April 17: Brazil's National Day of Struggle for Agrarian Reform

On April 17, 1996, close to 1500 rural landless workers began a march to the Pará state capital of Belém, Brazil with the goal of presenting their demands to resolve their land situation. When they arrived to the city of Eldorado do Carajás, the march stopped so that people could rest, but they were attacked by more than 100 military police officers who fired live ammunition into the crowd of demonstrators, killing 19. In 2002 then Brazilian president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, declared April 17 to be the "National Day of Struggle for Agrarian Reform."

Vinicius Mansur

 

Originally published in Brasil de Fato on April 15.

 

Translation by NACLA.

 

(Brasilia—Brazil) In the state of Pará, by April 17, 1996, close to 1500 rural landless workers had fought for roughly two years for their right to settle on an unproductive piece of land after being expelled from their own lands. They began a march to the Pará state capital of Belém with the goal of presenting their demands to resolve their situation.

 

When they arrived to the city of Eldorado do Carajás, the march stopped so that the women and children could rest, but they were attacked by more than 100 military police officers who fired live ammunition into the crowd of demonstrators. 19 workers were killed, 69 were wounded, and we don’t know how many were disappeared. Until today, no one has been held responsible for this crime against the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST). Even worse: the police officers that were brought to trial were absolved and set free.

 

The same day, upon learning of these facts, peasant leaders from around the world, members of Via Campesina, already meeting in Tlaxcala, Mexico, at their Second International Conference, declared April 17 to be the "International Day of the Peasant Struggle.”

 

On June 25, 2002 then Brazilian president, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, declared April 17 to be the "National Day of Struggle for Agrarian Reform."
 

Please click on this video made by the Communication Collective of CLOC (Latin American Coordination of Countryside Organizations)—Via Campesina.

 

 

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