Brazil Will Launch Major Offensive to Stop Murders in the Amazon

By Dialogo
June 07, 2011

The Brazilian government announced that it will launch a large-scale military and police offensive in the Amazonian states of Pará, Amazonas, and Rondonia to put an end to the killing of farmers and environmental activists in the region and investigate previous deaths.

“We made an evaluation of the severity of the situation of the homicides committed in the northern region of the country, and we agreed on the necessity of taking immediate measures with extensive integration between the state and federal governments,” Justice Minister José Cardozo indicated.

On Thursday night, President Dilma Rousseff met with the governors of the three Amazonian states, as well as their security ministers, in order to outline the plan, which begins with the identification of the areas most vulnerable to crime.

“By common agreement, the federal government and the governments of the three states are going to launch the ‘Defense of Life Operation,’” the minister specified.

Cardozo revealed that the operation “includes police action, involving the (political) Federal Police, the highway patrol, and the Armed Forces, which will enter following a request by the governors.”

“It’s a significant and meaningful action, with the clear objective of making it possible not only that no new homicides occur, but also to speed up the investigations of what has already happened,” he added.

Last week, four rural workers who were denouncing clandestine deforestation were shot and killed in the Amazonian states of Rondonia and Pará, regions that are among Brazil’s most violent when it comes to agrarian conflicts.

Three of the four activists had received death threats, which they had reported to the local authorities, as happened with U.S. missionary Dorothy Stang, murdered in 2005 for defending landless peasants in Anapu, in the state of Pará.

The murders took place at the time that Congress was debating a new Forest Code that relaxes forest protections, the authorities affirmed.