“Globo Lies On Syngenta Shoot-Up Story”: Initiating Fact-Check

Fazendo Media (Brazil) published a reply by the Via Campesina movement to a report by TV Globo on the Syngenta incident

Let us try to give it an independent fact-check. One of the troubling features of coverage of the incident is the lack of clarity on whther the incident represented a “shoot-out” between the MST and what they call a “militia” or whether the militia fired on unarmed

Which if you have followed the labor dispute in Oaxaca will seem quite a familiar state of affairs. Even alternative media sympathetic to the cause of APPO and SNTE Section 22 have been fuzzy on this point, as has the Mexican federal human rights commission.

No último domingo, uma milícia armada invadiu um acampamento sem-terra e executou a tiros o militante do Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) e membro da Via Campesina, Valmir Mota de Oliveira. Diante do ocorrido, a Via Campesina divulgou a nota abaixo, em que questiona a versão da TV Globo:

Last Sunday, an armed militia raided a “landless workers” encampment and executed with gunfire a member of the MST and Via Campesina, Valmir Mota de Oliveira. Given this fact, the Via Campesina issed the following press release, which calls into question TV Globo’s reporting on the subject.

NOTA PÚBLICA

Public statement

Após reocupação nenhum refém foi mantido no local, ao contrário do que a Rede Globo informou.

After the reoccupation, not hostages were held at the location, unlike what the Globo Network reported.

Domingo (21), por volta das 13h30, o acampamento da Via Campesina, no campo de experimentos transgênicos da Syngenta, em Santa Tereza do Oeste (PR), foi atacado por uma milícia armada. No massacre o militante do Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) e membro da Via Campesina, Valmir Mota de Oliveira (conhecido como Keno), foi executado à queima roupa com dois tiros no peito. Os trabalhadores Gentil Couto Viera, Jonas Gomes de Queiroz, Domingos Barretos, Izabel Nascimento de Souza e Hudson Cardin foram gravemente feridos.

On October 21, around 1:30 pm, the Via Campesina camp, located in an Syngenta field where genetically modified plants were being tested, in Santa Tereza do Oeste (Paraná), was attacked by an armed militia. During the massacre, Mota (known as “Keno”) was executed at point-blank range with two gunshots to the chest. Rural workers Gentil Couto Viera, Jonas Gomes de Queiroz, Domingos Barretos, Izabel Nascimento de Souza and Hudson Cardin were critically injured.

Diante dos acontecimentos a Via Campesina faz os seguintes esclarecimentos:

We wish to clarify the following facts regarding these events:

1. A reocupação da área da Syngenta aconteceu às 6h de domingo (21), por cerca 150 agricultores. Na ação os trabalhadores rurais soltaram fogos de artifício. No momento havia quatro seguranças na área. Uma das armas dos seguranças foi disparada e feriu um trabalhador, que foi hospitalizado. Os agricultores desarmaram os seguranças, que em seguida abandonaram o local. As armas foram apreendidas para serem entregues para a polícia.

1. The reoccupation of the Syngenta area occurred at 6:00 am on October 21, and was carried out by around 150 farmers. During this action, the rural workers set off fireworks. At that moment there were four security guards in the area. One fired his weapon and wounded a worker, who was hospitalized. The farmers disarmed the security guards, who then left the scene. The weapons were taken into custody to be handed over to police.

2. Por volta da 13h30, um ônibus parou em frente ao portão de entrada e uma milícia armada com aproximadamente 40 pistoleiros fortemente armados desceu metralhando as pessoas que se encontravam no acampamento. Eles arrombaram o portão, executaram o militante Keno com dois tiros no peito, balearam outros cinco agricultores e espancaram Isabel do Nascimento de Souza, que continua hospitalizada em estado grave.

Around 1:30 pm, a bus stopped at the entryway to the area and an armed militia comprising some 40 gunmen, heavily armed, got out, firing machine guns at people in the encampment. They broke down the gate, executed Keno with two bullets to the chest, shot five other farmworkers and beat Isabel do Nascimento de Souza, who remains hospitalized in critical condition.

