Since last Friday (10), the Quilombo Tanque de Rodagem, in Matões, Maranhão, has been under attack by armed employees of landowners Eliberto Luiz Stein, owner of Stein Telecom, and Silvano Oliveira, businessmen from Paraná who acquired an area which is within the quilombola territory, where they intend to invest in soy monoculture.
The accusation is made by the residents of the quilombo and by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), which is at the site, providing aid to the quilombolas.
“They’re saying they’re going to kill us, that they’re going to put a bullet, that they’re going to hit us. There are people up there already in despair”, says Luanice Ribeiro, one of the quilombola leaders in the region.
According to the CPT and the quilombolas, Stein is in Matões, personally coordinating the actions of the employees. On Saturday (11), farmers used chains to deforest an area inside the Rodagem Tank – an environmental crime, which revolted the quilombo residents – who decided to close the MA-262 highway, which passes in front of the property (in the end of the article, image gallery with photos of the use of employees using the chains in the area).
With the traffic of cars and tractors impeded by the community, Stein’s employees began to threaten the quilombolas.
“The atmosphere is tense, it’s desperate, it’s the ugliest thing you can imagine. We are being directly threatened by the thugs of Eliberto’s company, there are elderly people and children in between. They are threatening that today… a tragedy will happen here with us. They’re threatening that until 6 pm, they’re going to beat us up, so we can release the highway,” Ribeiro told Brazil in fact.
Tânia Ribeiro, a quilombola who lives at the site, reported in a video sent to Brazil in fact, spoke of the threats.
“We are suffering aggression from the farmer, he says he bought it here and is threatened with death.”
CPT lawyer Rafael Silva, who is in Matões, warns.
“From Friday until now, the thing has taken a proportion that at any moment a tragedy can happen there”.
“They (Eliberto Stein and Silvano Oliveira) acquired this property this year, they had never set foot in it. The community, just for you to have an idea, the administrative process at Incra dates back to 2013. They do not have judicial authorization to enter the community. They are using violence to destroy the quilombola community.”
Employees of the Maranhão Racial Equality Secretariat were prevented by farmers’ employees from accessing the disputed area. Using a car and a truck, they locked the highway (see video at the end of the article).
Around 4:30 pm, this Tuesday (14), the police questioned the farmers’ employees and searched them on the highway. The delegate responsible for the Interior Civil Police Superintendence (SPCI), Guilherme Luiz Campelo dos Santos, informed that the police
“As far as the civil police are concerned, in the interior, as soon as we became aware of the fact, we sent a team to the scene to identify alleged “jagunços” and carry out investigations by the judicial police. The Police for Combating Agrarian Conflicts and the Regional of Timon participate in the follow-up of the case. Even right now, we have a team from the GPE and the Matões Police Station following the movement and carrying out the investigations”, said Santos.
The first quilombolas to occupy the area where the Quilombo Tanque de Rodagem is located arrived in the 1970s. The land is on the edge of the MA-262 highway, where residents have already organized the division of the territory, with houses and plantations to support the community .
Since 2013, the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) has been in the process of recognizing the area as a quilombola territory. However, the last movement in the Rodagem Tank process was in 2017. Without the definitive documentation of ownership, residents are unable to proceed with the regulation of housing nor access credit lines for agricultural production.
O Brazil in fact could not locate Eliberto Luiz Stein and Silvano Oliveira.
Edition: Anelize Moreira