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Prominent Brazil leader of struggle for land shot by armed militias of big landlords

By Harsh Thakor* 
The member of the National Direction of the National Front of Struggle – Countryside and City (FNL), Geraldo Pires de Oliveira, of 52 years old, was the victim of a shooting attack in the municipality of Pirapora, in Minas Gerais. The man was struck in the hand while riding a motorcycle and is hospitalized. Geraldinho., He was  a prominent leader of the struggle for land in the region and had previously suffered threats and kidnappings from goons and police.
The ambush took place after Geraldo left the Camp Farm Prata, one of the FNL’s occupation sites in the state of Minas Gerais.
In a statement , the FNL stated that he “reaffirms his commitment to continue the struggle for the land” and that “this attack is one of the many carried out by the armed militias of big landlords against the leaders of landless workers, pastors and trade unionists”.
The Camp Farm Prata is one of the FNL’s occupation sites in the State of Minas Gerais. Before being occupied by peasants, the farm was paralysed in term sof productivity. The lands were mortgaged more than 20 years ago due to amassing  of unpaid debts, and currently is the property of  the State.
This does not stop threats and persecution against peasants and leaders who occupy the land. In June 2023, Geraldo was kidnapped by military police and accused of being the leader of land occupations in the region. The FNL condemned  the case as part of the pro-latifundia tirade of the Military Police in collaboration  with the goons.
“Everyone is aware that the farms in the region work with armed militias, that is, military police officers who do so-called “odd jobs”, when on their days off, they go to work […] for the big landlords”, said the statement.
The attack committed in the first days of 2024 continued the road  of other serious attacks on the masses, activists and leaders of the struggle for land of last year, a manifestation  of the resurrection  of the struggle for land in the country.
The first month of 2023 was also marked by attacks of this type, which took the lives of three peasants in January alone. They were Patrick Gasparini, Raniel Laurindo and Rodrigo Hawerroth.
The tendency prevailed throughout the year, with new murders, torture, invasions and intimidation against peasants, indigenous people, quilombolas and other masses struggling for land in the country, a routine phenomenan. With the escalation of these conflicts, organizations such as the League of Poor Peasants (LCP) issued a statement calling on peasants to form self-defence armed groups to resist the attacks by goons.
Peasants also exhibited relentless spirit to maintain the struggle for land in the form of new occupations and defence of lands already taken. From February to December, land seizures or important gatherings to defend the occupied territories were undertaken from the North to the South of the Country, in a movement that is expected to intensify in the coming months.
The League of Poor Peasants of the North of Minas and South of Bahia, and the National Commission of the Leagues of Poor Peasants of Brazil, in no uncertain terms the cowardly shooting attack against comrade Geraldo Pires, dear Geraldinho, national leader of the National Front of Struggle – Countryside and City (FNL), as well as a regional leader with combative activity in the North of Minas, mainly Pirapora, in the struggle for the lands of the former Farm Prata latifundium. The  big landowners and the shameless  extreme right, which, backed by  the bayonets of corrupt generals, as well as these state military police that impart devices  to murder poor people and black people, were  responsible for tanother heinous crime.
All over Brazil, gangs of big landlords and gunmen, are always patronised  by the local military police, with repossession orders distributed everywhere by this rotten justice system – or even without this fake paper –, attack peasants, indigenous people and quilombolas, struggling for their lands or territories. All this is endorsed by extreme right-wing governors, and deputies of all kinds.
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*Freelance journalist

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