Hundreds of people, including conspirators, intermediaries and gunmen,
are involved in murder cases in the Brazilian state of Pará.
In a city like Xinguara, with 76 rural workers murdered in the last
thirty years, there has yet to be a single crime brought to justice.
This represents a rate of impunity of 100%. The city of São
Geraldo do Araguaia, with 49 murders in the same period, has an
identical rate of impunity. This occurs in São Félix
do Xingu as well, with 37 murders, and in Marabá, with 35
murders. Among the 40 municipalities that compose south and southeastern
Pará, only two, Rio Maria and Eldorado do Carajás,
do not have a rate of impunity of 100% in relation to murders of
agricultural workers in the last thirty years.
Violence and Impunity: Permanent Reality
in the state of Pará
Batista Gonçalves Afonso*
If the pattern of violence in the southern and southeastern regions
of Pará is impressive, the impunity shocks us even more.
The agrarian conflicts have resulted, in the past 18 years, in innumerable
slaughters in which the complicity of public officials with organized
crime in the countryside has been unequivocal. Conspirators and
murderers are not arrested or even brought to trial, arrest warrants
are not carried through, and gunmen act in conjunction with police.
remember here a few examples of brutal crimes against rural workers
and regional leaders whose assassins and enemies have never been
Slaughter at Dois Irmãos / Xinguara / June 1985 / six workers
Slaughter at Ingá / Conceição do Araguaia /
May 1985 / thirteen workers dead
Slaughter at Surubim / Xinguara / June 1985 / seventeen workers
Slaughter at Ubá Farm / São João do Araguaia
06/13/198506/18/1985 / eight workers murdered
Slaughter at Princesa Marabá Farm / 09/28/1985 / five workers
Slaughter at Paraúnas / São Geraldo do Araguaia /
06/101986 / ten workers murdered
Slaughter at Goianésia / Goianésia do Pará
/ 10/281987 / two workers and a minor murdered
Slaughter at Pastorisa Farm / São João do Araguaia
/ 08/061995 / three workers murdered
Massacre at Eldorado do Carajás / Eldorado do Carajás
/ 04/171996 / nineteen workers murdered
Slaughter at São Francisco Farm / Eldorado do Carajás
/ 08/21199601/041997 / five workers murdered
Slaughter at Santa Clara Farm / Ourilândia do Norte / 01/13/1997
/ three workers murdered
Slaughter at Morada Nova / 07/10/2001 / two workers murdered, one
less than 15 years old
also cite the murders of important leaders in the region, who risked
themselves in the intransigent defense of the rights of agricultural
workers: Gabriel Pimenta, attorney (06/05/1982), Sister Adelaide
Molinari, Catholic nun (05/02/1985), João Canuto, union leader
(12/18/1985), Expedito Ribeiro, union leader (02/02/91), Arnaldo
Delcídio Ferreira, union leader (05/02/1993), Antônio
Teles, union leader and wife, Alcina Gomes (10/12/1994), Onalício
Araújo Barros and Valentim Serra, MST leaders (03/26/1998),
Francisco Euclides de Paula, union leader (05/201999), José
Dutra da Costa, union leader (11/22/2000), and José Pinheiro
Lima, union leader (07/09/2001).
above-mentioned crimes and slaughters are just a few of the hundreds
of murders that have occurred in the region in the past thirty years
and that continue unpunished even today.
we recognize the exceptional importance of the conviction of landowner
Jerônimo Alves do Amorim (06/06/2000) for the death of Expedito
Ribeiro, and the conviction of Adilson Carvalho Laranjeiras and
Vantuir de Paula (05/29/2003) for the death of João Canuto,
it should be acknowledged that these were the first and only conspirators
against rural workers to be brought to trial for their actions.
It stands to mention, however, that the landowner Jerônimo
Amorim faces house arrest and the other two landowners are awaiting
their appeal in freedom. Thus, even after being convicted, it is
unlikely they will complete their sentences behind bars because
of their political influence.
trial of two military police officers that carried out the massacre
at Eldorado do Carajás on April 17, 1996 is yet another clear
example of how the State and Judiciary Power creates impunity. The
then-governor of the state (Almir Gabriel), the Secretary of Public
Security, and the Commander General of the Military Police, responsible
for the order to clear the obstruction of highway PA 150 "at
any cost," were excluded from the trial. During the course
of the proceedings, the State Judiciary Power behaved scandalously,
clearly favoring the accused. The first hearing that took place
on August 16, 1999, in which the officials that commanded the operation
were absolved, was annulled due to the biased behavior of the presiding
judge. During the second hearing (May 21, 2002), the stand taken
by the judge clearly in favor of the accused was such that the social
movements and the prosecuting attorneys left the hearing in protest.
