The Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) registered 211 conflicts in the countryside across Bahia in 2022. The state remains in third place in this ranking and is only behind Maranhão (225) and Pará (236). In addition, the CPT also recorded a 16.42% increase in the number of conflicts in Bahia, a much higher rate than the national rate (10.39%).
Last Tuesday (15), the CPT-BA, in partnership with the Association of Rural Workers Lawyers (AATR) and the Research Group Geography of Settlements in the Rural Area (Geografar/UFBA), launched the Conflicts section in Campo Brasil 2022, which also features the survey carried out in Bahia. At the event, organizations, movements and peasant communities from various parts of the state came together to denounce violence.
In the 2022 notebook, the CPT also registered 69 manifestations involving more than 28 thousand people throughout the state, which gives the dimension of the resistance processes in the countryside. The CPT registers conflicts over land and water, work analogous to slavery and actions of occupation and repossession of territories.
In Bahia, land conflicts represent the vast majority, with 156 records and the involvement of more than 8,700 families. This category includes all actions of resistance and confrontation for possession, use and ownership of land and also for access to natural resources.
In her analysis during the event, lawyer Juliana Oliveira, from AATR, highlighted that these conflicts have not only increased in recent years, but have also become more barbaric. “More and more, there are conflicts that put the lives of peasants at risk”, she emphasized in her speech at the launch of the notebook, held at the auditorium of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), in Salvador.
Data on death threats and aggression corroborate what Juliana points out. Between 2021 and 2022 there was a 175% increase in the number of people assaulted and 170% in death threats in the state. The CPT also recorded the murder of three people: Elizeu Barbosa dos Santos and Adnilson Barbosa do Nascimento, landless, murdered in Itaetê, in October and November 2022; and Gustavo Pataxó, aged just 14, killed in the municipality of Prado in September.
Throughout Brazil, indigenous peoples are the population that suffers most from conflicts in the countryside, followed by settlers. In Bahia, however, the scenario has been different for some years now. In 2022, background communities and pasture closures were the target of 43% of all conflicts registered in the state. Next are indigenous peoples (16%), quilombola and landless people (15% each), with very similar rates.
The traditional communities at the bottom and end of the pasture exist, with this name, only in Bahia. These are forms of occupation of the territory typical of the semi-arid region of Bahia, in which communities use communal areas to raise livestock (cattle, sheep and/or goats) on the loose, with extractivism and the cultivation of crops in individual plots also being common.
Professor Guiomar Germani, one of the coordinators of Geografar/UFBA, pointed out, in her speech at the event, the great diversity that characterizes these communities. During the launch of the CPT section, Guiomar explained that there are communities at the bottom and at the bottom made up of indigenous people, quilombolas, riverside dwellers, etc., an example of the great diversity of the peasantry in Bahia.
Although the numbers of conflicts have grown in Bahia, there has been a curious decrease in the number of people involved in these cases. Roseilda Conceição, from the CPT, explains this change by the recurrence of cases of violence in the same territory. In her presentation at the event, she cited the example of the community at the bottom of Cupim, in the municipality of Correntina, and the Quilombo Fortaleza, in Bom Jesus da Lapa, which were repeatedly attacked in 2022.
Another factor, pointed out by Juliana Oliveira, from AATR, is the concentration of resources, which led to an increase in conflicts, with a decrease in the causative agents. That is, in different territories of the state, the agents causing conflicts in the countryside are repeated.
CPT research points out that, in 2022, in Bahia, 40% of all conflicts were caused by agribusiness and wind energy companies. Then come farmers (26%) and mining companies (6%).
One of the peasants* who gave testimony during the event exemplifies these cases. In his community, in the municipality of Cordeiros, the most constant threats are eucalyptus monoculture agents, miners and wind energy companies, always with recurrent threats and violence.
He claims that, currently, there are at least three water sources that have disappeared from the territory due to the actions of these companies. The community, which lives off extractivism and artisanal production of brown sugar and flour, feels cornered and sees its possibilities for natural and economic resources dwindle. For him, an urgent solution is the demarcation of the territory and regularization of possession, in a territory composed of indigenous people, quilombolas and artisanal fishermen.
Elaine Oliveira, national leader of the MST, also present at the event, stressed the urgency of carrying out agrarian reform as a way out of resolving these conflicts. She pointed out that the delay in implementing agrarian reform in the country and in promoting land regularization in traditional territories has led to such serious levels of violence in the countryside.
* We will preserve the identity of this person so as not to subject him to the risk of reprisals.
Source: BdF Bahia
Editing: Alfredo Portugal and Patrícia de Matos