Landowner assaults workers and knocks down pregnant woman in an encampment in Maranhão

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

During the reoccupation of the Rio dos Santos estate in Bom Jesus das Selves in Maranhão last Saturday (25), a pregnant woman of six months was knocked down by estate owner and land thief, José Osvaldo Damião. She ended up losing her baby.

An elderly man of 72 years was among other workers assaulted by the landowner and his gunmen.

Fagnea was taken to the municipal hospital in Bom Jesus das Selves where the seriousness of the injuries incurred during the assault caused her to lose her baby. Despite being in a state of shock, she is doing well.

Three days after the incident, workers still have not been able to press charges because local police have ignored their reports. They tried pressing charges in Açailândia municipality, but received the same treatment from police.

On Tuesday afternoon (28), human rights activists organized by the Center for the Defense of Life and Human Rights of Açailândia visited the encampment, collected information about the attacks and demanded that a record of the events be made.

The area

The occupied area is about eight thousand hectares in size and is being claimed by the Terra Legal program, responsible for regularizing land in the Amazon region. The landowner unfairly gained possession of land and now cannot benefit from the program on the grounds that he is already in possession of other areas in the region.

 The National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) of Maranhão had requested a transfer of responsibility for this area to the federal courts in a bid to avoid an eviction of those encamped on the estate.

 The landless workers who occupied the area are from the region and from families who live in risk areas. Together with them are 25 families who came from the city dumps.

The landowner

Known as Zé Osvaldo, this landowner is just one more in a long line of others with a long history of violence against rural workers. Owner of a number of estates in the Southeast of the state, he was accused in the 1990s of being responsible for various crimes.

In December 2005, one of his sons invaded the Califórnia settlement during the MST state meeting and tried to knock down workers with his truck as they walked along the roads.