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Police, Protestors Clash in Brazil

July 26, 2000

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil (AP) _ Police clashed with demonstrators in anti-government protests over land reform, leaving at least 11 people injured, Brazilian media reported.

In Recife, some 1,200 miles northeast of Rio, a farm worker was shot and wounded Tuesday and 10 others were injured in clashes with police when members of the Landless Rural Workers Movement tried to enter a Bank of Brazil building demanding agricultural credits.

The man who was shot, Jose Marlucio da Silva, was hospitalized in serious condition, hospital officials said. The rest of those injured were treated and released.

The movement is well known throughout Brazil for organizing large-scale occupations of land it considers unproductive in order to pressure the government into speeding up its agrarian reform program.

In recent years, the movement has also taken to invading banks and other public institutions to press its demands, which include the settlement of some 4 million landless families it claims to represent.

In Brazil, land is a frequent source of conflict because the richest 20 percent of the population owns about 90 percent the land, while the poorest 40 percent holds just 1 percent.

Protests over land reform were held in seven states Tuesday. Early in the day, protesters clashed with police while attempting to board an Argentine ship carrying genetically modified soy beans in the port of Recife, the Estado news agency reported.

In Teodoro Sampaio of western Sao Paulo state, about 150 members of the movement occupied a courthouse for two hours Tuesday morning before leaving peacefully.

Meanwhile, in Brasilia, the nation’s capital, dozens of protesters called for a congressional investigation into a scandal involving cost overruns on a Sao Paulo courthouse.

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