We need to talk about the murders of quilombola leaders in Brazil. It was from this initial reflection, and with an image of Mother Bernadete, a quilombola leader murdered with 12 shots this year, that artist Mano Brown and journalist Semayat Oliveira presented the live episode of ‘Mano a Mano’, this Saturday night (4), at the Spotify Podcast Festival, at Instituto Tomie Ohtake. A WHIM followed behind the scenes of the event exclusively.
And look, it seems like a complex issue, but it’s easy to understand: when we talk about quilombos in Brazil, we need to understand that these are regional communities present in most states of the federation. The problem is that in the last decade many leaders have been assassinated.
So it is. In this sense, it is necessary to understand what public actions and policies are planned by the Brazilian government so that cases like this do not happen again, reflected Brown and Semayat, directly at the stage of the Spotify event.
Since 2013, at least 30 quilombola leaders were murdered in Brazil, according to a survey by the National Coordination of Articulation of Black Rural Quilombola Communities (Conaq), released in August this year. During this period, the states with the highest number of murders were: Bahia (11), Maranhão (8) and Pará (4). There are also cases registered in Pernambuco, Paraíba, Minas Gerais and Alagoas.
Emblematic quilombola leader of the quilombolas and ialorixá Bernadete Pacifico, 72 years old, or, as she was known as ‘Mother Bernadete’, died this year, from 12 gunshots in her home.
The matriarch of the Pitanga dos Palmares quilombo, located in Simões Filho (BA), and former secretary of Policies for the Promotion of Racial Equality of Simões Filho, spent her life fighting for the rights of quilombolas. Mother Bernadete’s death occurred 6 years after the death of her son Fábio Gabriel Pacifico dos Santos, known as ‘Binho do Quilombo’, who was also shot to death.
Jurandir Pacifico, son of Mother Bernadete, participated in the chat with Brown this Saturday (4) and said that he only travels with an armed escort to places. Jurandir also refuted the view that his mother’s murders were men involved in drug trafficking. So far, three suspects have been arrested.
“I know I’m next,” said Mother Bernadette’s son, from the stage at the Tomie Ohtake Institute. Jurandir believes that the murders of his mother, brother and many other quilombola leaders were motivated by the interests of hidden capital groups. “Land has value. And they know it,” he says.
People are unaware of the history of Brazil. How many people here studied about quilombos at school?Mbaye, recording Mano a Mano
Selma Dealdina Mbaye, quilombola from the national coordination of Conaq, reflects that only the struggle of the quilombolas, combined with the entire Brazilian population, can ensure the future of the quilombolas: “People are unaware of the history of Brazil. How many people here studied about quilombos at school?” asked Mbaye, in the auditorium with around 500 people who were watching the recording of Mano a Mano.
Brazilian government actions
The Minister of Human Rights, Silvio Almeida, participated in the second block of the recording of the Mano a Mano podcast episode, and said that only with agrarian reform will Brazil be able to face hate crimes against quilombola leaders and also human rights defenders – like the murder of Marielle Franco, in 2018.
Agrarian reform aims to redistribute land to those who have no right to it. In Brazil, it is regulated by No. 8,629, dated February 25, 1993. The titling of properties that do not fulfill a social function is carried out by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform, better known as INCRA. Quilombos and landless movements demand the importance of complying with this policy throughout the national territory.
Furthermore, the sale of land via titling is not permitted and may be considered a crime.
Almeida said that he will announce the reformulation of the Human Rights Defenders Protection Program (PPDH) later this year. The program was born in 2019 from an agreement between the Union and States. Mother Bernadette herself was included in this program, but the management of the program in the state where she lived failed to protect her, admits Almeida.
“We want this to be the best protection program in the world”, said the Minister to Mano Brown.
The Spotify event featured live episodes and activations of the podcasts we love listening to most on the platform. The recordings we are following will be released later this week.
You can see, hear and read everything we covered from that day on our social media and also on the CH website.