squatters protest police massacre in Brazil FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 17 Apr 1998 16:37:27 -0700 (PDT)


http://search.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/WAPO/19980417/V000155-041798-idx.htm=
l


BRAZILIANS PROTEST POLICE MASSACRE


By Michael Astor
Associated Press Writer
=46riday, April 17, 1998; 6:41 p.m. EDT

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) -- Tens of thousands of landless farm workers
and their supporters protested across Brazil on Friday, demanding trials
for police who killed 19 peasants two years ago.

The rallies in 23 cities were peaceful except in Sao Paulo, where
protesters threw rocks and clashed with police, who responded with tear
gas. There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests.

In most cities, landless peasants, union members and students rallied
before 19 coffins symbolizing those killed on April 17, 1996, when police
opened fire on landless workers demonstrating in the Amazon state of Para.

The coffins were draped in the red flags of the Landless Rural Workers
Movement, which gained national attention organizing squatter invasions of
uncultivated lands to pressure the government to speed up an agrarian
reform program.

``We are demanding the government put those responsible for the massacre in
jail,'' said movement spokesman Gilberto Portes.

Most of the 153 police officers charged in the killing in Eldorado dos
Carajas have remained on active duty with no trial dates set.

Secretary of Human Rights Jose Gregori defended the government and said he
hoped the officers could be tried by the end of the year.

In Eldorado dos Carajas, peasants held a memorial Mass at the site of the
massacre. They tied up traffic in Recife, chanted slogans in Brasilia, and
marched through the city center in Rio.

``We're landless and homeless. They only know how to kill us and the
government does nothing,'' said a protester in Rio, who would only identify
herself as Margarita.

Brazil has one of Latin America's most concentrated systems of land tenure,
with the wealthiest 20 percent of Brazilians controlling nearly 90 percent
of the land.

The imbalance has been a continuing source of friction, with 14 people
killed in land-related violence so far this year, human rights groups said.

                                              =A9 Copyright 1998 The
Associated Pres

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