The Movement of Homeless Workers (MTST) of Minas Gerais has denounced the murder of a member of the social movement in the city of Uberlândia. According to information from the MTST, Daniquel Oliveira dos Santos, 41, was shot dead by a military policeman in the early hours of Thursday, 5 March 2020.
Daniquel was the regional coordinator of the MTST in the region and was also the coordinator of the Fidel Castro Occupation. According to the Military Police (PM) they arrived in the area early in the morning and came across three men, one of whom was armed and opened fire on the police. The police opened fire claiming self defence. Two of the men got away but Daniquel was shot in the head and died of his injuries.
The members of the MTST however claim that Daniquel was unarmed and was killed in a deliberate and unprovoked attack prompted by his leadership in the Fidel Castro Occupation.
There is a consistent pattern of violence by land grabbers and illegal miners against peasant communities and indigenous peoples in Minas Gerais and Para states. The United Nations has written to the Brazilian government to raise its concern at the alarming and increasing number of killings of human rights defenders and land rights activists in the region. The government has failed to respond.
President Bolsonaro has repeatedly said that he would not give one more centimeter of land to indigenous or quilombola peoples.
Two proposed pieces of legislation would legitimise land grabs and allow mining on the so far protected lands of indigenous peoples. According to Ayala Ferreira, leader of the Landless Workers’ Movement in Pará State, the current administration does not have any intention to proceed with land reform programmes and with the formal demarcation of indigenous and quilombola territories that would deter incursions.
According to a 2017 report by U.N. rapporteurs Victoria Tauli Corpuz (Rights of Indigenous Peoples), Michel Forst (Human Rights Defenders), John Knox (Environment), and Francisco Eguiguren Praeli (Rapporteur of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IACHR), “Over the last 15 years, Brazil has seen the highest number of killings of environmental and land defenders of any country, up to an average of about one every week. Indigenous peoples are especially at risk.”