In the late afternoon of January 23, 2016, Valdiro Chagas de Moura, also known as Galo Cego, 35, was brutally murdered in Sector 5, in Jaru – Rondônia. Enilson Ribeiro dos Santos was murdered at the same time, .
Valdiro who was married and had a daughter was leader of the Paulo Justino Settlement and a member of the League of Poor Peasants. His death was allegedly ordered by the owner of the Santo Antonio farm where the settlement is located. The group is trying to claim legal title to the land, as part of the agrarian reform programme which aims to provide land to landless families in the area.
According to witnesses, the killings were carried out by two armed men on a motor bike. Valdiro and Enilson were also travelling on a motorcycle when the two men came and first shot Valdiro. Enilson tried to run off down Rio Grande do Sul Street, but was pursued and shot. Both victims were hit with stones after falling to the ground .
In March 2017, Marcelo Vicente Celestino and Gilson Oliveira dos Santos were arrested for committing another murder and, according to evidence presented in that trial, they were also responsible for the murders of Valdiro and Enilson.
The witness who gave evidence in the trial claimed to have seen selfie photographs of the killers standing beside the bodies of their victims. The police have not, so far, been able to recover these photographs which would have served as conclusive evidence in the trial.
According to the League of Poor Peasants the conflict in the region intensified in November 2015, when peasants from the Justino Settlement were beaten and evicted by eight heavily armed gunmen. Continued threats and attacks have occurred, and the peasants have reported that the man who claims ownership of the Santo Antonio farm has threatened several community leaders and has always declared that he will not give up the farm.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been notified of the murder of at least six human rights defenders between January and February 2016 in the three Brazilian states of Rondônia, Maranhão and Alagoas.