Appeal from Pinheirinho
January 30, 2012 Leave a comment
Pinheirinho is an urban settlement on abandoned land on the impoverished outskirts of São José dos Campos – SãoPaulo, Home to over 2,000 landless families since 2004; residents have built houses, churches and schools on the land and the settlement has grown to become the largest of its kind in the country.
In the early hours of the 22nd of January, the Military Police attempted a forcible eviction of Pinheirinho in an enormous operation that used tanks, helicopters, tear gas, live rounds, rubber bullets, and more than 2,000 men from 33 different municipalities.
The operation went ahead despite a ruling from the Federal Court that the operation should be immediately cancelled. Judge Rodrigo Capez from the São Paulo State Judicial Authority personally accompanied the police operation, and in full knowledge of the federal ruling directed the commander to proceed regardless.
In defence of what has become their home for the last eight years, the residents of Pinheirinho have constructed barricades and makeshift shields to defend themselves and their community from the eviction. The sheer scale and violence of the police operation has sparked a wave of protests across the country in support.
Early reports suggest that at least seven people have died and many more have wounded in clashes with the police.
Despite Brazil’s booming economy, the nation still suffers from a crippling housing deficit; recent government figures put the shanty town population at 11.5 million compared with 4.5 million 20 years ago. Yet, the State Government is still prepared to pursue forcible repossession of abandoned land belonging to a bankrupt company that remained empty for decades prior to its occupation in 2004.
This will not be the first violent mass-eviction in Brazil’s recent history. In April 1996, 22 landless workers lost their lives in Eldorado de Carajas and in 2005 dozens died in clashes with the Military Police during an eviction in Goiânia.
We, the undersigned, reject the unlawful eviction of the residents of Pinheirinho and call upon the federal government to immediately intervene, to prevent any further police brutality and loss of life.
We unreservedly support the right of the residents of Pinheirinho to remain on their land and condemn any further attempts to forcibly remove the residents from what has become their home and community over the last eight years.