Opinion: A Farce, Attempted Massacre, and Excuse – On the Struggle of the Peasants in Brazil

By Ed Dalton

Cracked and calloused hands are the credentials of the worker and peasant, a biography telling all the subtle details of a life spent toiling for sustenance. These noble hands clutched small bags, containing only a fraction of the meager possessions of the great peasants of Camp Tiago dos Santos as they were forced by gun thugs, military police, and helicopters onto trucks, evicted from the land which gives them life.

The old decaying Brazilian state gives the excuse that two military policemen, one retired, had been killed, and the bourgeois sensationalist media wasted no time in blaming the League of Poor Peasants (LCP) for the death of these two crooked cops. The story they scribble across their papers has all the finesse and pleasantness of diarrhea. They portray these two corpses as “good men” and consistently call the landless peasantry “bandits.” Their argument is a farce; the retired policeman was “fishing” miles away from Camp Tiago dos Santos, in an area infamous for a gang war between rival criminal groups, a fact that is well known to the military police which the first officer belonged to. In fact, the military police in this area have a long and sordid history of taking bribes and working closely with these assorted gangsters. It is not going out on a limb to suggest that what took place was not “a good man” on a simple and wholesome “fishing trip.”

The second, active MP was claimed to have been killed when he went to retrieve the body of his colleague. It should raise some skepticism, that an active police unit would suffer another casualty when they knew the area, and only days later would muster maximum forces to terrorize Camp Tiago. It is fruitless when the Old State is expert at covering the evidence to speculate on what they were really doing. What is clear, is that they were using this, whatever shady situation it was, to blame those with next to nothing.

Camp Tiago dos Santos, like many other projects led by the LCP, was a beacon of hope for the poorest people of Brazil, a rich country with a very poor population. The old life of isolation and humiliation was being forced out, in favor of a new one, where the peasants had hard earned dignity, pride in their families and the land they work, in their communal kitchens, popular health committees and democratic ways of living.

Children hold signs reading “LCP” and “Prohibited to enter without a mask”

The Coronavirus pandemic has hit Brazil hard, and the Old State has shown, like its masters in the US state, how not to handle the pandemic—by handling it in the worst way possible. The peasants on the other hand, many of whom lack modern amenities and live in handmade shacks without running water or plumbing, had set a much better example. Early on in the pandemic, the peasantry had formed its health committees, made masks and practiced good precautions against the spread of the virus.

The reactionary Old State cannot tolerate anything new, and hates the people and would rather them perish. Like the anti-masking crowd of reactionaries and police in the US, the military police in Brazil removed the masks of the people and crowded them all together in close confinement, helping the virus spread among the people that they had just robbed, terrorized, tortured and assaulted. They were twisting the knife.

The day before the mass eviction of 600 families, numbering more than 2,400 men, women, and children, the MP’s were reported to have been flying over the camp dropping shell casings into it. This can only be for one reason; they aimed to frame the peasants. Like police in the US, who drop a gun on the body of a Black man they just slaughtered in cold blood, the MP’s were covering their tracks, this time preemptively.

They blockaded the camp for days, denying children and babies milk and all other necessary items the community of thousands required to survive. They would fire shots at anyone moving in the camp and kept the people in a state of anxiety and terror. When entering the camp the MP’s began their wanton assault, firing at people, tear gassing and pepper spraying the very same children and babies whom they had denied milk. Monsters is the only appropriate word to label such filth.

The peasants for their part kept their resolve and morale. Without the ability to prepare, or survive a siege, their calloused and heroic hands not only clutched the portion of their possessions they were allowed to take, they also clutched something more vital to life than belongings, the bright red flag of the workers and peasants, every inch dyed the deepest red by the blood of the people, who throughout history have risen to collect on the debts of our dead. A beautiful flag, worthy of the struggle, first flown from merchant ships halted by sailors who mutinied, like the word “strike” which derived from using a blade to slash the sails, halting the ships, the red flag, a signal to the other sailors, would live on well beyond their decks. It would rise high in the Paris Commune, also crushed by reaction and drowned in blood that made our glorious new flag even redder. It would rise again in the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, and again higher and higher in the Chinese Revolution and the Cultural Revolution led by the great Chairman Mao.

Even as the capitalist world proclaimed the death of socialism with the restoration of capitalism in the two great socialist states in the 1980’s, this glorious new flag was raised from the summits of the Andes, again by noble peasants with calloused hands, led by the Communist Party of Peru, who still fight to this day. That flag is aloft in the rainforests of Brazil, it is aloft in our hearts. No military assault can lower it, and as the great peasants of Camp Tiago were forced out, their red flags were raised, not lowered. Their calloused hands were made for raising red flags!

Tribune of the People has called on its supporters to educate one another and the people on the rapidly developing peasant struggles in Brazil and to draw humble courage from their experience, to stand in unflinching solidarity with them. The best way to show solidarity is by grasping the red flag and never lowering it.





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