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Letter on Violence Against Brazilian Peasants


Most Reverend Raymundo Damasceno Assis
Auxiliary Bishop of Brasilia
General Secretary
National Conference of the Bishops of Brazil
Caixa Postal 02067
Brasilia 70259-970

April 23, 1996

Dear Bishop Assis,

I write to thank you for sending to the U.S Catholic Conference the recent courageous statement issued by the bishops of Brazil at their 34th General Assembly concerning the brutal massacre of landless workers in the State of Para.

The tragic events which took place last week near the town of Eldorado do Carajas in Para, when the police reportedly "lost control" and fired into crowds of landless workers, members of the Sem-Terra, the Landless Movement, killing over twenty and wounding some fifty people, including a 3-year-old child, were also reported, if only briefly, in our own national press. According to news reports, President Cardoso referred to these killings as a throwback to the "Brazil of the past."

It is because we in this country have such strong recollections of, and profound admiration for, the clear and prophetic stance taken by the bishops of Brazil during those troubling years, that I write today to express the support and solidarity of this Conference with our brother bishops of the Conferencia Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil, and all the people of Brazil who struggle and yearn for justice.

As Chairman of the USCC Committee on International Policy, I applaud the forthright expression of your Conference in offering your solidarity with all the affected families, and in renewing your denunciation of all violence, "especially that coming from those sworn to protect life and preserve social order."

In calling for the immediate investigation of the killings and a "rigorous determination of the guilty, so that impunity can no longer continue claiming innocent victims," you also repeated your call for "an immediate and effective Land Reform, joined to an adequate agricultural policy, the postponement of which the nation can no longer tolerate."

We join you in the prayerful hope that this sad episode will motivate all who want peace to pursue the peace that is the fruit of justice, especially for the millions of displaced rural workers seeking only the right to work the land and raise their families with dignity.

With expressions of best wishes and assurances of prayer, I am

Fraternally yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Daniel P. Reilly
Bishop of Worcester
Chairman, USCC Committee on International Policy


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