The MST Donates Truckloads of Food for the People of Pinheirinho

Thursday, February 9, 2012

By Vanessa Ramos

It was just after 5:30 am when Francisco Pereira, his hands showing signs of years of hard labor in construction, was getting ready for another day's work when he was surprised by five police officers (MPs). His wife and three children were violently torn from their beds without explanation. The police pushed his daughter, who was a few months pregnant, nearly causing her to fall to the ground. Still Francisco resisted and took on the five PMs. This was how the eviction of Pinheirinho residents took place on January 22 of this year.

Today, families are living in shelters and are in need. According to Chico Alencar, Congressman (PSOL / RJ), household conditions are poor and emergency rental aid, worth $500.00, is insufficient to cover rent of any property in Brazil. "The funny thing is, when FIFA cries, funds quickly appear for stadium construction, but for housing programs, money is more difficult," said the Congressman.

Ten days after the eviction, some residents are still seeking information about relatives who were taken by police and have not been seen since. Family members expect the state department and authorities to investigate these disappearances.

"The São Paulo State government has treated the poor this way for the last 16 years," said Gilmar Mauro, of the MST National Coordination. "We ourselves have been victims of several violent evictions," he added.

According to José Maria, with the PSTU, the incidents in Pinheirinho are outrageous and unlawful. "The Courts ordered an eviction of the area, but a Federal Court reversed that decision and the eviction," he said. The Federal Court has maintained this position twice "and the governor ignored it, the mayor ignored it, the PM commanders ignored it and sent 2,000 armed men to destroy people's homes," he said.

See video of the act

The violence against the people of Pinheirinho shocked Brazil. Last Thursday (2/2) roughly 5,000 people, in solidarity with those families, attended a rally entitled "We Are All Pinheirinho" in São José dos Campos. The MST alone sent 10 busloads of people from settlements across São Paulo state, totaling more than 500 activists in the mobilization of São José dos Campos.

In addition to hundreds of activists, the MST has donated four truckloads of food for the victims. According to Gilmar, three trucks came from other settlements in the state of São Paulo and one carrying organic rice came from a settlement in Rio Grande do Sul.

General Motors officials in São Paulo stopped production for three hours in support of this action. As a sign of solidarity, the Homeless Workers Movement (MTST) occupied the PSDB headquarters in Brasilia on the same day. "The idea is that similar actions take place across the country through the end of this year to protest the violence led by Geraldo Alckmin in Pinheirinho," said José Maria.

Francisco Pereira had lived in Pinheirinho for six years. On the day of the demonstration in downtown São José dos Campos, he and his wife still had marks on their bodies from the police brutality. Since being driven from their homes, Francisco and his wife have not seen their children, who are forced to live away from their parents.

Return of the families

After the rally in São José dos Campos, protesters went on to Pinheirinho. Residents wept to see their homes burned to the ground. "You look down and see dolls, books, and computers destroyed and it disgusts me," declared Luiz Carlos“Mancha” Prates, PSTU.

Now, the protesters hope for President Dilma Rousseff to declare, by decree, the expropriation of the area and the families' return to Pinheirinho.


*Translated: Robert J. Gardner