It was after 8 pm when Jurandir Pacífico received the news of the death of his mother, Maria Bernadete Pacífico, leader of Quilombo Pitanga dos Palmares, in Simões Filho, metropolitan region of Salvador, Bahia.
“I had just spoken to my mother, she asked me to bring a thermos, I said I wouldn’t go, it was raining a lot in Salvador,” Jurandir told Brasil de Fato.
“My nephew called, he saw everything. She died in front of her two grandchildren. He called me urgently, asking me to go there.”
When he arrived at the place, Jurandir still found his mother’s body. “Crime with refinement of cruelty, execution, they executed my brother and now my mother. Crime of execution”, he laments.
According to the account of Bernadette’s relatives, two men arrived at the scene on a motorcycle and entered the terreiro wearing a helmet. When they found the quilombola leader, they fired several times, in front of the three grandchildren.
The crime was recorded by the terreiro cameras. According to Jurandir, the images were handed over to the Civil Police. Since receiving threats in 2021, Mãe Bernadette had cameras installed in her home and in the yard.
In recent years, Bernadette has struggled to make known those who ordered the murder of her son, Flávio Gabriel Pacífico dos Santos, known as Binho do Quilombo, in 2017.
“Five years ago, there was a big undertaking that cost my brother’s life, Binho’s life. Binho went there, blocked the work and the next day he died”. The “undertaking” referred to by Jurandir is a sanitary landfill, Águas Claras Ambiental, from the Solvís Essencis Group. Brasil de Fato reached out to the company, but has not received a response so far. If so, the text will be updated.
Since 2021, Bernadette claimed to have received death threats. For Jurandir, real estate speculation in the region is behind the attacks. “Here, within the quilombo, there are developments everywhere.”
For Vercilene Dias, legal coordinator of the National Coordination of Quilombos Articulation (Conaq), “the threats that Bernadette denounced were from the enterprises that wanted to operate within the territory, including the enterprise that ended the life of her son, which was the landfill Restroom.”
Biko, Conaq’s national coordinator, spoke about the land conflict in Simões Filho. “Quilombos are the frontier that prevents the voracity of capital. Were it not for this frontier, capital would have already destroyed everything. Our areas are besieged by agro and real estate speculation.”
Regarding the death of Bernadette, Biko stated: “It is very serious and sad news, it is the loss of a leader and a woman from the terreiro, who had her struggle fought in the territory. See, she lost her son six years ago defending the territory.”
“For us, it is important to say that the government and the Brazilian State do, in fact, regularize the quilombola territories. We cannot continue losing ours. President Lula needs to take urgent measures and put a policy for the quilombola people on the street. ”
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho