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Brazil: “Massacre of Pinheirinho”, One Year Later

January 22, 2013 marked one year since the violent eviction of the Pinheirinho settlement in the city of São José dos Campos, Brazil. As Global Voices reported back then:

On January 22, the Military Police of São Paulo (PMSP) and the Metropolitan Civil Guard (GCM) of the city of São José dos Campos, in the state of São Paulo, invaded the settlement known as Pinheirinho to comply with an order of repossession issued by the state court. The violent eviction of the community became known as “Massacre do Pinheirinho” (Massacre of Pinherinho) after a demonstration of violence and brutality by the police in the expulsion and intimidation of residents dumped in the midst of a huge legal mess.

"No more runaround, we want a solution". Photo taken during the political act recalling the one year of eviction. Photo by Beatriz Bevilaqua. (Used with permission.)

“No more runaround, we want a solution”. Photo taken during the demonstration marking the one-year anniversary since the eviction. Photo by Beatriz Bevilaqua. (Used with permission.)

A demonstration to commemorate the date took place at the entrance to the grounds of Pinheirinho – now empty – in São José dos Campos. Historian Rogério Beier, participating in the filming of a documentary about the case, commented [pt] on the current situation of the more than 1,500 families that were evicted, “causing much pain and suffering to more than 8,000 people living on the land”:

Passado um ano desde a desocupação, essas pessoas seguem sem uma solução definitiva com relação a moradia adequada e, pior, continuam sofrendo diversos tipos de violências como preconceito e discriminação, desintegração da família, péssimas condições de moradia e dificuldades para encontrar emprego, dentre outras.

[...]

O ato foi muito importante para marcar um ano desde a reintegração de posse do Pinheirinho. O terreno, desde então, continua vazio e as pessoas que ali moravam, seguem desabrigadas. A data não podia passar em branco e a organização do evento está de parabéns por relembrar ao Brasil que a luta do Pinheirinho ainda continua. Também entendemos que é bastante importante saber que os políticos que participaram do ato, se posicionam claramente ao lado dos ex-moradores do Pinheirinho na luta por uma solução definitiva para a moradia dessas mais de 8 mil pessoas. Apesar disso, esperávamos que o ato fosse marcado pela participação dos ex-moradores como personagens principais das atividades que ali se desenrolariam, o que infelizmente não aconteceu. Foi impossível não sair com uma sensação de desapontamento ao constatar que, tal como alguns moradores haviam nos adiantado, o ato do Pinheirinho no Poliesportivo acabou dando muito mais um espaço aos políticos do que aos ex-moradores.

One year on since the eviction, these people still haven't been able to find a final solution with respect to adequate housing and, worse, continue to suffer various types of violence such as prejudice and discrimination, family breakdown, poor housing conditions and difficulties in finding employment, among others.

[...]

The demonstration was very important to mark one year since the repossession of Pinheirinho. The land has since remained empty and the people who lived there still remain homeless. The date could not be allowed to pass by unacknowledged and event's organizers are to be congratulated for reminding us that the struggle of Pinheirinho still continues. We also understand that it is very important to know that politicians who participated in the demonstration, clearly aligning themselves in support of the former residents of Pinheirinho in the fight for a permanent solution for the housing of over 8,000 people. Nevertheless, we expected that the demonstration would see the participation of former residents as central figures of the activities that would unfold there, which unfortunately did not happen. It was impossible not to come away with a feeling of disappointment to find that, as some residents had warned us in advance, the Pinheirinho demonstration at the sports center ended up giving much more space to politicians than to the former residents.

Photo taken during the political act recalling the one year of eviction. Photo by Beatriz Bevilaqua. Used under permission.

Photo taken during the demonstration marking the one-year anniversary of the eviction. Photo by Beatriz Bevilaqua. (Used with permission.)

The COADE – Coletivo de Advogados para a Democracia (Lawyers for Democracy Collective) in its blog described [pt] what has changed in a year:

Um ano se passou e lamentavelmente a violência ainda permanece. Os moradores ainda não tem um teto para morar, ainda estão lutando por justiça e a justiça parece estar mais lenta do que de costume.

Por outro lado, estes cidadãos resistiram e resistem até hoje e não estão sozinhos. Temos o dever de exigir do poder público a devida reparação dos danos morais e patrimoniais causados àquela população.

Moradia é uma necessidade básica de sobrevivência. Trata-se de dignidade humana. É por isso que este Coletivo apoia incondicionalmente a luta das famílias do Pinheirinho.

A year has passed and unfortunately violence still remains. Residents still do not have a roof under which to live, they are still fighting for justice and justice seems to be slower than usual.

On the other hand, these citizens fought back and continue to fight back today and they are not alone. We must demand the government award due compensation for damages and injuries caused to that population.

Housing is a basic need for survival. It is about human dignity. That's why this Collective fully supports the struggle of the families of Pinheirinho.

Photo taken during the political act recalling the one year of eviction. Photo by Beatriz Bevilaqua. Used under permission.

Photo taken during the demonstration marking the one-year anniversary of the eviction. Photo by Beatriz Bevilaqua. (Used with permission.)

Blogger Conceição Oliveira (Maria Frô) commented [pt] on police violence against the population, especially against the elderly Ivo Teles, who later died of the injuries:

O senhor Ivo Teles dos Santos que aparece no vídeo abaixo com seu corpo frágil de  mais de setenta anos e que foi brutalmente espancado pelos PMs durante a invasão da tropa de choque no Pinheirinho e que após internação veio a falecer  é o símbolo da covardia e a violência do Estado contra seus cidadãos.

Militares da tropa de choque que espancaram idosos,  jogaram bombas de gás em mulheres e crianças e são acusados de violência sexual  foram parte do espetáculo grotesco do dia 22 de janeiro de 2012.

Mr. Ivo Teles dos Santos, who appears in the video below, with his frail body more than 70 years old and who was brutally beaten by officers during the invasion of riot police in Pinheirinho and who died after hospitalization, his case is the symbol of the state's cowardice and violence against its citizens.

Military riot police who beat the elderly, threw gas bombs at women and children and are accused of sexual assault were part of the grotesque spectacle on January 22, 2012.

She also posted a YouTube video by user Wilian Cesar showing the Ivo Teles arguing with police and showing the marks of violence he suffered:

The final message of struggle, comes from [pt] the blog of the Rede Extremo Sul (Extreme South Network) that represents the impoverished population and victims of violence from the southernmost parts of São Paulo:

Enquanto esse sofrimento, tão disseminado, não cimentar nossa união, e enquanto ele não for canalizado para o combate desse sistema que nos massacra, a cada ano teremos mais massacres para lembrar e lamentar. Que os lutadores e as lutadoras não demoremos a decidir e a dizer numa só voz: este foi o último! A dor desses massacrados é a nossa dor!

As long as this suffering, which is so widespread, does not unify us, and as long as it is not channeled in order to fight against this system that is killing us, every year we will have more massacres to remember and mourn. Let us hope that those that fight do not tarry to decide and say with one voice: this was the last one! The pain of those massacred is our pain!

Photo taken during the political act recalling the one year of eviction. Photo by Beatriz Bevilaqua. Used under permission.

Photo taken during the demonstration marking the one-year anniversary of the eviction. Photo by Beatriz Bevilaqua. (Used with permission.)

The land where Pinheirinho used to be remains empty. The Lebanese-born speculator Naji Nahas [pt], who owns the land, has not used it for anything. The recently elected mayor of São José dos Campos, Carlinhos Almeida, of the Workers Party – same party to which President Dilma Rousseff belongs – has failed to present a plan for the land or for those evicted by the previous government of the opposition Party of the Brazilian Social Democracy. At the same time, the federal government has also failed to find a solution for 6,000 to 9,000 people who lost everything.

YouTube user Fabiano Amorim posted a documentary which includes interviews with victims of the Pinheirinho eviction:

A documentary titled “Pinheirinho: One year later” is being recorded after a fundraising effort via Catarse, a crowdfunding website.

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