Page 21 - Respond 2018 Magazine
P. 21


                                                                 The victims
                                                                 Sebastião de Souza, 57
                                                                 Pastor of the Assembly of God Church in Guatá,
                                                                 about 140 km north of Taquarussu. He was one of the
                                                                 squatters of the area subject of dispute, known as Linha
                                                                 (road) 15. Previously in 2014, his home at the site was
                                                                 burned down. He was found with a machete buried in
                                                                 the back of his neck.

                                                                 Fábio dos Santos, 37
                                                                 A father of four and member of de Souza’s congregation,
          House of farmer-squatter and evangelical pastor Sebastião de Souza   dos Santos worked mainly as a bricklayer. Pastor de
          in Taquarussu do Norte, Brazil; his body was found on the floor with a   Souza hired him to clear the land – the day rate for
          machete in the neck (Photo: Fabiano Maisonnave)        labourers is about $17 in the region. He lived in Guatá
                                                                 and had no land.
          “Land regularization in the Amazon is an essential
          requirement for conflict reduction, curtailment of     Ezequias de Oliveira, 26
          deforestation and implementation of more sustainable   A squatter in Taquarussu, de Oliveira’s lot is outside the
          policies in the region,” says an Imazon report published last   disputed area. He was onsite working as a day labourer
          month.                                                 and also belonged to the Assembly of God.

          Under Brazilian law, 80% of any rural property in the   Edison Antunes, 32
          Amazon must be preserved as primary vegetation. Prior   Another squatter who was working in Linha 15 as a day
          authorisation from federal or state environment agencies is   labourer. He was the deacon of the local Assembly of God
          needed to cut any forest. In practice, squatters flout these   and left four children.
          rules with impunity.
                                                                 Aldo Carlini, 50
          Cláudio Gonzaga, a prosecutor in Cotriguaçu, an Amazon   Also working as a day labourer, Carlini had a lot in a
          town not far from Colniza, said politicians and local   neighbouring area.
          merchants were typically the ones to lead and finance land-
          grabbing of these areas, taking advantage of the infamously   Samuel da Cunha, 23
          slow Brazilian judicial system and feeble law enforcement.  A newcomer from the neighbouring state of Rondônia,
                                                                 da Cunha was also working as a day laborer when he was
          The invasion process, described by Gonzaga, includes a   killed. His lot was outside the disputed area.
          topographical survey for land division, illegal logging in
          order to finance the whole process and eventually the   Valmir do Nascimento, 55
          use of cleared land for crops or ranching. By the time the   Found with his hands tied behind his back, do Nascimento
          authorities catch up, tens or hundreds of acres of forest may   was one of the three squatters killed who had a lot in the
          have been destroyed.                                   area under dispute. He left two sons.

          Besides feeding violent conflict, the legal uncertainty is   Izaul dos Santos, 50
          a major impediment in fighting deforestation, according   A squatter in Linha 15, last year dos Santos paid $34,000
          to Evandro Selva, the regional head of Ibama, Brazil’s   for 200 hectares. He was pending trial for murder. His
          environmental protection agency.                       son and daughter-in-law were two of the four people who
                                                                 were in the area during the slaughter and escaped with
          “In most cases, our effectiveness depends on land regulation   their lives.
          agencies,” said Selva, who led a raid on Taquarussu in 2015,
          in a phone interview. One of the squatters who died in the   Francisco da Silva, 56
          slaughter was fined for deforesting 22 hectares.       One of the five squatters who were there as day
                                                                 labourers. In 2015, Ibama (the environmental protection
          “During the inspection, the farmer-squatters argued: ‘How   agency) fined da Silva $36,000 for the illegal deforestation
          can we get a deforestation authorisation if we don’t have the   of 22 hectares, but he never paid it.
          land titles?’”

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