The news that come form the region of Santa Cruz do Sul/RS, Brazil are tragic and it is with sadness that the Small Farmers Movement (Movimento de Pequenos Agricultores – MPA) reiterates the denunciations that it does against the practices of the tobacco industries.
The issue at stake that we are going to face through all the proper judicial instances happened at the municipality of Vale do Sol, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul. A 61 years old tobacco grower woman, who had been integrated to the same industry, Alliance One, for about 25 years, committed suicide while her property was being taken by police officers, a court officer and employers of the multinational corporation. They were there to take away her tobacco under the allegiance of “breaking the contract”.
Clearly shocked and begging for the officers to stop with the arrest, including the fact that she was saying that she was going to kill herself, she was not heard by the court officer and the others who were following the court order. Nothing was done to stop her. Even after her death, by hanging herself, was verified the operation didn’t stop. On the contrary, a solicitation was done for more employers from Alliance One to come and finish the loading of the tobacco as fast as possible. This fact is a clear evidence of how the tobacco industries do not value human life. The followers of the judicial order continued serving the interests of the multinational corporation even before a tobacco grower hung by her neck, contributing to the further desperation of the family and local community.
The MPA is against any form of arrest, under any circumstances. We understand that the tobacco industries, with all their economic power, have other means to assure the receiving of their credits. To appeal to police force is offensive and shaming for the farmers, even further in this case where the woman that committed suicide had no accumulated debt with Alliance One.
Documents held by MPA prove that she had contracted a loan, but she was not late in paying it back. She always honored her commitments with the multinational corporation.
Furthermore, the farmer was not refusing to give the tobacco. Last December she indeed gave her share of production to the industry and received a whole amount for the tobacco sold, precisely because she had no debts.
It is a case of an arbitrary practice, in which the industries frequently make a judicial solicitation, when they say the farmers might not repay their loan. They use lies and inducing the Judicial Power to error, like in this case of one more fatal victim. The tobacco pawn, with guarantees of financing by the tobacco industries, is in the contracts, which are illegal and “devouring”. The contracts are done by adhesion and full of “bad faith”, without any negotiation with the tobacco growers, they serve more as a kind of regiment for the “integrated system”. The tobacco growers sign these documents in good faith and without clear knowledge of the clauses, including promissory and blank documents, which are used against them afterwards. It is to obey their rules or to be prevented from the activity of growing tobacco.
The objective of MPA is to further the debate on the contracts of buying and selling tobacco in order to have a deeper discussion about the rural integrated system. It is a true modern servitude that consumes not only the work force of entire families, but also the lives of small farmers.
Santa Cruz do Sul/RS, February 07, 2007.
Movimento de Pequenos Agricultores MPA
Contact: Wilson Rabuske, regional coordinator of MPA:
+ 55 (51) 9718 1526 or +55 (51) 3117 4809.
MOVIMENTO DOS PEQUENOS AGRICULTORES – MPA
SECRETARIA ESTADUAL: AV.FARRAPOS, Nº 88, BAIRRO FLORESTA
PORTO ALEGRE/RS – CEP: 90220-000
FONE/FAX: (51) 3224 2257 – E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org