The Star of Maceió: Colombian-Style Gunpoint Labor Relations in Pará?

Cumarú do Norte, Pará

There is an organic link between the ParTy of the 40 gangsters, the agro-terrorist MST, the narco-terrorist FARC, the MIR and the kidnap-terrorist PPMR and the narco-retailing PCC, which now doubles as its armed wing, outsourcing terrorism in the service of ideology. Tribuna Nacional (Brazil), July 17, 2006 (from Google cache)

NGOs dream of using the criminal power and the weapons of the traffic in favor of a social revolution they deem to be imminent and inevitable … It is needful for us not to heed their caveats, and to assume the risks and the collateral damage. It would be impossible to be more explicit than the words of Gov. Sergio Cabral about the narcotraffickers: “They are terrorists, they are evildoers.” – Col. Mário Sérgio de Brito Duarte, former commander of BOPE, the “trooper elite” of the Rio military police — unofficial but highly publicized motto: “We kill to create a better world” – and currently in charge of strategic planning for the state Secretary of Public Security (SSP), Rio de Janeiro. See also BOPE Blogs: “Only the Hard Men Can Save the City”

It is very effective to mobilize mass support against a scapegoated enemy by claiming that the enemy is part of a vast insidious conspiracy against the common good. The conspiracist worldview sees secret plots by tiny cabals of evildoers as the major motor powering important historical events; makes irrational leaps of logic in analyzing factual evidence in order to “prove” connections, blames social conflicts on demonized scapegoats, and constructs a closed metaphysical worldview that is highly resistant to criticism. When conspiracist scapegoating occurs, the results can devastate a society, disrupting rational political discourse and creating targets who are harassed and even murdered. Public Eye, “Conspiracism”

“The antiestablishment alliance has begun to organize itself spontaneously, through a converence of enemies and phobias. This shared aversion is what holds together the left that failed in May 1968 with the other that came over the Berlin Wall when it fell, along with intellectuals that gave cover to communism and today regard the anti-Western surge of Islamic jihadism with complacency, anti-globalization other-worlders of various stripes, and various forms of indigenous rights movements, populism and religious fanaticism.” —Jose Maria Aznar; see Aznar on the Phantom Menace

The Agência de Notícias de Polícia Federal (Brazil) tersely announces this week: A “militia” is broken up at a plantation in the Amazonian state of Pará and found in possession of military weapons.

Among other interesting police-blotter items, including a kickback scheme on cultural subsidies involving permanent bureaucrats of the Ministry of Culture, which the Ministry itself, in a note, said it invited the CGU (executive-branch forensic beancounting bureau) to investigate.

Likewise, the president of the state accounting tribunal (TCE, the judicial-branch forensic beancounting bureau) in Bahia was arrested for aiding and abetting a scheme to steer public contracts and skim money off into the usual underground pipelines. On both of which cases more later. The Brazilian police blotter always makes interesting reading.

On “armed non-state actors” in possession of weapons reserved for military use, see also

When federal investigators cited another agrobusiness installation in the state recently for slave labor and other substandard working conditions, Sen. Katia Abreu of Tocantins accused them of doctoring the video they presented to a Senate committee hearing on the case, and ordered them investigated by the federal police. They were later cleared and reinstated.

There is a tendency to identify “armed non-state actors” with the drug traffic that obscures the degree to which “non-narco vice” (particularly the jogo do bicho) figures in. Not to mention the Comando Azul (the police). And the latifúndio. And various creative combinations thereof, sometimes with enough clout to own the local government lock, stock and barrel.

Really, in many cases you read about, organized crime groups seem to be engaged in diversified enterprises that might range from, say, Paraguayan Marlboros and teenaged hookers paid with drugs to protection rackets, gunpoint electioneering, gunpoint labor relations, gunpoint real-estate brokerage, gambling, and even some Bolivian marching powder.

Pleasure is pleasure, neurologically speaking. A truckload is a truckload, logistically speaking. Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. That sort of thing.

In this case, there is another element: Slave labor. The company that owns the plantation in question was ordered to pay R$5 million in damages by the state labor tribunal for such violations on other properties it manages in, I think it was, 2005. Let me check.

REDENÇÃO/PA – A Polícia Federal desencadeou na madrugada de ontem, 19, a Operação Constelação. A ação teve como objetivo verificar a existência de uma milícia armada na Fazenda Estrela de Maceió, localizada no município de Cumarú do Norte (PA). Foi cumprido um mandado de busca expedido pela Justiça Federal de Marabá (PA), que resultou na apreensão de fuzis, pistolas, escopetas e munição, além de outros materiais usados pelo grupo que atuava na propriedade. Duas pessoas foram presas em flagrante.

