“Announcement of a death foretold in Pará” is the title given to the public statement released by CPT (Comissão Pastoral da Terra) about the death of Ronair José Lima. The President of Associação Terra Nossa had been the target of several threats and one attempt of murder. His killing is, therefore, a sad and foreseen landmark in the bloody history of human rights defenders in Brazil.
São Félix do Xingu is a municipality of the Pará state, as vast as Austria, with the largest concentration of bovine cattle in Brazil. It is a municipality with extensive lands and where a longed-for agrarian reform seems to be far from happening. Various farmers in the area have lost their lives due to their fight for the right to land. Ronair, 41, was one of them.
On February 27, 2016, the rural worker, his wife and his daughter were shot while heading, by motorcycle, to a meeting of the Workers Association in the municipality of São Félix de Xingu. All three of them survived.
The farmer and human rights defender continued to fight for the rights of the rural workers until the the 4th of August 2016, when shots fired by three men in an ambush on a road near the settlement Novo Oeste, proved to be fatal.
Ronair José Lima, was still able to ask for help and receive medical attention, however, his brothe, who accompanied him, was shortly told the most difficult words to accept: “He is gone”.
Ronair was acting in the defence of the right to land of families linked with the Federation of Agriculture Workers (Federação dos Trabalhadores da Agricultura, FETAGRI) which occupy part of the complex Divino Pai Eterno, with approximately 9 thousand hectares that belong to the Union.
The conflict exists because several landowners (‘fazendeiros’) have claimed the land, some of them recurring to violence in the attempt of expelling the farmers settled there. Ronair, land rights defender with political aspirations, was seen by the community of rural workers from the public land complex as an example to follow; someone whose ideals were common to a people and a fight. Leader of the local farmers’ association (Associação Terra Nossa), he was the one gathering with INCRA (National Institute for Colonisation and Agrarian Reform), the CPT and the different entities involved in the land issue in search for an agreement.
Friends, members of the farmers’ community, they all believe that the best way to revenge the death of Ronair is to not give up the fight. In Brazil, in particular, and all around the world, the killing of human rights defenders is a present and persistent reality that should not be ignored.