Urubu Branco Indigenous Land and peasants suffer from deforestation and pesticide drift
“You can take it all, resist pressure of all kinds, but I want to see you resist the poison”, heard Valdiva de Oliveira e Silva, now 66, from an employee of “Gilbertão”, who wanted to expel her from her lot, in the Gleba Novo Horizonte settlement, in Confresa, Mato Grosso. Grileiro Gilberto - arrested for grilagem [land fraud], threat and use of violence in 2009 - was correct in the forecast. The farmer, a leader known for enduring death threats and physical attacks by henchmen, ended up defeated by the rain of pesticides poured by the soybean producers on her pequi and orange trees. When the cows started to die from the poison, she was the last to leave the house in the community of 80 families.
“I just couldn't resist the poison. I stayed with the 36 bushels land, in the middle of an area of 16 thousand hectares of sugarcane crops. It was a plane all day, throwing insecticide, herbicide. They used it as strategy, my area became the plane's maneuver point, they made the return over my land. The wind was pulling the poison and rain was coming over us,” she says.
The cane field gave way to the soy plantations of the Agropecuária Três Flechas without Valdiva being able to recover the damage - she even registered a police report at the Confresa police station, but nothing happened. Her son Moses, then a teenager, suffered from an allergy that persists today. In 2015, she was finally settled in Gleba Independente I, also in the rural area of Confresa. But she was unable to escape the poison. When she moved there, the communities in the region were already suffering from the drift (the application of the product that deviates from the target) of glyphosate, the pesticide most used by Brazilian agribusiness. Fazenda Luta, the largest producer of transgenic soy in the region, is just 4 km from your home.
Valdiva says that she already knew that she would be surrounded by soy again. “And I also know that ten years from now, these settlements where we are, where there is flat land that can be turned into soy, will turn into soy. I don't know how we're going to live. Here we already feel the effects, I don't know if it's from Luta, if it's from the farm that is back here. But the plants wither, break, harden and never come back ”, she enumerates.
About 90% of the territory of the municipality of Confresa is formed by rural settlements, according to the city hall. The four weekly food fairs, produced by almost 6 thousand settled families, generate an income of R $ 3 million per year. In the words of the secretary of Agriculture, Environment and Tourism of Confresa, Iranilto de Matos Rodrigues, it is this income that “makes the city go round”.
Settled himself and ex-executor of the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra) of Araguaia, Rodrigues highlights that the drift of agrochemicals from the Luta farm is even more worrying because it is “almost inside” the municipality's headquarters and “on the border with the Indians". He refers to the border of the Luta farm with the Indigenous Land (TI) Urubu Branco (White Vulture) a large rectangle of transitional forest between the cerrado and the Amazon rainforest that the Apyãwa people, known as Tapirapé, struggle to preserve. The indigenous people complain mainly about the pollution of the waters, since the riverside passes through the farm before joining the Onça stream, in their territory. “They have been complaining, the farmers have been complaining, our technicians who have properties around there have also been complaining. We have to find a more peaceful way to live together, mainly because here they end up using aerial spraying a lot ”, says the secretary.
Father Alex Venuncio Gonçalves, coordinator of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) in Alto Araguaia, which for years has followed the land conflicts resulting from the expansion of soy in the region, makes an even more serious complaint. According to him, spraying has been used as a way to expel family farmers, as happened with Valdiva. “At first, it was armed struggle, gunmen. Then there was intense judicialization, which often hurt small farmers. Today we have a chemical war: the drift of poison fulfills this function, because they end up with the productions of the peasants, generating a situation of impoverishment and pressuring them to negotiate their plots and leave ”, he says.
Read the full report on the website of Agência Pública.