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The Sights and Voices of Dispossession: The Fight for the Land and the Emerging Culture of the MST (The Movement of the Landless Rural Workers of Brazil)


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Studies, statements & references -> Terra: The Photography of Sebastião Salgado 16 resources (Archive edited by Else R P Vieira. Photographs © Sebastião Salgado)

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Sebastião Salgado


The struggle for the land: a parade of grief

See also:

Statements by Intellectuals and Artists - the angel on the left of history
(Poem: expresses the author's indignation at persistent impunity, a year after the massacre of the nineteen sem terra in Eldorado de Carajás

Lyrics - Eldorado dos Carajás

The struggle for the land: a parade of grief

On 17-4-96, 1500 peasants occupied Highway PA-150 near the hamlet of Eldorado dos Carajás, protesting at the government’s delay in settling families on the lands of the Macaxeira plantation, which they had been occupying for several months. In the late afternoon, the commander of the military police of the state of Pará sent troops from two different barracks to the scene; they surrounded the protesters from both sides of the highway, immediately opening fire with rifles and machine guns. They killed nineteen peasants and left fifty-seven others wounded. The forensic pathologist Nelson Massini, a professor at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, sent to the Forensic Medicine Institute of the city of Marabá by the Senate Human Rights Committee, confirmed that at least ten of the victims were summarily executed by bullets in the head and the back of the neck. Judging from the powder burns, the weapons were discharged at extremely close range. Seven other bodies were hacked to pieces by blows from a scythe or large knife. Pará, 1996.

Salgado, Sebastião. Terra: Struggle of the Landless. Preface by José Saramago. Verses by Chico Buarque. Translated by Clifford Landers. London: Phaidon Press, 1998: 118 (photo), 142 (caption). Thanks to Sebastio Salgado for providing free use of his photographs and captions on this web site. For further information about the photographs and captions contact


November 2002

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Compiled by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Thomas Burns.

Eldorado de Carajás, Massacre of
'Carajás is a region located in the southeast of Pará. It got its name from the Carajás hills, where formerly the indigenous people of that name lived; the regional center is the city of Marabá. In the municipality of Paraupebas, a massacre of 19 Sem Terra people took place, perpetrated by the state police and the landowners, on April 17, 1996, during a demonstration on the local highway. In March, 1998, eight of the same policemen were involved in the murder of two more MST leaders of the region’ (Fernandes, Bernardo Mançano e Stedile, João Pedro. Brava gente: a trajetória do MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil. São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 1999, p. 144, n. 13). 

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