On July 19, 2016, José Lisboa, known as “Zezinho Lisboa”, was assassinated. Zezinho was one of the squatters on Povoado Baixa Funda, located in Santo Amaro do Maranhão, State of Maranhão.
The crime is related to the struggle of families to get legal recognition and title for the land which for years has been the target of paid gunmen hired by local landowners and known as grileiros. This, threatens the families and limits the exercise of ownership thus preventing them from peacefully cultivating their land.
Land conflicts in Brazil are growing – last year alone, there were 61 murders in the countryside; an average of five murders a month according to data released by the Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT).
The Legal Amazon, which comprises all the states of the northern region plus parts of Maranhão and Mato Grosso, accounted for 79% of all murder cases, 68% of assassination attempts (50), 391 cases of physical assaults, 171 cases of death threats, and 192 people in conflict over land in the region.