Eraldo Moreira Luz, 50 years, aka “Pirata”, and Jorge Matías da Silva, 25 years, were murdered around 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, the 13th September of 2017, in the shed where they used to live in the Boa Esperança settlement, located in Santa Clara Farm, in the rural area of Marabá, State of Pará. They were both members of the land rights organization “Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – MST”, while Eraldo “Pirata” was the leader of one of the settlements in the area.
According to one of the witnesses, Raimundo Dantas da Silva, on the day of the event he was close to the victim’s shed around 9:00 a.m. when 2 men on a motorcycle approached him looking for Eraldo “Pirata” but he wasn’t there at the time. Raimundo didn’t give a second thought about the occurrence and left the place. A while later Eraldo and Jorge Matías arrived at the shed to rest and were received by several shots from the 2 men. According to the witness, before fleeing on the motorcycle the attackers shouted that there were other settlers marked for death there.
Another witness, Agenor Mendes Silva, who is a small farmer in the area, heard the shots and when he arrived at the place he found out that Eraldo “Pirata” was already dead and Jorge Matías da Silva was severely hurt. Agenor tried to take Jorge Matías to the hospital but he died on the way. The witness believes the target of the attack was Eraldo “Pirata” because he was the leader of the settlement and had been involved in clashes before, even with other comrades in the movement (MST). Jorge Matías, on the other hand, was, according to the him, a peaceful guy that was never involved in any conflicts and probably was just at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The police started investigating the case, heard some witnesses and even released a sketch of one of the suspects but no one was arrested up to the moment.
There are strong indications the attack was motivated by Land Rights conflicts in the area. Notedly because the murderer of the settlement leader and the words shouted by the attackers before fleeing had the clear purpose of intimidating the almost 500 families which live in the Boa Esperança Settlement area.
Land rights and environmental issues conflicts are a major issue in Brazil. As stated in a report from the Global Witness organization (https://www.globalwitness.org/pt/campaigns/environmental-activists/a-que-pre%C3%A7o/), Brazil topped the 2017 ranking on killings of land rights and environmental issues defenders.