The result: only two commanders were convicted and are awaiting
appeal in freedom. All the other officials and police, numbering
142 officers, have been absolved. Impunity has triumphed.
sadly, has not received any attention, especially on the part of
the State Judiciary Power of Pará that, by remaining completely
permissive in practice, stubbornly shows itself ignorant of the
intimate connection between continuing impunity and further murders
in the region.
of people, including conspirators, intermediaries, and gunmen, are
involved in murder cases throughout the state of Pará. In
spite of this fact, only five criminal convictions have been recorded
- (1) Jerônimo Alves de Amorim (conspirator), (2) Francisco
de Assis Ferreira (intermediary) and José Serafim Sales (gunman),
(3) Ubiratan Ubirajara (gunman), (4) two military officials (Mário
Pantoja and José M. Oliveira) that oversaw the Massacre at
Eldorado and (5) Adilson Laranjeira and Vantuir Paula (conspirators).
first three mentioned are involved in the murder of Expedito Ribeiro
de Souza, president of the Agricultural Workers Union of Rio Maria,
on 02/02/1991. The fourth on the list is involved in the murder
of José Canuto and Paulo Canuto, directors of the Agricultural
Workers Union of Rio Maria, on April 22, 1991.
Ubirajara, convicted to fifty years behind bars, remained imprisoned
six months before escaping from the penitentiary in October of 1994.
He was never again captured. José Serafim Sales, convicted
to 25 years, completed eight years of his sentence before escaping
prison on March 14, 2000. He was never captured.
de Assis Ferreira, convicted in 1994 to 21 years of prison, has
been free since 1998.
Alves de Amorim, who gave the order for the killing of union leader
Expedito Ribeiro in Rio Maria in February of 1991, is today under
house arrest in Goiâna. All others found guilty await appeal
against their convictions.
the last few years, in light of irrefutable evidence, the Civil
Police has arrested, with judicial authorization (by directives
of preventative imprisonment), some landowners who have ordered
assassinations, not definitively convicted judicially. One of these
cases is the landowner Carlos Antônio da Costa, who ordered
the murder of two MST organizers - Onalício Araújo
Barros ("Fusquinha") and Valentin Serra ("Doctor")
- in Parauapebas, in March of 1998. The other case involves the
landowner Décio José Barroso Nunes, who ordered the
murder of José Dutra da Costa ("Dezinho"), ex-president
of the Agricultural Workers Union of Rondon do Pará, in November
of 2000. Carlos Antônio da Costa remained imprisoned under
suspicion for 22 days, Décio José Barroso Nunes for
only 13 days. Both were let go by decision of the Justice Tribunal
of the state of Pará. They are accused of committing violent
crimes - murders - legally classified as hideous crimes.
the 1,207 cases of murdered rural workers in the period between
1985 and March of 2001, there were 85 definitive verdicts against
those involved, resulting in an average of 93% of the total without
south and southeastern Pará, during the same period (1985
to March 2001), 340 rural workers were murdered. Of all these crimes,
only two were brought to trial with those responsible, resulting
in an average of 99.41% of murders without any criminal judicial
resolution - conviction or absolution.
a city like Xinguara, with 76 rural workers murdered in the last
thirty years, there has yet to be a single crime brought to justice.
This represents a rate of impunity of 100%. In São Geraldo
do Araguaia, with 49 murders during the same period, there is an
identical rate of impunity. This occurs also in São Félix
do Xingu, with 37 killings, and in Marabá, with 35 murders.
the 40 municipalities that compose south and southeastern Pará,
only two, Rio Maria and Eldorado do Carajás, do not have
a rate of impunity of 100% in relation to murders of agricultural
workers in the last thirty years (1972-2002).
José Batista Gonçalves Afonso is an attorney and national
coordinator of the Agrarian Commission of Land, Comissão
Pastoral da Terra (CPT).