By Cristiane Sampaio
From Brasil de Fato | Brasília (Brazil)
After the episode in which former members of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) made accusations with no proof about the entity in the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) that investigates the MST in the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, the organization issued a note denying the accusations, criticizing the “fragility of the complaints” and stating that the initiative seeks to “criminalize the movement, attack the federal government and move the social base of Bolsonaro supporters”. At the request of the opposition, the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry heard this Wednesday, August 9, farmers Joviniano José Rodrigues and Noemia José dos Santos, who had been part of the entity’s base in the state of Goiás for about 20 years.
The two accused the movement of, among other things, allegedly diverting resources, converting landless workers’ camps into “captivity” and engaging in physical violence against them. In an interview with Brasil de Fato, the organization denied all the accusations. The leader Gilvan Rodrigues, from the MST organization in the state of Goiás, says that the couple were camped in the place where the Canudos Settlement operates today, in the municipality of Palmeiras, Metropolitan Region of Goiânia, and were thrown out of the unit due to reports of theft linked to Joviniano. The Landless Workers’ Movement points out that the decision was taken by the 329 families that inhabited the place.
“You see, Joviniano was accusing the movement of embezzling money, but they were expelled precisely for embezzling community resources. At the time, there were police reports, there were inquiries by both the Civil Police and the Federal Police, but this did not generate a lawsuit, and the Court 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 on the grounds that the action did not meet the necessary legal requirements. The dispatch took place on October 31, 2001. Gilvan Rodrigues complains about the strategy that has been adopted by the Bolsonarist wing in the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry and claims that the opposition tries to “criminalize the movement and make unfeasible any possibility of agrarian reform and struggle for land in the country”.
“And from then on they have been looking for facts that have no relevance to the agrarian reform process, but are used to create a circus scenario, a war scenario to try to incriminate the movement. But we have seen that this is not having an effect because the cause of the agrarian reform, the MST’s relationship with society is greater than those factoids these deputies try, day after day during the Commission of Inquiry, to raise, but that have no foundation or any real basis”, adds Rodrigues.
The leader’s arguments are in line with what progressive parliamentarians have been saying during the course of the CPI. In the session this Wednesday, August 9th, congresswoman Sâmia Bomfim (Socialism and Freedom Party – state of São Paulo) complained about the lack of materiality in the deponents’ speech. “Again, just like yesterday, a series of accusations were made, with serious conclusions, without presenting any kind of proof, document, anything that officially records what would have happened. And then I ask myself what the deputies propose to do in a CPI, which is a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry, which, in theory, must be serious in investigating and forward questions for judgment based on a real diagnosis”, she provoked.
“But what is the real diagnosis being made here, if there is no document, data or proof? There are only accusations without anything that gives materiality to absolutely none of these accusations. What is the purpose of this? The criminalization of social movements, and this was already clear even before the beginning of the CPI”, continued the deputy. The parliamentarian also mocked the fact that the denunciations made by Joviniano José Rodrigues and Noemia José dos Santos surfaced only 22 years after the period in which the couple integrated the movement’s base.
“I would like to ask that we could have access to the alleged Police Reports, for example, because they are such serious issues, that they were made in the year 2000, and no competent body in this country has ever investigated or punished absolutely anyone. Several governments have passed, five CPIs have already investigated the MST, and this issue was never even addressed or raised? We even went through the Bolsonaro government itself, and he never did anything to find out, to give an answer?”, she asks.
In an official note released in the early evening of this Wednesday, August 9, the Landless Workers’ Movement complained about the non-submission of evidence related to the crimes attributed to the organization. “It was evident how the base of Bolsonaro-supporting deputies uses poor people to attack the struggle for agrarian reform. This time, they rescued an uncertain fact, which occurred more than 20 years ago in the state of Goiás, to justify the discourse of criminalization against the MST. Thus, they launch a series of statements, imply crimes, involve names of militants, indicate supposed sequels due to violent practices, but at no time do they present any inquiry, criminal process, condemnation or medical report attesting sequels arising from alleged violent practices, despite the gravity of the alleged crimes.”
The entity also says that there is no landless militant who has been convicted of the facts evoked by the couple and points out that this “evidences the fragility of the accusations”. The MST also complains about the lack of proportionality in the progress of the work of the CPI, which has a Bolsonarist majority and for this reason has given priority, in recent months, to voting on opposition requests. In mid-July, Brasil de Fato reported a survey showing that 60 of the 70 requests approved by the collegiate so far were all from the opposition.
“So far, only one audience has been held with guests appointed by the governing base. It is not possible to give credibility to an inquiry that hears only one side. Bolsonarist deputies distort the statements of deponents, induce answers, all with the intention of legitimizing their attacks. In a universe of almost 2 million people settled by the agrarian reform, they used, until now, seven people to try to support their speeches against the social movements”, adds the note.
Finally, the document accuses the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry of not looking into the real situation of the conflicts that mark the rural areas in Brazil. “The lack of seriousness of the deputies who support Bolsonaro, who are not concerned with discussing agrarian reform in depth and the real problems of the countryside – slave labor, land grabbing, deforestation, fires – is leading this CPI to its end. It could be an important space for debate on a topic that is relevant to society, but the Bolsonarist criminalization rage prevents any kind of serious debate from happening.”
Edited by: Rodrigo Chagas e Nadini Lopes
Translated by: Lucas Peresin