Within six years of one another, Maria Bernadete Pacífico, 72, and Flávio Gabriel Pacífico, 36, mom and son, had been killed within the Pitanga dos Palmares quilombo.They had been group leaders and defended their ancestral territory, house to about 300 households, lots of them farmers.The quilombo is inside an Environmental Protection Area (APA), however it’s grappling with deforestation and actual property hypothesis, and it’s surrounded by industries, a jail and a landfill.Jurandir Wellington Pacífico, the remaining son of Maria Bernadete who’s in hiding together with his household out of concern for his life, speaks to Mongabay concerning the threats the group faces and what has occurred since his mom’s loss of life.
SÃO PAULO — On Aug. 17, Maria Bernadete Pacífico, a 72-year-old Quilombola chief in Brazil, was brutally killed when two males carrying helmets entered her house and unloaded greater than a dozen bullets in her course.
A revered title in social actions throughout the nation, she headed the Pitanga dos Palmares quilombo in Bahia state, an environmental safety space the place the Quilombola group — Afro-Brazilian descendants of escaped slaves — reside. Bernadete and her son, Flávio Gabriel Pacífico, additionally killed six years in the past, wished their group, the land of their ancestors, to be titled. They each spoke of the loss of life threats they obtained within the course of.
The delay in Brazil’s land regularization course of has contributed to the rise of conflicts within the Quilombola communities, which has resulted within the killings of a minimum of 30 leaders within the final 10 years, in line with the National Coordination for Articulation of Rural Black Quilombola Communities (CONAQ).
The federal Constitution ensures the descendants of quilombos the precise to personal their lands. However, in line with the 2022 Population Census, which recognized this group for the primary time in historical past, solely about 4.3% of the Quilombola inhabitants (1,327,802 inhabitants) lives in territories already titled.
Jurandir Wellington Pacífico, Bernadete’s remaining second son, who used to draft the initiatives idealized by her mom for the quilombo, has now taken his complete household to a secret location. He tells Mongabay that out of concern for him and his household’s life, they may keep away from leaving their hideout till the federal authorities reply to their safety issues and supply them a everlasting resolution.
Flávio Gabriel and Bernadete Pacífico, leaders of the Pitanga dos Palmares quilombo, had been killed in 2017 and 2023. Private and public financial pursuits have all the time surrounded the ancestral land. Image courtesy of Jurandir Pacífico.
On Sept. 4th, the Public Security Secretariat of Bahia introduced the arrest of three males suspected of involvement within the assassination of Bernadete Pacífico. One of them was present in Araçá city, about 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Bahia’s capital, Salvador, and confessed to the police that he was one of many murderers. The different two had no direct participation within the crime: One had the Quilombola chief’s mobile phone and the opposite saved the weapons supposedly used within the crime. The police are nonetheless on the lookout for a minimum of a fourth particular person concerned, who would even have fired photographs at Bernadete. Motivations for the killer of the Quilombola chief haven’t but been established or shared with the general public.
Throughout her life as a non secular chief and head of CONAQ, Bernadete denounced threats by land-grabbers searching for to invade their territory, unlawful logging of their Atlantic forests and petrochemical pipelines passing by the group.
In this interview with Mongabay, Jurandir speaks concerning the state of affairs for his group now, what has occurred since his mom’s killing and why there’s a scramble for land within the area. This interview was translated and edited for readability.
Mongabay: What was the position of Maria Bernadete Pacífico at Pitanga dos Palmares and in CONAQ?
Jurandir Pacífico: Mother Bernadete, as she was identified, was the chief of the quilombo. She was accountable for creating the companies that exist there immediately: electrical energy, a well being submit, a major college and a toddler nursery. In 2005, she based the Muzanzo Association, with initiatives such because the well being honest and household agriculture tasks. Our group’s seed community was additionally created by her, along with forest restoration work in degraded areas. Whenever an space was deforested, she got here up with a reforestation mission.
My mom inspired the safeguarding of the Quilombola tradition, expressed by music, capoeira, dance and crafts in clay and piaçava straw. As CONAQ nationwide coordinator, she labored on the implementation of public insurance policies and educated new leaders, like my brother, Flávio Gabriel Pacífico, referred to as Binho do Quilombo, who was killed in 2017.
