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  • Inauguration of a health center at the Quilombo Campo Grande camp, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, July 8, 2019.

    Inauguration of a health center at the Quilombo Campo Grande camp, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil, July 8, 2019. | Photo: Twitter / @MST_Oficial

Published 11 July 2019

450 landless families could be evicted from a camp built on the lands of a company that broke in 1994.

The Brazilian Minas Gerais Justice Court at Belo Horizonte is processing Thursday a lawsuit filed by the Caia company which seeks to expel 450 farmer families living in Quilombo Campo Grande (QCG) camp, which is located in the Campo do Meio municipality, state of Minas Gerais.

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Through a request for emergency eviction, those families were threatened just after the 2018 elections in which the far-right former capitan Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil. A panel of judges is now expected to decide whether they can continue to grow coffee on the lands.

"To evict the Quilombo Campo Grande families means destroying about 2 million square feet of coffee crops, expelling over 2,000 people from their homes, demolishing 418 houses, ending up with 70 micro agroindustries and uprooting more than 100 thousand trees," engineer George Armando da Silva told local media.

The QCG camp was built by the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST), which who helped those who had worked as rural wage earners for Ariadnopolis, an old hacienda managed by the company Capia, which went bankrupt without paying wages to its workers.

In the lawsuit files, Capia argues that if the land is returned to its owners, they will make investments to increase its productivity. If this happens the beneficiary will be Joao Faria, a capitalist who was the largest coffee producer in Brazil. Currently, however, his business ventures are losing millions.

"It is Joao Faria, 'The Landlord'. How could a bankruptcy bail another?" Tuira Rodrigues, an MST leader said, explaining that the former Brazilian “coffee king” and his business partners are "an association of corrupt persons working to extort the State."

The Quilombo Campo Grande camp eviction to be tried at the Justice Court of Minas Gerais, in Belo Horizonte. The eviction request to 450 families.

Since Capia broke in 1994, about 140 of its former workers and their descendants have been cultivating the Quilombo Campo Grande as a way to earn some income. "Besides cultivating organic coffee, the QCG camp has 1,100 hectares of corn, beans, cassava, peanuts, medicinal herbs, fruits and vegetables," Brazil de Fato, reported.

Quilombo is an African word that Brazilians used in colonial times to refer to a farming community organized by fugitive slaves, which was usually located in the jungles outside the reach of authorities. It also means "war camp" due to an endless history of attacks to the agricultural workers.

"In 1998, 2005, 2007 and 2009, the Landless people went through the most violent evictions at the site; however, they returned and, every time the state and the landlords acted, the movement strengthened," the MST recalled.

Within the perimeter of the old Capia company, there are now 10 camps in hands of landless workers, namely, Zero Hunger, Resistance, Betinho, Girassol, Rosa Luxemburgo, Tiradentes, Sidney Dias and Sister Doroty 1, 2 and 3.

Violence against the Brazilian rural poor, however, did not stay in the past. On the eve of the last elections, a MST camp was burned down by Bolsonaro supporters in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul.​​​​​​​

 
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