An absurd situation is occurring in Rio Grande do Sul in which the state, instead of defending the interests of society, places all its institutions, especially the public security forces, at the service of big capital. Along these lines, they want to transform a social question into a common crime.
The protest by the women of La Via Campesina on March 8 had as a goal to denounce to the world the environmental and social crimes of the corporations such as Aracruz that promote the “green desert”. They acted in defense of life, of rural development based on small farming, of agrarian reform, of preservation of biodiversity and toward the building of food sovereignty. The women’s action opened up a more critical debate about agribusiness in Brazilian society and in the world. Why do the corporations and the media sell an image that big businesses create a lot of jobs? Aracruz Cellulose creates only one job for each 185 hectares that are planted with eucalyptus, while small farms create at least one job per hectare.
Strangely, instead of concerning themselves with investigating the corporations, which (with financial support from governments) are causing environmental destruction, unemployment, and exodus from rural areas, among other crimes, the state of Rio Grande do Sul rushes to find a guilty party for the action against the “green desert”.
The arbitrary actions of Police Chief Rudimar de Freitas of Camaquã, accompanied by six policemen, in the house belonging to the Association of Rural Women Workers in Passo Fundo shows that the goal of the police investigations is not to clarify the facts but rather to incriminate the leaders and in this way deny the legitimacy of the collective struggle carried out by more than two thousand women against the “green desert”.
The police arrived around 2:00 p.m. on March 22 with firearms in hand, broke down the door, invaded the Association space, and took seven women and a child who were there and forced them into the kitchen. Being questioned very forcefully, the women did not understand what was happening since the police had not identified themselves and had not shown any search warrant. Only later did they show a search warrant signed by Judge DR. SEBASTIÃO FRANCISCO DA ROSA MARINHO.
The police acted in such an arbitrary fashion that the women only had permission to contact a lawyer one hour and 20 minutes after the invasion. The police did not limit their search to the association office but instead went through the whole house (kitchen, service area, bedrooms, the women’s bags), throwing everything on the ground. They took the CPUs of the computers, CDs, diskettes, bus tickets, money, checkbooks, all the documents of the Association, folders with the projects and accounts, notebooks, notes, and symbols of the Association. The police did not make a report about what they appropriated.
In addition, the police invaded, without any legal warrant, the headquarters of the National Association of Rural Women, which operates on the lower floor of the State Association with an entry on anther street. In the national headquarters the police humiliated a staff person and a woman who was there, burglarized the desk drawers, and took money, bus tickets, CPUs, diskettes and CDs. And this material was taken by the police without any judicial order.
The police chief demanded that all the women present themselves to testify that same afternoon, requiring them to sign the summons and forcing them to testify without the presence of a lawyer. Only when the lawyer arrived were the women allowed to go to the bathroom and began to be treated as human beings. The attitude of the police chief and the policemen disrespected not only the human rights and also revealed the machismo of the institution because only with a masculine presence representing them were the women finally respected.
We reaffirm the struggle for human rights, especially for women workers who are being attacked for defending life, biodiversity, and the food sovereignty of the Brazilian people.
La Via Campesina, Brazil