(Harare, March 27, 2015) La Via Campesina International expresses its condemnation of the following acts of criminalisation and persecution of social protest that have taken place very recently:
- The attempted murder of Gene Santos, a communications advisor for the the Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) of Brazil. The incident took place in Tamboril, on the night of March 13th, when Mr. Santos was returning to his home in the settlement of “Monte Alegre”. He was shot at several times by a single person, but was able to escape unharmed.
- A death threat against João Pedro Stedile, who is also a member of the MST as well as a leader of La Via Campesina at the international level. A notice was sent via social media asking for “Stedile alive or dead” and describing him as a leader of the MST and an “enemy of the homeland”. The writer offered a reward of 10,000 reales to whoever responded to his request. In this way, the assassination of the campesino leader is being encouraged with the promise of payment for killing him.
- Daniel Pascual, leader of the Committee of Peasant Unity (MUC) of Guatemala, has been falsely accused of terrorism, incitement to commit a crime, coercion, and crimes against the Constitution. The complaint was made by the rightist organisation the Liga Pro Patria as another effort to silence Mr. Pascual’s voice and to undermine his role as a defender of the human rights of the Indigenous Peoples. On January 4th, 2015, he was physically attacked in the hamlet of San Antonio Las Trojes 1, in the village of Cruz Blanca, San Juan Sacatepéquez. This incident is part of a series of abuses, among which are the imposition of a state of siege, the militarisation of the area, and the arrest of several peasant farmers, four of whom have recently been unjustly sentenced to 40 years in prison.
As an international Peasant and Farmer Movement, we strongly condemn these attacks and threats to which our comrades and representatives have been subjected, and we demand that those responsible be brought to trial. We protest against all attempts to criminalise peasant and farmer struggles in the rural territories. We denounce these acts of violence directed against our movement and against the other organisations and actors with whom we are building a popular peasant and farmer project – a project in support of the earth, food sovereignty, and agrarian reform, with initiatives and policies designed to improve the lives of women and men peasants and farmers in rural areas.
Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope!