On April 17, 1996, 21 people were killed in the Massacre of Eldorado de Carajás, in the Province of Pará (northern Brazil), in a military police operation. This day is now officially known as the National Day of Struggle for Land Reform.
Land issues, and particularly acts of violence against landless people and small-scale farmers, are a high priority for those committed to social justice in Brazil. Last week, thousands of landless people and farmers gathered in Brasília to demand that the federal government take responsibility for the commitments it has made regarding land, rural development, educational programs in agricultural settlements, among many other issues.
On April 17, 2012, the Most Rev. Mauricio Andrade, Bishop of Brasília and Primate of Brazil, spoke at a round table event at the National Congress Against Impunity and For Land Reform. The session began with a moment of silence to honor and pay tribute to those who were killed in Eldorado dos Carajás, Pará. During Bishop Andrade’s speech, he emphasized the importance of the presence of the church at events like the day’s commemoration. The church expresses a commitment to life, hope, and transformation. Bishop Andrade highlighted the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil’s solidarity with landless people and small farmers and shared that the Diocese of Pelotas, in the Province of Rio Grande do Sul, has been working with landless people through the Small Farmers Pastoral Service.
The commitment of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil (Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil) to issues of social justice is well known. In 2005, Bishop Andrade and many other Anglicans joined 12,000 people who participated in the Landless March from Goiania to Brasilia (220 km) in protest. At the National Congress, Bishop Andrade explained that one aspect of mission in the Anglican church is to seek to transform unjust structures of society.
In his closing prayer, Bishop Andrade read part of Psalm 85:10-13:
Faithful Love and Loyalty join together,
Saving Justice and Peace embrace.
Loyalty will spring up from the earth,
And Justice will lean down from heaven.
Yahweh will himself give prosperity,
And our soil will yield its harvest.
Justice will walk before him,
Treading out a path.
The commitment of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil and its ecumenical partners to this issue is important. Sixteen years after the massacre of Eldorado de Carajás, the commanders in charge of the operation, who were sentenced to 220 years in prison, remain free.
We continue to pray for the many ministries of the Episcopal Anglican Church of Brazil and give thanks for the faithful and courageous leadership of the Most Rev. Mauricio Andrade.
An article about this event (in Portuguese) is available here.