[06/22/09] MST Informa #168: Maintain the conviction of Colonel Mario Pantoja

“If we silence ourselves, the stones will cry out” (Pedro Tierra) The Fifth Session of the Superior Court of Justice (STJ) will rule this week on the appeal presented by Colonel Mario Colares Pantoja, one of the commanders of the Massacre at Eldorado dos Carajas, which asks to overturn the verdict by which he was condemned to 228 years in prison. In the session on Tuesday, Minister Laurita will analyze the request made by the Colonel's defense and the verdict may be overturned. On April 17, 1996, 1500 landless workers occupied highway PA150, in the municipality of Eldorado dos Carajas in the state of Pará, to demand the expropriation of an unproductive latifundio in the region. During the protest, the landless were surrounded by more than 100 military police, who opened fire against them with the goal of “opening the road up at any cost”. Six workers were killed at the beginning of the siege carried out by the police and another 13 were executed afterwards, when they already had no way to defend themselves. The result was 19 workers dead, 69 mutilated, and hundreds wounded. Of these, three died months later because of the wounds produced by the brutal violence. These facts were engraved on the memory of the Brazilian people and the people of the whole world as the Massacre of Eldorado dos Carajas. Thirteen years later, none of those responsible have been effectively punished. Now Colonel Pantoja has a new appeal, with the sole absurd argument that he would have nullified the verdict, which is only a legal fiction created to make impunity definitive. Carajás is a sad example of the violence against the rural workers in our country. In 2008, the Pastoral Commission on Land counted 28 killings in the rural areas, which means one dead for every 42 conflicts. The majority of the conflicts over land are in the state of Pará The rise of agribusiness corresponds to the rise in violence and barbarism. While Agrarian Reform remains shamefully at a halt, the Court slowly continues to judge the crimes committed against rural workers. From 1985 until today, more than 1500 people were killed in the countryside. Only 19 of those who ordered the crimes were tried, and none is currently in prison. In Carajás, none of the 155 soldiers who shot at the families was punished. The governor who authorized the police action, Almir Gabriel (PSBD), his Secretary of Public Security, Paulo Sette Câmara, and the commander-general of the Military Police were never indicted. Colonel Pantoja and Major José Maria Oliveira, were convicted as the ones who ordered the crime, but they remain at liberty. We cannot be silent about this absurdity: to struggle for the right to land is a crime punished by shooting, while killing workers is accepted by the court and awarded with freedom. For all these reasons, we call on all to protest, sending a letter to the ministers of the Fifth Session of the Superior Court of Justice and to the reporting minister, request that the conviction of Colonel Mario Pantoja be upheld and that he be punished for his crime. (Send a copy as well to semterra@mst.org.obr with the subject “Campaign”.) CAMPAIGN TO MAINTAIN THE CONVICTION OF COLONEL MARIO PANTOJA, COMMANDER OF THE MASSACRE DE ELDORADO DE CARAJÁS The commander of the massacre will be tried by the Superior Court of Justice Special Appeal n.º 818815 Fifth Session Reporting Minister LAURITA VAZ – gab.laurita.vaz@stj.jus.br Minister NAPOLEÃO MAIA FILHO (pres. da turma) - gab.napoleao.maia@stj.jus.br Minister FELIX FISCHER – gab.felix.fischer@stj.jus.br Minister ARNALDO ESTEVES LIMA – gab.arnaldo.lima@stj.jus.br Minister JORGE MUSSI – gmim@stj.jus.br