Brazil’s MST Campesinos Occupy Farm Belonging to Temer

About 800 landless people took control of the land at 6 a.m. as part of the movement’s National Day of Struggle.

A sign outside the farm reads, "Lands of the corrupt for the agrarian reform," in Sao Paulo.
A sign outside the farm reads, “Lands of the corrupt for the agrarian reform,” in Sao Paulo. | Photo: MST

The Landless Workers’ Movement in Brazil occupied a farm Wednesday that appears to belong to senate-imposed president Michel Temer to protest right-wing agrarian reforms.

The campesinos occupied the Esmeralda farm, located between the cities of Lucianopolis and Duartina, in western Sao Paulo to denounce the implementation of land reforms under the austerity measures taken by the government.

About 800 landless people took control of the land at 6 a.m. as part of the movement’s National Day of Struggle, under the slogan “Corrupt (Elements) Give Us Back Our Land.”

According to teleSUR correspondent in Sao Paulo, Nacho Lemus, the campesinos denounced that Temer extended his US$5 million farm over to public land. They also protested that the owners are currently accused of corruption and that the government has been responsible for the death of hundreds of MST members since 2016.

In addition to this, the MST organized 10 other simultaneous land occupations throughout the country. The movement also opposes land reform that eases restrictions on foreigners to own land in Brazil at the expense of poor families in irregular settlements.

“The objective of this action is to denounce the attack on the Brazilian Constitution promoted by the coup government of Michel Temer, both with the absurd provisional measures that have been destroying the rights of Brazilians, and their corrupt practices together with its allies,” Mercedes Zuliane, a national leader of the MST said.

“The occupations are the response to the murder of 61 Indigenous campesinos in 2016; And 48 in 2017.”

“Temer is summoned for illicit enrichment and campaign money diverted by his front man’s company. This is his property”

“Temer’s lands are valued at more than US$ 5 million. They are managed by Cnel. Lima, his front man (also denounced for corruption).”

The property, about 1,500 hectares with a luxurious swimming pool, landscaping and a large eucalyptus production, belong in paper to a company called Argeplan, under the name of Joao Batista Lima Filho, known as Coronel Lima.

Batista Lima is an advisor and personal friend of Temer, who is also one of the partners of Argeplan. Residents of Esmeralda claim the farm is actually owned by Temer, who covered up any possible irregularities by using his aide’s name.

This is the second time the MST occupies the Esmeralda farm, after its first action in May 2016, when the campesinos found a written letter addressed to Temer more than 20 years ago and campaign materials for his political party, the PMDB in legislative elections in 2006.

Campesinos alleged the place is a “headquarters, used by the PMDB leader for private meetings of their party.”

At the time, Lima said Temer did use the premises during the 2014 campaign, while he was still vice president under the presidency of Dilma Rousseff, who he helped bring down in a move dubbed a parliamentary coup by her followers.

“The economic and political growth of both happened simultaneously, evidencing the partnership between Temer and Coronel Lima in the long term,” Zuliane said.

Argeplan is also being investigated for paying bribes to receive contracts and giving money to Temer’s campaign according to a report by Epoca, in the trial involving Temer and JBS — the largest meat packing company — in the country’s largest corruption scheme.

During the investigations, police found documents related to Temer’s election campaign in 2002, and papers detailing a reform in the house of the president’s daughter Maristela Temer.