3. A milícia atacou o acampamento para assassinar as lideranças e recuperar as armas ilegais da empresa NF Segurança, que foram apreendidas pelos trabalhadores. Os dirigentes do MST Celso Barbosa e Célia Aparecida Lourenço chegaram a ser perseguidos pelos pistoleiros, mas conseguiram escapar durante o ataque.

The militia attacked the camp in order to assassinate leaders of the protest and recover the illegal weapons belonging to NF Segurança, which the workers had apprehended. MST leaders Celso Barbosa and Célia Aparecida Lourenço were pursud by the gunmen, but managed to escape during the attack.

4. A Syngenta utilizava serviços de uma milícia armada, que agia através da empresa de fachada NF Segurança, em conjunto com a Sociedade Rural da Região Oeste (SRO) e o Movimento dos Produtores Rurais (MPR), ligado ao agronegócio.

Syngenta used the services of an armed militia, which acted behind the facade of the security firm NF Segurança, jointly with the Rural Society of the Western Region (SRO) and the Movement of Rural Producers (MPR), with ties to agrobusiness.

5. A denúncia da atuação de milícias armadas na região Oeste do Paraná foi reforçada durante uma audiência pública, na última quinta-feira (18), para a coordenação da Comissão de Direitos Humanos e Minorias da Câmara Federal dos Deputados (CDHM), em Curitiba (PR). Os dirigentes do MST, inclusive Keno, já vinham sendo ameaçados há mais de seis meses, pelas milícias que estavam a serviço do consórcio SRO/MPR/Syngenta. Um inquérito havia sido aberto para apurar as denúncias contra a Syngenta e a NF Segurança.

5. Charges that armed militias were operating in western Paraná were reinforced during a public hearing on October 18, held by the human rights committee of the federal lower house in Curitiba. MST leaders, Keno included, had been receiving threats for more than six months from militias in the service of SRO/MPR/Syngenta. An investigation had been opened into the charges against Syngenta and NF Segurança.

6. A Rede Globo vem sustentando em suas reportagens que a Via Campesina teria mantido reféns durante a reocupação. A versão da Rede Globo e de outros veículos da grande imprensa têm como objetivo criminalizar os movimentos sociais e retirar de foco o ataque realizado pela milícia da Syngenta, que executou um trabalhador e deixou outros feridos. A Via Campesina esclarece que não houve, em nenhuma hipótese, reféns durante a ocupação.

6. Globo has been reporting that Via Campesina took and held hostages during the reoccupation. It and other major news outlets aim to criminalize social movements and remove the spotlight from the attack carried out by Syngenta’s militia, which executed a worker and wounded others. VC states categorically that no hostage-taking occurred.

Trespassing, is, of course, a crime. You get fined and maybe spend a couple of days in jail for it, in civilized countries.

A bill was introduced in the Brazilian Congress last year that would have defined such actions as “terrorist acts.” The PATRIOT Act similarly defined “crimes against property carried out for ideological reasons,” or some such twaddle, as terrorist acts, giving rise to some weird and disturbing prosecutions.

Criminalizing mindsets rather than concrete acts seems to be in fashion on both sides of the Equator.
Personally, I do not care why the Revolutionary Vanguard of Wladimir says it stole my chicken: that it was expropriating my chicken for the revolution, or that it was just hungry and broke and like omelets. Or that it was just plain bored.

I just want my chicken back, or money to buy a new one.

No one needs to be summarily executed over it, though.

7. A Via Campesina exige punição dos responsáveis pelos crimes – principalmente os mandantes –, a desarticulação da milícia armada na região e o fechamento imediato da empresa de segurança NF. Além da garantia de segurança e proteção das vidas dos dirigentes Celso e Célia, e de todos os trabalhadores da Via Campesina, na região.

7. The Via Campesina demands that those responsible be punished — chiefly the persons in command of the action — as well as the disbanding of the militia and the closure of NF Segurança. And guarantees of the safety of Celso and Célia and all VC members in the area.