Mongabay: Could you discuss Pitanga dos Palmares and why you suppose it is very important shield it from an environmental standpoint?
Jurandir Pacífico: The quilombo is inside the Joanes Ipitanga Environmental Protection Area (APA), within the city of Simões Filho, positioned within the metropolitan space of Salvador, Bahia’s capital. The quilombo has 854.2 hectares [2,110 acres]. A superb portion of it’s fashioned by the Atlantic Forest. The APA can be house to the Itamboatá Valley, sanctuary of this biome, and of the São Sebastião aquifer, which provides the area and a part of the capital.
Pitanga dos Palmares started to be populated by our ancestors within the nineteenth century and immediately it’s house to nearly 300 households. In 2005, it was licensed by the Palmares Cultural Foundation [linked to the Ministry of Culture] as a remaining quilombo group, which is the primary stage of the land titling course of. But nonetheless immediately, we would not have the title, which is issued by INCRA [National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform].
Mongabay: What environmental points did your mom cope with that you simply nonetheless face within the quilombo?
Jurandir Pacífico: For many years, the group has suffered a collection of socioenvironmental assaults and new ones have emerged in recent times. We reside 6 km [3.7 mi] from the Camaçari Petrochemical Complex, which opened in 1978 and positioned 16 pipelines throughout our territory, a few of them at floor degree, to move chemical merchandise to the Port of Aratu. Fiocruz [a research institution linked to the Ministry of Health] attested that the blocking valve station put in within the quilombo has the potential to blow up and trigger air pollution by poisonous gases.
We face unlawful logging, which my mom denounced for the final time on July 26 — three weeks earlier than being killed — to Federal Supreme Court Minister Rosa Weber in a gathering with Quilombola leaders in Bahia.
Our state has the most important Quilombola inhabitants within the nation. Real property builders need to construct condominiums for native trade staff. The enlargement of the BA-093 freeway, carried out in 2010 with out public hearings, brought on deforestation within the space. The Bahia Norte Concessionaire, licensed by the state authorities, put in a toll plaza near the quilombo, which makes us pay once we enter and go away it.
But what has been severely degrading the realm is the rubbish dump put in subsequent to the group, with the approval of the town corridor. It was a struggle, along with Quilombo Dandá, in order that the corporate Naturalle wouldn’t set up the dump. Then the threats started.
That landfill value my brother Flávio his life. In March 2017, the communities filed a illustration with the state and federal public ministries, which opened an inquiry to research the case. On Sept. 3 , throughout an occasion on the Federal University of Bahia, Flávio [his brother] made a criticism towards the landfill. Thirteen days later, he was killed with 12 bullet wounds contained in the quilombo.
To today, the Bahia Police and the Federal Police haven’t recognized the criminals, though I even delivered a photograph of a suspect who hid his face on the toll sales space, leaving the quilombo, and who was seen earlier on the execution website.
Mongabay: What occurred subsequent? Was the landfill put in?
Jurandir Pacífico: Yes, and it dumps a whole lot of tons of home and hospital waste per thirty days. The proprietor of Naturalle, Vitor Loureiro Souto, is the son of Paulo Souto, former governor of Bahia. In 2018, INEMA [Bahia’s environmental agency] denied the license for the landfill, arguing that its location would enable the contamination of the aquifer and of small watercourses that kind the Joanes River Basin. The mission additionally deliberate the deforestation of just about 12 hectares [29.6 acres] of Atlantic Forest within the medium stage of regeneration, which was serving to to get well the riparian forests. But Naturalle filed a reconsideration request and acquired the environmental license in 2019.
Petrochemical pipelines, a jail [the Simões Filho Penal Colony, which was inaugurated 4 km (2.5 mi) away in 2007], a landfill — solely a nuclear energy plant is lacking. I’ve by no means seen so many unhealthy issues collectively in only one space. But an agricultural college or a college doesn’t come. Embasa [Bahian Water and Sanitation Company S.A.] takes water from the APA supply to the metropolitan area, however we’re not entitled to consuming water. The struggle towards all these aberrations made us lose our leaders.
