Saturday, December 4, 2004

According to AgĂȘncia Estado, members of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) are accused of beating to death Paulo Brizola Nunes. Mr. Nunes, 51 years old, was an employee of the Noroeste Farm in Cabixi, 820 km (510 miles) away from the regional capital of Porto Velho, Rondonia. The farm was considered at risk of invasion due to its proximity to a MST encampment.

Nunes and another employee of Noroeste Farm known as “Coco” were on a motorcycle when they were allegedly attacked. MST members allegedly extended barbed wire across the road to down the two men, who were then pummelled with axes and sticks. Coco escaped to a Cabixi police station but Nunes was rendered unconscious and did not survive the assault.

MST is a large MarxistMaoist inspired movement of agricultural workers in Brazil, officially founded in 1984. The movement claims to pursue equitable redistribution of Brazilian farmland. In 2003 there were 632 MST camps in Brazil, containing 116,382 families. According to a recent report on labor standards in Brazil, conditions for laborers are poor. Currently, MST receives financial help from the Brazilian government and donations from international organizations. The movement also receives funds by selling videos of their invasions and other products like books, flags and caps.

MST’s most visible tactic has been their armed occupation of mostly privately-held plantations and landholdings. However, some Brazilians have protested MST’s use of violence. Many farms hire gunfighters to protect their properties from invasions as MST is known to permanently evict farmholders. MST claims they use arms only to defend themselves from the gunfighters.