8. Os camponeses seguem na luta para que a área de experimentos ilegais de transgênicos da Syngenta seja transformada em Centro de Agroecologia e de reprodução de sementes crioulas para a agricultura familiar e a Reforma Agrária.

8. The campesinos will continue to resist the transformation of Syngenta’s illegal experimentation with genetically-modified seeds into an Agro-Ecology Center, and the reproduction of hybrid seed for family agriculture and agrarian reform.

The Lula government caused consternation among the “social movements” by licensing some work with geneticallly-modified crops in Brazil. I cannot say I understand the issue well, however.

I understand that organism patents that affect the farmer’s right to collect his own seed for replanting are controversial, as they are elsewhere in the world (India, I recall; Mexico …).

The MST is denouncing illegalities here.

I will have to check what the legal issues are.

Histórico

Historical background

O campo de experimento da Syngenta havia sido ocupado pelos camponeses em março de 2006 para denunciar o cultivo ilegal de sementes transgênicas de soja e milho. A ocupação tornou os crimes da transnacional conhecidos em todo o mundo. Após 16 meses de resistência, no dia 18 de julho deste ano, as 70 famílias desocuparam a área, se deslocando para um local provisório no assentamento Olga Benário, também em Santa Tereza do Oeste (PR).

[tktktktktk]

[signed,] VIA CAMPESINA

Well, then: Did Rede Globo lie?

It often does.

But not invariably.

Let us first see what it was they reported — did they report the taking of hostages? — then see what we can filter out the Rashomon effect in this all-too-familiar tale of corporate death-squads in Paraná.

One of the things I have noticed lately is that the federal police has been enforcing new regulations on private security firms, holding seminars to advise them of the new rules and the costs of noncompliance.

Will this get to be a federal case? Seven employees of NF Segurança have been arrested by state police in Paraná now, I am reading. On which more later.

Syngenta, like Cisco, has said it does not, and did not, endorse, any illegal actions by its employees or agents, and will cooperate with authorities to clarify the matter and exercise more adult supervision over its agents in the area.

This, I think is the standard thing to say. And the right thing to say, too, given the current regulatory risk scenario.

In Colombia, the Chiquita case invites comparison.

The issue of whether Ohio-based executives will be extradited to Colombia to answer for admitted criminal conduct under is an interesting one. Where do we stand on that?

The case also raises some of the same general questions about the liability of a foreign company for actions by its agents as the Cisco case does.

I have been reading up on the FCPA and the OECD compact on “corruption” cases, for example, and the negotiations, over the course of their legislative history, on just how to define the liability standard.

IANAFL, of course.

In the 1998 amendment of the FCPA, for example — the 1988 amendment effectively ruled out any accountability, critics complained —

… The “knowing” requirement is retained, and the “recklessly disregarding” standard was abandoned in conference. However, the “knowing” requirement is intended to encompass the “conscious disregard” and “willful blindness” standards, including a conscious purpose to avoid learning the truth.

How do you establish a “conscious purpose to avoid learning the truth” in a court of law, anyway?

The notion recalls the concept of “plausible deniability.”

Reagan never ordered anyone to channel money through slush funds to the nun-raping, drug-running Contras.

He never knew it was happening.

But it was understood that if he could know, he would approve. Or some such queer theory of postmodern epistemology according to which, as in Zen Buddhism, in a certain cosmic way, there is no “I” that “knows.”

Thus was the virus of Gnostic logic-chopping introduced into the interpretation of the Constitution of the United States of Rockin’ America.

That scenario is, of course, the subject of a Hollywood movie based on a Tom Clancy novel, Clear and Present Danger.

If you must have an infotainment point of reference in order to grok public policy issues.

As dramatic recreations of public ethical dilemmas go, that was actually not a bad one.

Embarrassing fact about me: I am something of a loyal Clancy reader. I would never admit to being a fan, mind you … Call it Zeitgeist research.

If many people have Clancy narratives programmed into their brains, you cannot reverse-engineer their brains without having examined the Clancy codebase.

Yeah: that’s my excuse.

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