Source Socio Ambiental
At the end of January this year, quilombola leader Evaldo Florentino was murdered by two hooded gunmen in the municipality of Conceição da Barra, in northern Espírito Santo state.
Evaldo was the son of one of the main leaders in the struggle for the demarcation of the quilombola territory between Conceição da Barra and São Mateus, Berto Florentino. Berto Florentino is also one of the exponents of the Quilombola culture in the region, the Ticumbi, which reveals that the region has been inhabited by Quilombola communities for tens of years and reinforces the claim to their traditional lands which still need to be legally demarcated and which are being claimed by landowners in the region.
Evaldo had been subjected to a series of persecutions by authorities in the region and had been imprisoned for several months in 2016, unjustly accused of murder without any evidence. This charge was used to create a false picture of Evaldo but which really just showed the level of persecution to which he was subjected.
Following this persecution, Evaldo and his family were included in the Human Rights Defenders Protection Program (PPDDH) because of the various threats and persecution on the part of the state.
The quilombolas of the region have been fighting for decades to demarcate the traditional Quilombola Territory of Sapê do Norte, facing large landowners such as the forest companies Aracruz Celulose (Fibria), Suzano, Disa and other landowners linked to the sugar and alcohol sector. More than 32 quilombola communities live in a climate of tension and persecution by the police, companies and judiciary.
Attempts at intimidation, persecution, baseless accusations and assassinations are a tool used by these companies to attack the region’s land-fighting movements, such as the quilombolas, indigenous communities and landless farmers. This conflict is caused by the fact that state land, in the north of Espírito Santo, which should be redistributed is being invaded by pulp and sugar cane companies.
The persecution is so great that in 2009, 39 quilombolas were arrested on charges of “theft of wood” by police in an area where the land has been grabbed by a comnpany called Fibria (formerly Aracruz). This action was so absurd and illegal that the state itself acknowledged that the police operation occurred without a warrant or evidence that incriminated the quilombolas and condemned the state of Espírito Santo to pay $ 100,000 in collective moral damages to the community of São Domingos and plus R $ 10,000 in compensation for each prisoner.
It is evident that the murder of the Evaldo is linked to the fight for the land and is being used to intimidate the quilombolas.