Solidarity for Brazilian activists

Responding to recent attacks against social activists in Brazil, an international RLA delegation went to Marabá, Pará.

The delegation was formed by Laureates Angie Zelter, representing Trident Ploughshares (RLA 2001), Raúl Montenegro (RLA 2004), and RLA trustee Marianne Andersson, a former member of the Swedish Parliament.

The threat

On January 25th, Cícero Guedes, leader of the Landless Workers Movement (MST), one of Brazil’s largest social movements, was shot dead in Rio De Janeiro by unknown gunmen. This murder is just one in an escalating number of attacks against Brazilian activists involved in a struggle for agrarian reform. The Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) confirms that the number of threatened activists in the country has spiked from 125 to 347 from 2010 to 2011.

The situation was particularly grave in the state of Pará, which according to a 2005 fact-finding report of the International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) accounts for 40% of total deforestation in Brazil and has both the highest rates of slavery and threatened human rights defenders in the country. The CPT reveals that 12 out of the 29 assassinations of Brazilian rural activists in 2011 happened in Pará. MST contends that the climate of impunity is so rampant in Pará that not a single person has ever been convicted for these crimes. 

Why a Laureates’ solidarity visit?

Marisa Do Espirito Santo Da Silva and José Claudio Ribeiro Da Silva

As part of their visit, the delegation spoke at a public debate on the problem of impunity for human rights violators in the University of Pará, Marabá on April 2nd. They also participated in a two-day “popular jury” that examined the cases of two prominent MST leaders, Marisa Do Espirito Santo Da Silva and José Claudio Ribeiro Da Silva, who were brutally murdered in 2011.

The delegation expressed solidarity with Brazilian activists, demanded urgent agrarian reform in Brazil and denounced crimes and attacks against activists.

Daily reports

Download and read the daily reports of the solidarity visit, written by Angie Zelter of Trident Ploughshares:


Sunday, 31st March
Arrival of the international delegation in Marabá.

Monday, 1st April
The delegates extended their solidarity with the activists by visiting important MST camps:

1. Frei Henry Campment: a settlement at the flashpoint of the battle between MST and Vale mining company.
2. April 17th Settlement: an MST settlement conquered after the infamous “Eldorado dos Carajás massacre” on April 17, 1996, where 19 landless farmers were shot dead for demonstrating for the appropriation of an unproductive ranch.
3. Helenira Resende encampment: a settlement at the flashpoint of the battle between MST and Santa Barbara Group.

Tuesday, 2nd April
AM: Press conference
PM: Public debate in University of Pará, Marabá

Wednesday, 3rd April and Thursday, 4th April
Delegates observed the trial of persons accused of committing the brutal murder of two MST leaders, Marisa Do Espirito Santo Da Silva and José Claudio Ribeiro Da Silva, who were killed in 2011.

Pictures of the visit

Visit to the MST Frei Henry campment
Picture of the delegation in front of the memorial to the 1996 massacre of Eldorado de Carajás.
Press conference
Panel talk
Raúl Montenegro during panel talk
Young activists outside the court
Strong reminders of the killing - outside the court
Raúl Montenegro, Angie Zelter and MST activists outside the court
Angie Zelter and Marianne Andersson awaiting the verdict
Inside the courtroom
Demonstrating for justice


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