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League of Poor Peasants (LCP) Liga dos Camponeses Pobres

Among Brazilian revolutionary movements, one stands out for its violence and its communist character, the self-proclaimed League of Poor Peasants (LCP -Liga dos Camponeses Pobres) — a splinter group from the larger Landless Workers Movement (aka “MST”). It has links to the Trotskyist movement and the Brazilian Communist Party. Police in the Brazilian Northwest, especially in the State of Rondônia where the LCP is most active, call its militants “guerrillas.”

The League of Poor Peasants, an armed group with 20 camps in three states, has nine times more combatants than the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB) had in the Araguaia Guerrilla, and whose actions resulted in the death of 22 people in 2007. This is according to a report in the March 26, 2008, edition of IstoE, a left-of-center Brazilian newsweekly, third in national circulation, and while it is generally accurate and fair, its reporting is more uneven than that of circulation leader Veja.

The acronym LCP means Liga dos Camponeses Pobres (League of Poor Peasants), a radical organization of the extreme left that adopted armed struggle as a strategy to come to power in the country through "violent revolution." The LCP, under the negligence of the federal authorities and the silence of the rest of Brazil, installed itself around the year 2000 in the region and is, at every hour, more violent. Just in 2007, the group's operations produced 22 victims - 18 farm workers or farm owners, and four partisans. Widely known in Rondonia, the members of the LCP control 500,000 hectares. They were spread out among thirteen bases that extend from Jaru, in the center of the state, to the outskirts of the state capital Porto Velho, stretching across to the border with Bolivia, in a region where they had just opened a road. The purpose of the guerrillas would be to use the road as an escape route but, as long as neither the Federal Police nor the army bothers them, the clandestine trail is being called the trans-cocaine trail - over it, according to the local police, drugs, contraband and guerilla arms are smuggled.

The government authorities don't have access to any of these settlements. Under the cover of "agrarian revolution," the LCP carries its battle flags against the bourgeoisie, imperialism, and large rural landholdings while its activists assault, torture, kill, and terrorize in rural cities and zones deep in the interior of Brazil. Hooded, armed with machine guns, pistols, grenades and AR-15, FAL, and AK-47 rifles, which are supposed to be for the exclusive use of the armed forces, they totaled almost nine times more combatants than the 60 militants of the Communist Party of Brazil who hid themselves away in the Amazon jungle in the beginning of the 1970s during the legendary Araguaia Guerilla.

The IstoE reporters entered into the prohibited area. The district of Jacinopolis, 450 kilometers from Porto Velho, is the heart of the guerrilla zone. According to the secret service of the Rondonia Military Police, that is where the training camp is. To walk along the muddy, hostile dirt roads is like walking through a mine field. At any moment and with anyone that you might talk to, the fear of an ambush is constant. The activists have adopted the strategy of blocking the roads and of abducting people that transit through the area without a verbal safe-conduct pass granted by the LCP. "It is a way of combating the enemy forces," they wrote in one of the pamphlets that they distributed in the region.

In order to get the so-called agrarian "revolution" going, according to LCP documents, the main activity of the group is to put into practice the so-called "revolutionary violence." And, for the local inhabitants, there had been cold and vengeful violence. Of the 22 deaths in 2007, four were farmers and fourteen were farm workers, which the League classified as paramilitary. On the guerrilla side, four partisans were buried - murdered under different circumstances by hit men from the farms of the region.

Besides killing, the LCP is accused by the police of burning homes, burning machines and equipment, and of devastating the Amazon forest. The residents in the community where Garcia lived don't know the meaning of class struggle or revolutionary parties, and much less what socialism is. But they know very well that, since the LCP has been around, there have been more deaths by killing than normal deaths.

The only ones who are able to openly pass through guerrilla territory are the clandestine lumber truckers that pay a toll of R$ 2,000 per day to the LCP to drive on the dirt roads controlled by the militia. In exchange for the toll, the guerillas provided armed security for the lumber smugglers so that they can rob trees from private property, conservation areas and Indian lands. These are lands that the LCP says that it has "taken" - and the verb "take," instead of "trespass" or "occupy," as the Landless Worker's Movement (MST) prefers, is not mere semantics, but a revelation of the bellicose nature of the group.As can be seen in the League's pamphlets, the guerrillas post men at bases on the hilltops with binoculars and firecrackers to announce an "invasion" of their area by "enemy forces." It is a failure of the Brazilian Army that allows these terrorists to occupy the border areas.

The rebels control people's lives, besides investigating who is who in the region. Whoever does not "collaborate" with them - by providing money, livestock or a part of the production - becomes the target of cowardly attacks. Stories of farm workers in the area that were placed naked over ant hills, or beaten until they abandoned the area, are very much present in the minds of the residents. The torture carried out against rural workers make it difficult to hire manual labor in the region.

Far from there, in the city of Cujubim, the rural workers that are employed on the farms can't walk around unarmed. Treated as if they were paramilitary, the farm workers are favorite targets for attacks from the League, after the owners themselves. With death at every step, fear has transformed entire districts into unpopulated zones - true ghost towns - and has created a mass of refugees from their own land, expulsed by guerrillas.

The LCP militants are so audacious that in 2007 more than 200 of them marched hooded through the streets of the town of Buritis, 450 kilometers from Porto Velho, until they stopped at the gates of the police station, where they demanded the exit of Police Chief Goncalves from the district. The reason: He had arrested one of the leaders of the guerrilla faction. Not yet satisfied, the bandits beat on the doors of the Public Prosecution Office and of the courthouse demanding that the heads of these government bodies also step down. This was reported to the Ministry of Justice, to President Lula and to the state government.

As tragic as the terror that this armed group imposes on the rural communities is the fact that the state and federal governments know of the existence of this armed band - and don't do anything. According to the LCP Dossier, a confidential, 120-page Rondonia police report, sent December 2007 to the Brazilian Intelligence Agency (ABIN), to the Army, and the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, the armed group, besides committing every kind of barbarity, was financed by illegal loggers. According to the document, the LCP controlled an area estimated at 500,000 hectares, where it indoctrinated more than 4,000 poor peasant families spread out among more than 20 agrarian reform camps variously placed in the states of Minas Gerais, Para, and Rondonia.

Documents in the possession of IstoE proved that federal government authorities have turned a deaf ear to the problem. On January 11, 2008, the Federal government agrarian ombudsperson, the Appellate Judge Gercino Jose da Silva Filho, received the accusations sent to him about the illegal activities committed by the League of Poor Peasants. Once again, nothing was done. In the state of Para in November 2007, during the so-called Peace in the Countryside Operation, an action involving the Army, civil and military police, and federal police expelled LCP squatters that had occupied the Fourkilha Farm, in the southern part of the state. With two helicopters, 200 men and 40 police vehicles, the task force surrounded the area and arrested almost 150 militants and recovered a true war arsenal.

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Page last modified: 15-09-2013 18:58:59 ZULU