At 4 pm on December 8, a paramilitary group that serves the interests of the plant “Utinga Leão”, located between the cities of Rio Largo and Messias (in the state of Alagoas, northeastern Brazil), invaded a camp organized by the Poor Peasants League (LCP).
The paramilitaries terrorized the peasants and shouted out the names of peasant leaders in that region. When they found an important peasant leader, Elias Francisco Santos da Silva, they shot him with several shots of heavy weapons, which experts identified as exclusively used by the Armed Forces. A bullet fragment was found that is used in rifles of the Brazilian Armed Forces.
The peasant Elias was a simple man from a humble family, had common habits and worked with great dignity. He was the coordinator for almost a year of the area known as “Lageiro” in the city of Messias. He didn’t believe in false promises. Due to this he approached the Poor Peasants League, a serious organization which Elias was proud to belong to and defend. He was married, the father of six children, and lived and worked along with his family and many others camped in that area.
The peasants’ movement had made complaints that the security guards of the plant “Utinga Leão” were trained to serve as a militia to attack the poor peasants. Even after several complaints, protests and demonstrations, we saw our dear comrade brutally murdered by the order of the landlord.
Besides their weapons, the gunmen wore hoods and bulletproof vests. After murdering our companion Elias and expelling the remaining peasants from the camp, the paramilitary criminals remained hidden among the trees surrounding the area until the Military Police arrived.
When the police arrived they were received with shots by the gunmen.The police left and returned later with reinforcements, when there were renewed clashes. The police commander was forced to leave the area because he said the police were not trained to fight in those conditions (in the forest).
These events, besides the fact that the gunmen executed a leader of the peasant organization, reveal that these gunmen had training in military tactics and intelligence for fighting in the jungle, and that it is a special armed organization of the landlord.
On the morning of December 9, four people, probably from the same group of gunmen that murdered the leader Elias, tried to intimidate some peasants of the “Movement for Land, Work and Freedom” (another peasant organization which operates in northeastern Brazil). But this organization (after the murder of Elias) had set up a security plan and expelled the paramilitaries.
The funeral of Elias was simple and quick, as desired by his relatives. The brutality of these fascist killers was extreme; their 12-gauge shotgun blasts in the face of our companion left him disfigured. This prevented his coffin from being opened at his funeral.
But all the honors and tributes to the militant proletarian defender of the working class were maintained. At the beginning of the ceremony the hymn of the International was sung, and then the friends and members of Elias’ family expressed their feelings on his death. When each speaker finished, everyone shouted: Fellow Elias! Present!
Committee to Support the Camp Lageiro
Poor Peasants League (LCP)
Fellow Elias! Present!