It’s Still April

Violent land issues mark this part of the Amazon. 25 years ago, on the 17th of April, the Eldorado do Carajás massacre happened. Wellington, resident of the Settlement 1st March, in the municipality of São João do Araguaia, Pará, wrote us about the meaning of this date.

Author: Wellington Saraiva Ferreira
Leia em Português.

We are the sons and daughters of this producing land
We are the raw splinters, sticks and nails of this place, 
even the leaden pinecones can’t silence us
Not even a deathly gag or fear of the dark, 
for the night is always darkest before the dawn.
We submerge and emerge ready to win, 
because our rebellion is described by three letters, MST.

(Poem Children of the Land by Wellington Saraiva Ferreira, 
17th April 2016, S curve of Eldorados dos Carajás, Pará)

It’s still April. For us peasants, especially in the territory of southern and southeastern Pará, April is a month of latency, because a feeling emerges within us that ranges from the struggle for agrarian reform to justice, which has not been served. What is known as the biggest massacre of rural workers ever witnessed to date, the massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás, remains unpunished.

Twenty-one workers were murdered on that 17th April 1996. Oziel Alves Pereira was the youngest worker killed in the massacre: he was 17 years old when he was executed.

This bloody episode left indelible marks in our memory for its inhumanity, but also because we simply will not let ourselves forget. We celebrate the memory of each fallen comrade during our training, our conquests, our watchwords, we celebrate them in each fence, each wire that we break through.

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Thus, as the song verse “a ground watered with blood makes the flower grow stronger” evokes, the massacre left its fruits: the workers’ revolt resulted in the occupation of the Pastoriza farm shortly after the massacre of the workers in Eldorado dos Carajás. It left fruit within the mystique of our movement, in our camps, in our youth, who, since 2006, on the tenth anniversary of the massacre, have started the Oziel Alves Pereira Camp for landless youths, transforming the S curve into a large space for training, resistance, and memory.

Today, in the face of the health crisis caused by this global pandemic, we have not held the Oziel Alves Pereira Camp for landless youths, but we still have not forgotten. We held a national day of action in defence of life, debating the need to fight for the vaccine, for emergency aid that provides actual help, and we held actions here in the Settlement 1st March, in the municipality of São João do Araguaia, a place of historical importance for rural workers, which had the goal of making our bases aware of the need for the vaccine. We cultivated the greatest militant virtue: Solidarity.

We collected almost half a ton of food to share with those who need it most during this time. The actions started on 10th April as a symbolic milestone of our educational camp. On 17th April, in the act of celebrating the memory of our martyrs, we occupied the Trans-Amazonian Highway (BR 230) for one hour. We finished the action on 18th April, when our workers delivered a basket of basic goods in an act of solidarity and love.

The month is ending, but it’s still April, so we have come here to reaffirm our commitment to the peasant working class. As long as there is even an inch of large-scale landed property in this nation, you will see a red flag, the colour of flesh, waving on the masts of the roadside encampments all over the country.

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