria de Fátima Muniz, known as Nega Pataxó, shaman of the Pataxó Hã-Hã-Hãe people, was shot dead in the Caramuru Catarina Paraguassu Indigenous Land and chief Nailton Muniz was seriously injured by gunshots, as were others indigenous people during an attack by the notorious  paramilitary group.
Furthermore, the gang of more than 200 landowners who organized themselves and prepared the attack, set fire to 2 cars and other belongings of the indigenous people. A young Pataxó who resisted the cowardly attack was ridiculously taken into custody by the military police, the very ones who disguised the cowardly action, as the videos prove.
Bahia has the second largest indigenous population in Brazil, with more than 90% of whom residing outside their territories, making it the state that has phenomenal concentrations of land ownership in Brazil. In the country, there is practically no demarcation of indigenous lands and Quilombola territories and negligible implementation of Agrarian Reforms.
 The extreme right-wing landowners that were institutionalized in this old State, sponsored during the Bolsonaro government continue to mercilessly attack the people,particularly in Bahia. The approval of the Marco Temporal [law] is a mortal blow to the original peoples and escalates these attacks. In December 2023, the Pataxó chief, Lucas Kariri Sapuyá, aged 31, was shot dead in an ambush in the same indigenous territory. In August last year, quilombola leader Mãe Bernadete Pacifico was murdered with 14 shots busted in his head.
Throughout the country, attacks against indigenous peoples are a routine affair, peasants and quilombolas and their leaders and, as in the recent case, the police often perform camouflage for armed gangs of the latifundium, placing communities into submission. Furthermore, there are several reports of police participating directly in these heavily armed paramilitary gangs, complying with gunmen, through private security companies that patronize extermination groups, like the one that murdered Mariele Franco.
The governor of Bahia Jeronimo Rodrigues has now announced the creation of a PM company to “mediate” agrarian conflicts in the State. 

Resistance of Mae Bernadete

The Mãe Bernadete Camp in Carinhanha, consisting of  occupants who reside on  land abandoned by Calsete for over 20 years, has been resisting and condemning  the actions of these gangs of criminals involving gunmen, police officers, loggers, farmers, businessmen and even a lawyer (who would have received as a promise of payment a part of the confiscated land, where families live) who unscrupulously uses  his influence with the judiciary in the city and family relationships to intimidate and threaten the families and makes a point of ridiculously placing himself at the head of eviction operations, including cutting wires.
From January last year until this year, the local court judge has already declared 3 repossession orders against the families and carried out two police eviction operations, cooperating  with gunmen. The families returned and re asserted their conviction that the lands of Lagoa dos Portácios, which were robbed due to Calsete’s environmental crimes, belong to the peasants, and that would fight till the last drop of their blood to win them.
Calsete, acting through its manager Lineu Fernandes, directly commands an operations base built along BR 030 [highway] after the land seizure, spends tons of money trying to recruit people in the city and region, on the false pretext to be property guards, but they soon discover that they are actually being hired to be gunmen. Several peasants are being forced   to own up to committing crimes at the city police station, on account of being pressured and threatened to criminalize a collective cause. The crimes are actually committed by Calsete and its agents.
The reactionary offensive of the Latifundium backs massacres in the favelas of the cities and in the countryside escalates violence against indigenous people and intensifies criminalization of the struggle for land. What is amply illustrated is indigenous people, quilombolas and peasants, in the fight for their rights, have to wage a struggle of right to self-defense.
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Harsh Thakor is freelance journalist

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