After former members of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) made unproven accusations against the entity before the MST Parliamentary Commission of Investigation (CPI) in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, the organization issued a note denying the allegations, criticizing the which he calls “the fragility of the accusations” and affirming that the initiative seeks to “criminalize the movement, attack the federal government and agitate the Bolsonaro social base.” At the request of the opposition, the ICC heard this Wednesday the 9th from the farmers Joviniano José Rodrigues and Noemia José dos Santos, who formed the base of the entity in the state of Goiás nearly 20 years ago.
Both accused the movement, among other things, of allegedly diverting resources, turning landless camps into “captivity” and practicing physical violence against them. In an interview with Brasil de Fato, the organization denied all the accusations. MST leader Gilvan Rodrigues, of the Goiás MST, stated that the couple was camped in the place where the Canudos Settlement now operates, in the municipality of Palmeiras, in the Goiânia Metropolitan Region, and they were expelled from the unit due to to denunciations of theft that fell on Joviniano. The MST indicates that the decision was made by the 329 families that inhabited the place.
“Look, Joviniano accused the movement of embezzling money, but they were expelled precisely for embezzling community resources. At the time, police reports were made, inquiries from both the Civil Police and the Federal Police, but this did not generate a demand, and Justice did not give them the right to return to the place, that is, they lost the case.”
When analyzing the case, Judge João Divino Moreira Silvério Souza denied the couple’s right to return to the camp, considering that the action did not meet the necessary legal requirements. The order was given on October 31, 2001. Gilvan Rodrigues complains about the strategy adopted by the Bolsonaro wing in the ICC and affirms that the opposition tries to “criminalize the movement and make any possibility of agrarian reform and fight for the land in the country”.
“Since then they have been looking for facts that have no relevance to the agrarian reform process, but are used to create a circus scenario, of war, to try to incriminate the movement. However, we have seen that this is not having an effect. because the cause of the agrarian reform, the relationship of the MST with society is bigger than those factoids that these deputies try to raise and guide every day in the ICC, but that have no foundation or any real basis,” added Rodrigues.
The leader’s arguments are in line with what parliamentarians from the progressive camp have said during the work of the ICC. During the session of this Wednesday the 9th, the deputy Sâmia Bomfim (Socialism and Freedom Party – PSOL São Paulo) complained about the lack of materiality in the speech of the declarants. “Again, just like yesterday, a series of accusations were made, with serious conclusions, without presenting any type of evidence, document, nothing that officially records what happened. So I wonder what the deputies intend to do in an ICC, which is a Parliamentary Investigation Commission, which in theory has to be serious to find out, investigate and refer based on a real diagnosis,” he provoked.
“But what is the real diagnosis that is being made here, if there is no document, data or evidence? There are only accusatory arguments with nothing that gives materiality to absolutely none of these accusations. What is the purpose of this? The criminalization of social movements, and that is clear even before the ICC started,” the deputy continued. The parliamentarian was also ironic about the fact that the complaints by Joviniano José Rodrigues and Noemia José dos Santos arose just 22 years after the period in which the couple formed the base of the movement.
“I would like to ask that we have access to the alleged Police Reports, for example, because they are such serious issues, that they took place in the year 2000, and no competent body in this country investigated, investigated, and punished absolutely no one. Several governments, five MST CPI, and this issue was not even addressed or raised? We even went through Bolsonaro’s own government, and he never did anything to find out, to give an answer?”, he inquired.
The MST speaks
In an official note released at the beginning of the night of this Wednesday, the 9th, the MST complained that no evidence related to the crimes imputed to the organization had been presented. “The way in which the base of Bolsonaro deputies uses poor people to attack the fight for agrarian reform was evidenced. This time, they rescued an uncertain event, which occurred more than 20 years ago in Goiás, to justify the discourse of criminalization against the MST Thus, they launch a series of statements, point to crimes, involve names of militants, mention alleged consequences of violent practices, but at no time do they present an investigation, criminal proceeding, conviction or medical report that proves said consequences of violence practiced, despite the seriousness of the indicated crimes”.
The entity also assures that there is no landless militant who has been convicted of the events evoked by the couple and points out that this “shows the fragility of the accusations.” The MST also complains about the lack of proportionality in conducting the work of the ICC, which has a Bolsonaro majority and for this reason has favored, in recent months, the voting on opposition requests. In mid-July, Brasil de Fato reported a survey showing that 60 of the 70 applications approved by the collegiate so far were all from the opposition.
“Until now, only one audience has been held with guests designated by the government base. It is not possible to give credibility to an investigation that listens only to one side. Bolsonarista deputies distort what the declarants say, induce responses, all with the intention of to legitimize their attacks. In a universe of almost 2 million people settled by agrarian reform, they have used, up to now, seven people to try to support their speeches against social movements,” the note added.
Finally, the document accuses the ICC of not investigating the real situation of the conflicts that mark the country’s rural areas. “The lack of seriousness on the part of the Bolsonarista deputies, who do not bother to discuss in depth the agrarian reform and the true evils of the countryside – slave labor, land grabbing, deforestation, fires – is bringing this ICC to an end. It could be an important space for debate on an issue relevant to society, but the fury of Bolsonaro criminalization prevents any kind of serious debate”.
Editing: Rodrigo Chagas and Nadini Lopes