Three land activists in the state of Minas Gerais were murdered this past weekend, and police are now investigating whether the murders were “linked to [the activists’] effort to win rights to land also contested by owners of a sugar mill.”
Watchdog groups said police were questioning land activists about the possibility the killings could have resulted from an internal conflict within their movement. The groups rejected that idea and accused landowners of paying gunmen to shoot the activists.
Suffice to say, I find the movement’s allegations far more probable than the police’s suspicion of internal group violence, primarily because for more than a decade, landowners and the wealthy in Brazil have not only prevented the landless and indigenous groups from having access to land and resources, but have been connected to the murders of dozens of activists a year. This one-sided cycle of violence has lasted for years, yet impunity is still the standard operating procedure, and rarely do either the murderers or the landowners ever face charges, much less convictions. Hopefully, the police will fully investigate this latest case and bring the murderers, whomever they may be, to justice, but given the recent past and the failure to address the legal and social inequalities at play here, I’m not hopeful.