Maria Bernadete Pacífico [looking down] was the chief of Pitanga of Palmares quilombo, positioned in Bahia state. Here she is on the CONAQ National Women’s Meeting. Image courtesy of CONAQ.
Mongabay: Last week you went to a police station to offer your assertion. Do the police have already got any leads on suspects?
Jurandir Pacífico: The investigation is underneath secrecy; I’ve not obtained info up to now.
Mongabay: Did the Federal Supreme Court Minister Rosa Weber communicate out towards your mom’s killing?
Jurandir Pacífico: Yes. In the August assembly, the minister had already said that our calls for had been an previous declare of the Quilombola communities and knowledgeable us that she signed an ordinance for the formation of a examine group on Quilombola points, with emphasis on land titling. With the loss of life of Bernadete, Weber declared that the native authorities should undertake measures for the pressing clarification and reparation of the crime.
Mongabay: Why aren’t the general public authorities extra current in defending the quilombo territory and group?
Jurandir Pacífico: This is a query that the nation should reply. My quick concern is the security of my household. After my mom’s killing, we left the quilombo, together with my brother Flávio’s spouse and kids, and we’re in a secret location. We have the navy police escort, however I don’t know till when. Bernadete obtained fixed threats and was underneath the safety program of the Secretariat of Justice and Human Rights (SJDH) of Bahia. This safety comprised seven cameras put in in the home, three of which had been damaged, and a day by day 15-minute go to by a police patrol.
The minister of human rights, Silvio Almeida, is in communication with CONAQ to debate our state of affairs and that of the quilombo. The governor of Bahia, Jerônimo Rodrigues, with whom we’ve got been making an attempt to talk for greater than two weeks, doesn’t reply.
Mongabay: What do you need to say to the governor?
Jurandir Pacífico: We need the state to take accountability for the crime and set up a set of public insurance policies for the quilombo. We are going to ask for compensation for our household, as Mother Bernadete died underneath state safety.
Mongabay: Does the truth that Pitanga dos Palmares doesn’t have a land tittle contribute to the vulnerability of the quilombo and its inhabitants?
Jurandir Pacífico: It’s all interconnected. In November 2017, shortly after Flávio’s killing — and 12 years after the titling course of started — INCRA issued the Territory’s Technical Identification and Delimitation Report (RTID), probably the most necessary steps for the titling. Why isn’t the title prepared but?
My mom had two goals: figuring out who killed my brother and having the land tenure doc in her palms. Because when the group has the title, we’re, in citation marks, extra protected against threats.
Atlantic Forest within the state of Rio de Janeiro. Image © Sarah Brown.
Mongabay: On Aug. 23, INCRA revealed within the Federal Official Gazette a notification for the “homeowners or occupants of recognized rural properties within the quilombo.” Why are there solely 44 names within the doc and why aren’t yours or your mom’s names there?
Jurandir Pacífico: That was a query that INCRA was making an attempt to deal with after my mom was killed. There is written in her e book the names of the individuals who ought to have been notified. I’ll have a gathering with INCRA [Sept. 4]. What I do know is that the title to the land is collective.
Mongabay: What do you consider would be the way forward for quilombo Pitanga dos Palmares with out your mom? What do you propose to do going ahead?
Jurandir Pacífico: Last Wednesday I resigned from my job as a result of I concern for my life. Although I can’t expose myself now as a result of I’m additionally accountable for my nephews, Flávio’s kids, I’ll take the management of the quilombo. The group will keep it up my mom and brother’s legacy.
Banner picture: Maria Bernadete Pacífico was the chief of Pitanga of Palmares quilombo, positioned in Bahia state. Image courtesy of CONAQ.
After Bruno Pereira’s homicide, widow Beatriz Matos strives for Indigenous rights
Related listening from Mongabay’s podcast: We have a look at how the Shuar Indigenous group in Ecuador just lately gained a main victory to guard its ancestral territory of Tiwi Nunka Forest from cattle ranchers, loggers and miners. Listen right here:
FEEDBACK: Use this manner to ship a message to the creator of this submit. If you need to submit a public remark, you are able to do that on the backside of the web page.