The Federal Police initiated Operation Constellation on November 19, in order to verify the existence of an armed militia on the Star of Maceió plantation in Cumarú do Norte, Pará. A search warrant issued by the federal court in Marabá was served, resulting in the apprehension of assault rifles, shotguns and ammunition, as well as other materials used by the group that operated on the property. Two persons were arrested on the scene.

A ação foi desenvolvida pela delegacia da PF em Redenção, com apoio de policiais federais lotados na Superintendência Regional do Pará e do Comando de Operações Táticas (COT). Entre as armas apreendidas estavam um fuzil M-16.233; um fuzil Ruger.223; um fuzil Fal 7.62; quatro pistolas 9mm, 12 escopetas calibre 12 e munição. Foram apreendidos ainda balaclavas (capuzes), uniformes camuflados, algemas de plástico, silhuetas para tiro alvo, rádios transmissores, um aparelho de comunicação via satélite, uma camionete L-200, uma motocicleta, e quatro motosserras.

Among the weapons apprehended were an M-16.233, a Ruger .223, an FAL 7.62, four 9mm pistols, 12 12-gauge shotguns and ammunition. Also apprehended were ski masks, camouflage uniforms, plastic handcuffs, paper silhouettes used for target practice, radio transmitters, satellite communication equipment, an L-200 pickup truck, a motorcycle, and four chainsaws.


Os dois detidos atuavam como seguranças na fazenda. Eles foram autuados pelos crimes de posse ilegal de armas e formação de quadrilha. Contra um deles ainda existia um mandado de prisão expedido pela 3ª Vara Criminal de Maceió pelo crime de homicídio.

The two men arrested worked as security guards on the plantation. There were cited for weapons violations and criminal conspiracy. One of them was the subject of an outstanding warrant for homicide, issued by the 3rd Criminal Bar of Maceió.

Maceió, Alagoas?

There is a lot of background to this case.

Henri des Roziers of the Pastoral Land Commission in the region wrote to O Globo in July 2007 as follows, just to get us started on our reading:

1) No dia 13 de agosto de 2005, foram presos em flagrante na Delegacia de Policia Civil de Santana do Araguaia 06 empregados da Fazenda Estrela de Maceió: Manuel Messias da Silva, Everaldo Braz da Silva, Daniel Rodrigues de Sousa, José Camelo Freitas, José Luiz da Silva e Antonio Alves da Silva, todos autuados no art. 12 do Estatuto do Desarmamento, tendo sido encontradas com eles varias armas de grosso calibre. A própria policia arbitrou fiança e os acusados foram soltos no dia seguinte. Tudo indica que voltaram a trabalhar na “segurança” da Fazenda, como de costume.

On August 13, 2005, six employees of the Star of Maceió plantation were arrested at the state police precinct in Santana de Araguaia: Manuel Messias da Silva, Everaldo Braz da Silva, Daniel Rodrigues de Sousa, José Camelo Freitas, José Luiz da Silva and Antonio Alves da Silva, all under Article 12 of the Disarmament Statute, having been found in possession of high-caliber weapons. The policemen of the precinct paid their bail personally and the accused were released on the following day. Indications are that they returned to working “security” at the plantation, as usual.

2) Em outubro de 2005 os 03 sem terra Vigilato Olimpio de Freitas, João Abdias Santana e Antonio Miranda desapareceram quando passavam na estrada próximo à Fazenda. Há noticias de que foram seqüestrados em 12.10.05 por 11 pistoleiros com armas pesadas da Fazenda Estrela de Maceió. É quase certo que foram assassinados, pois jamais reapareceram. O Delegado Superintendente de Redenção instaurou procedimento para investigar, mas até agora nada foi apurado, as pessoas não reapareceram e ninguém foi responsabilizado.

In October 2005, three members of the “landless movement” … disappeared while travelling along the road near the plantation. There are reports they were kidnapped on October 12, 2005 by 11 gunmen with heavy weapons from the Star of Maceió. They were almost certainly assassinate, for they never reappeared. The police official in charge at Redenção initiated an investigation, but to date nothing has been discovered, the missing persons remain missing and no one has been held responsible.

3) Em Maio de 2006 03 homens, Roberto Dias Barbosa, Henrique Mengino, Gleibe Dias Barbosa e Lucas Gomes, também desapareceram quando retornavam da Fazenda Controreis em direção à Fazenda Dois Irmãos, próximo à Fazenda Estrela de Maceió. Jamais reapareceram. Há suspeitas de que pistoleiros a serviço da Fazenda Estela de Maceió, que faziam “vigilância” na estrada seriam os responsáveis por tal desaparecimento. O Delegado Superintendente de Redenção instaurou inquérito para investigar, mas até agora nada foi apurado, as pessoas não reapareceram e ninguém foi responsabilizado.

In May 2006, another three men disappeared as they were returning from the Controreis plantation in the direction of the Two Brothers plantation, near the Star of Maceió. They were never seen again. There are suspicions that Star of Maceió gunman who were performing “guard duty” on the road were responsible for the disappearances. The Redenção police opened an investigation, but to date nothing has been discovered, the missing persons remain missing and no one has been held responsible.

