Grassroots International

Stand with Brazilian farmers occupying land

Our partners at the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil need your help. Under the Brazilian Constitution, landless families have the right to occupy arable land that is not being used to grown food to feed themselves.

The small farmers and their families occupying underutilized land on the Serro Azul farm in Pernambuco have been facing grave threats and acts of violence. Since mid-April when the occupation began, small farmers have been shot upon and physically beaten by thugs hired by the landowners. And, the local authorities have yet to start any criminal investigations or enforce any laws protecting the human rights of the families in the encampment.

Please take action today to stop this brutality and impunity against landless families in Pernambuco.

**Please note that the English translation of the letter appears at the bottom of the page for your reference.

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[ENGLISH VERSION]
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am writing to express my deep outrage at the violence against landless families camped on the farm Serro Azul in the city of Altinho.

According to the testimony of the families, Mr. Luiz Reis (an employee of the Serro Azul farm)and  three gunmen physically assaulted Ms. Josefa Maria de Belquior (a landless woman) by clutching her neck trying to choke her on February 19.

The Serro Azul farm was first occupied by landless rural workers on April 17, 2011. Since that time, these families have suffered threats, intimidation and physical violence by the permanent representative of the farm, Mr. Luiz Reis, gunmen hired by him, by the police and the municipalities of Altinho Agrestina, by the deputy, the prosecutor and the judge of the county of Altinho. The camp was also the scene of two episodes of forced evictions, the first in October 2011 and the last one in early March of this year, which resulted in serious human rights violations.

On March 22, 2012, landless rural worker Mr. Anthony, a member of the encampment at Camp Serro Azul in the municipality of Altinho, was approached by Mr. Luiz Reis and four other people on the road that connects the town of Santo Antônio to the camp. After placing a gun to his head he was brutally beaten, resulting in multiple bruises and a broken rib .

As if that was not enough, gunmen fired at landless families camped near the Serro Azul Farm in the city of Altinho, hitting two women and a teenager.

The landless families are occupying and demanding access to underutilized farmland, which is their Constitutional right. They should not be targets of such violence and impunity.

The investigation and punishment of those involved in these acts of violence, as well as those who are legitimized by the government, is urgent and critical. It is also important that the Serro Azul farm is immediately seized by the government because it is the only way to truly stop the violence against the families of the camp Gregorio Bezerra. 

I hope that you take the necessary measures to protect the rights of landless families of Serro Azul.

Thank you for your time,