Brazil’s national day of struggle for land reform was a chance to call for social justice and an end to impunity, and to remember the 21 companions killed in the Massacre of Eldorado de Carajas during a Military Police operation in 1996.
Thousands of landless peasants and small farmers gathered in Brasilia during the week to demand that the Federal government take responsibility for promises it made to rural communities after the massacre – to provide homes for people, develop the local economy and provide education. Most Rev Mauricio Andrade, Archbishop of Brazil, gave powerful witness to the continuing need for justice for landless people and subsistence farmers.
Sixteen years after the massacre, landless people continue to face hardship, suffering at the hands of poverty and continued acts of violence. Commanders of the Military Police operation – sentenced to a combined 220 years in prison – remain free and there has been no justice for the victims. Some families have been living in tents for more than ten years.
Anglican Primate, the Most Reverend D. Mauricio Andrade, spoke out at a round table event held at the National Congress against Impunity. He told of how the Church in Brazil has long stood in solidarity with landless people, peasants and small farmers. The Anglican Diocese of Pelotas, Province of Rio Grande de Sul, has been working with landless people through the Small Farmers Pastoral Service. Many Anglicans, including the Primate, joined the Landless March in 2005, which saw over 12,000 walk the 220 kilometres from Goiania to Brasilia in protest.