Condemnation for killing of Brazilian landless rights leader

By staff writers
January 29, 2013

British and Irish churches' global development agency Christian Aid has condemned the fatal shooting of Brazilian landless rights leader Cicero Guedes on Saturday 26 January 2013.

Mr Guedes, aged 54, a sugar cane cutter, was the leader of the landless people’s movement (MST) and was killed while returning home from a meeting on his bicycle.

Christian Aid’s country manager for Brazil, Mara Luz, said Mr Guedes had worked tirelessly for Brazil's poor.

"Cicero Guedes is one more peasant leader murdered in recent years only because he was defending the distribution of land and resources in one of the most unequal countries in the world," she commented.

"The reality is that living a full life is still difficult for many people in Brazil. This coming Sunday, a special service will be held in memory of Mr Guedes in the cemetery Campos da Paz, which means 'Field of Peace'.

"MST, a partner organisation of Christian Aid, hopes that peace can be a part of the daily life in rural areas of Brazil," said the agency spokeswoman.

The shooting took place near an abandoned sugar plant which MST members have occupied amid a legal battle between the landless and the heirs of its deceased owner.

MST, who had occupied the land for six years before being evicted by police in 2006, launched a second occupation of the same site in November.

The Christian Aid report The Scandal of Inequality in Latin America and the Caribbean outlines the scale of inequality in the country.

It says: "(In Brazil) just three per cent of the population own two-thirds of all arable land. Although there has been progress – the Landless Movement (MST) has resettled more than one million poor people since 1984, while the Quilombolas have gained collective land titles for 185 communities – there is no doubt that the ‘agrarian aristocracy’ is still firmly in place in Brazil. The trend is now moving in the direction of further land concentration and the expansion of a myriad of public and private sector businesses."

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