Society

Bankrupt sugarcane mills lead to tension and violence in Pernambuco

The murder of a nine-year-old sent shockwaves around Brazil. Police and human rights organizations believe a long-held dispute over decommissioned sugarcane mills is to blame

mills dispute violence
Police investigate the murder of a nine-year-old in Barreiros. Source: Pastoral Land Commission (CPT)

Geovane da Silva Santos was watching television with his family on the night of February 10, when seven armed masked men broke into his house. One of the gunmen shot at Geovane and the bullet grazed his shoulder.

“That’s not the guy,” warned one of the criminals.

Indeed, Geovane was the intended target, but the gunmen did not know what he looked like. When they came across the 51-year-old rural worker, with skin aged from too much sun, they didn’t recognize him.

Geovane managed to flee the house, but his wife Marlene, two children, and two nieces remained inside. They...

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