4) No dia 04 de dezembro de 2006, por volta das 15:00 houve uma emboscada feita por pistoleiros, próximo ao “Acampamento Cangaia-Brilhante”. Tudo indica que foi feita por pistoleiros da Fazenda Estrela de Maceió. Neste conflito, Reis Freitas Dias foi morto e as agricultoras Maria Helena Costa e Silva, Vicente Vantuir Vieira e outro sem terra ficaram feridos. O Delegado Superintendente de Redenção instaurou procedimento para investigar, mas até agora ninguém foi responsabilizado.

On December 4, 2006, around 3 pm, an ambush was conducted by gunmen near Camp “Canghaia-Brilhante.” All signs are that gunmen from the Star of Maceió. Reis Freitas Dias was killed and [others] were wounded. The Redenção police opened an investigation, but no one has been held responsible.

5) Os casos de 22 e 26 de junho supracitados são mais uma demonstração da truculência e da violência, protagonizada provavelmente pelos supostos donos da Fazenda Estrela de Maceió.

The cases of June 22 and 26 cited above are just one more example of the truculence and violence promoted by the supposed owners of the Star of Maceió plantation.

6) Importante destacar também que em fevereiro de 2006 o Frei Henri des Roziers, advogado da CPT, entregou pessoalmente à Delegada da Policia Federal de Redenção fotos de armas pesadas e de pistoleiros em uma guarita da entrada da Fazenda Estrela de Maceió. A Delegada abriu inquérito para apurar a existência de crime organizado. No entanto, não se tem nenhuma noticia de que houve apuração e responsabilização dos culpados.

It is important to remember as well that in Febraury 2006, Brother Henri des Roziers, an attorney for the CPT, personally delivered to the federal police at Redenção photos of heavy weapons and of gunmen in a guard shack at the entrance to the Star of Maceió. The federal police official in charge opened an organized crime investigation. However, there is no news that investigations were conducted or responsible parties held to account.

7) Vale notar que a Fazenda Estrela de Maceió, que hoje pertence à Fortex Engenharia Ltda, quando tinha como titular a Construtora Lima Araújo LTDA, foi flagrada diversas vezes pelo Grupo Móvel do Ministério do Trabalho, praticando Trabalho Escravo. Outra Fazenda do mesmo grupo chamada Estrela de Alagoas, localizada no Município de Piçarra, no Sul do Pará, também foi autuada e condenada a pagar 5 milhões de reais a titulo de indenização por dano moral. Vale dizer que esta foi a maior condenação deste tipo do País.

It is worth noting that the Star of Maceió, which now belongs to Fortex Engineering Ltd., was caught a number of times, under its previous owner, Lima Araújo Constructio, by the mobile inspection unit of the Ministry of Labor, for slave labor. Another plantation belonging to the same group, the Star of Alagoas, in Piçarra, in southern Pará, was also cited and ordered to pay R$5 million in damages — the largest such damages ever awarded in Brazil.

Em varias oportunidades, inclusive na ultimo dia 17 de abril, em que se lembrou o Massacre de Eldorado do Carajás, a Governadora Ana Júlia comprometeu-se solenemente a combater o crime organizado no campo e anunciou a entrega de helicópteros para a Policia com esta finalidade.

On various occasions, including last April 17, while commemorating the anniversary of the Eldorado do Carajás massacre, Gov. Ana Júlia [de Vasconcelos Carepa] solemnly pledged to combat organized crime in the rural areas, and announced delivery of helicopters to the state police for this purpose.

A tiny snippet from the Wikipedia gist of the incident, generally consistent with the account by DHNet and other sources.:

O chamado massacre de Eldorado dos Carajás ocorreu durante o conflito de 17 de abril de 1996 em Eldorado dos Carajás, no sul do Pará. Dezenove sem-terra foram mortos pela Polícia Militar. O confronto ocorreu quando 1.500 sem-terra que estavam acampados na região decidiram fazer uma marcha em protesto contra a demora da desapropriação de terras, principalmente as da Fazenda Macaxeira. A Polícia Militar foi encarregada de tirá-los do local, pois estavam obstruindo a rodovia PA-150, que liga Belém ao Sul do Pará.

The so-called massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás took place during the conflict of April 17, 1996 in southern Pará, in which 19 members of the landless movement were killed by the military police. …

Segundo o legista Nélson Massini, que fez a perícia dos corpos, pelo menos 10 sem-terra foram executados. Sete lavradores foram mortos por instrumentos cortantes, como foices e facões.

According to medical examiner Nélson Massini, who examined the bodies, at least ten of the demonstrators were executed. Seven of the workers were killed with edged weapons such as scythes and machetes.

The usual two in the nuca, that sort of thing.


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