Military Police evict land occupation in Brazil
Brazilian Military Police completed the eviction of a long-standing land occupation called Quilombo Campo Grande in Minas Gerais state on Aug. 14, after a struggle of almost three days. Police brought in armored vehicles and fired tear-gas to clear the community from the land, before moving in to destroy homes and crops. Also demolished was the Eduardo Galeano Popular School, where children, youth and adults studied together. The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), whose followers established the squatter community 22 years ago, protested that the mass eviction leaves some 450 families homeless in the midst of a pandemic.
The community, in Campo do Meio municipality, was established on the lands of a bankrupt sugar mill that closed in 1996. The mill owners continued to hold legal title to the land, as the community established a successful coffee-growing cooperative as well as cultivating fruit trees and staple food crops. (People's Dispatch, Brasil de Fato, Jornal a Voz de Araxá, MST)
Brazil's quilombos are lands titled to runaway slave descendants. Long threatened by the paramilitary forces of ranchers and landlords, quilombos have struggled to expand their lands and autonomous rights. There has been a systematic assault on their hard-won rights under President Jair Bolsonaro.