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Shady Business as Usual in Brazil, One Year After Murder of US Missionary

"It hasn’t changed very much. The area was reoccupied by squatters, and the people live in terror, under threats, and in precarious conditions." That is the current situation, a year after the death of the US-born missionary, Dorothy Stang, in the region of Anapu, Pará state, according to the coordinator of the Dorothy Stang Committee, Alcidema Coelho.

In an interview, Coelho said that, despite the repercussion of the case in Brazil and abroad, conflicts between workers, squatters, and landowners have not abated.

"The areas around Anapu where Dorothy worked, including the area where she was assassinated, have been retaken by squatters. Following Dorothy’s death, other leaders were also murdered."

In Coelho’s view, the situation continues to get worse. "It is not improving. The violence remains kindled. It is a real powder keg."

According to the coordinator, workers are threatened with eviction from the land by gunmen hired by squatters. "They make threats to get workers to leave the area under court litigation, an area far removed from urban centers."

Because of the distance, the workers live "in fear of losing their lands, their shacks, and their lives. Since their most important leader (Dorothy) was assassinated, they feel vulnerable," Coelho explains.

As for agrarian reform, she said that the situation hasn’t made progress either. "Agrarian reform is still a dream here. There is no agrarian reform."

According to Coelho, the lack of government action is the cause of the deaths.

"That is why the number of people threatened with death and on the death list only gets bigger. There is no other explanation for the impunity, injustice, and rural violence, except the absence of agrarian reform."

Agência Brasil

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