There were more than a hundred actions across the world to mark the anniversary of the massacre of Eldorado de Carajás – see Via Campesina website and the information kit available there.
The action in Melbourne was organised by LASNET (Latin American Solidarity Network) with Friends of the Earth and support from the Melbourne Social Forum.
From the callout:
Why April 17?
The massacre of Eldorado de Carajás
Because they had been evicted from their land more than two years earlier and because all their attempts to get the right to settle down on an unproductive land had failed, around 1,500 landless peasants and their families, members of MST, the Brazil’s Landless Peasants Movement, decided to march to the state capital of Pará, to present their demands.
The march stopped on the highway at Eldorado de Carajás, as pregnant women and children were tired and needed to rest.
At about 4pm on 17 April 1996, 68 military police from the Paraupebas Platoon arrived and at 4.30pm 87 police arrived from the other direction of Marabá. The peasants were then caught between two platoons of police. After firing tear-gas, the police raised their machine guns to body level and began firing into the crowd. The crowd dispersed as people began to realise they were being shot at with live ammunition.
The first to fall and die was Amâncio Dos Santos Silva, known as “Surdo-Mudo” (“deaf-mute”). Unable to hear the shots, he took longer than the others to understand what was happening.
In total, 19 peasants were killed, 69 were severely injured. Among the victims, at least 10 of the peasants were extrajudicially executed after they had been overpowered. Others, although killed from a distance, were shot in the head or thorax.
Apart from the opening address, which took the form of an account of the massacre and of the ongoing struggles of peasants and Indigenous peoples around the world, the action took the form of an open mic; extracts from the various speeches can be found in the accompanying video, although the sound is regrettably poor. Part of the video is in Spanish, as was appropriate.
It was only a small gathering, but la lucha continúa …