Friday, 1 February 2013

News Release: The Right Livelihood Award Foundation Condemns Murder Of Brazilian Activists


Cícero Guedes

The Right Livelihood Award Foundation strongly condemns the murder of Cícero Guedes, a leader of the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement MST. The MST received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize”) in 1991.

Cícero Guedes dos Santos, coordinator of the Landless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra, MST) of Brazil was killed by gunmen on Friday, January 25th. He received some twelve shots to the head while he was bicycling away from a settlement of landless families in the vicinity of the Cambahyba sugar plant, in the municipality of Campos dos Goytacazes in Rio de Janeiro. It is yet unclear who is responsible for the murder.

The MST received the Right Livelihood Award Foundation in the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm in 1991 "for winning land for landless families and helping them to farm it sustainably". Ole von Uexkull, Executive Director of the Foundation, said: "The Right Livelihood Award Foundation strongly condemns this crime and calls on the state of Rio de Janeiro and the Brazilian government to protect the Landless Movement and their activists."

Other Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award from all over the world expressed their solidarity and support to the family and colleagues of the murdered activist. The Paraguayan educator and human rights advocate Martín Almada (RLA 2002), lamented that "violent actions continue to claim the lives of Latin American leaders and advocates for the environment and sustainability."

On their website, the MST explains that Cícero Guedes, who was a sugar-cane cutter, coordinated the occupation of a complex of seven farms with 3,500 hectares (8,600 acres) located in the State of Rio de Janeiro. 14 years ago, this large estate was subject to expropriation by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA). However, the process continued only recently, when it was approved by the Federal Court in August 2012.

Although 11 years ago he had already managed to acquire land and become a "settler" himself, Cícero Guedes dos Santos remained a tireless advocate of agrarian reform. He taught organic farming techniques to families occupying estates and would always argue that the products obtained from ecologically sound agriculture are "superior" to those sold in supermarkets. His colleagues and family say that nature "was his source of inspiration.”

Cícero Guedes leaves behind five children.

Ole von Uexkull
Executive Director
Right Livelihood Award Foundation
+ 46 8 70 20 337
Email: info@rightlivelihood.org

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