Brazil, How Can You Do This?

by Michele on August 24, 2012

Stang Amazon.jpg

Regivaldo Gilvao was released from prison on appeal. Brazil’s Supreme Court released the conspirator and mastermind of the murder of Dorothy Stang on August 22.  Apparently, in Brazil, one must be in prison for a bit of time before an appeal for release can be lodged and then implemented by the court. He was put away in mid 2011.

Will he ever return to prison? Will he be acquitted?  Will Dorothy’s case just slip away or will her followers and pro bono lawyers keep it alive? They will try but the odds are against them.

Some things never seem to change. It has been 7 years since Sister Dorothy’s death and her story and that of Anapu, where she worked, is essentially the same! Rich ranchers still have the upper hand and activists are still being killed. The man is free.

I wish I thought there will be a just ending to this story.  However, Brazil’s adulation of rich and powerful ranchers, politicians, you name it, is a major element of that culture. And this man is very very rich.

Isn’t it part of our culture too?  I vowed I would not blog about the nasty campaign for President and Vice President that we are going through. But right now the news from Brazil brings to my mind the universal question: how can we really get justice if we are small and without the kind of moneyed power that SuperPacs bestow on candidates?

When I started looking into Dorothy’s story in 2005,  I thought often about a parallel of big developers taking over land in our US cities and countryside – more shopping centers, unnecessary roadwork and bridges, and large and expensive apartment complexes.   Then one personal incident came back to me.

In the late 1960’s I lived in Philadelphia’s Society Hill, a restored part of the 18th and 19th Century historical area of the city, named for the Free Society of Traders.  New sites were being refurbished every day.  I was returning home late one night in a taxi. The driver pulled up to my little house that I shared with my roommates and pointed across the street.

“I was born right over there,” he said. My folks and I had to leave so the city could take over my home and rehab the block.  They paid us a pittance to move down to South Philly.  No way could we afford to move back in.”

This man and his family were entitled to some  bitterness but they had never been threatened by thugs. Still, I felt some guilt to be living there.

In Brazil, thugs continue to throw legal settlers  off crop lands and out of their homes.  I need to keep the story alive.  Help the Amazon settlers. Watch this story with me and lets stand up to the bullies with as much strength as we can muster!


{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Ratzlaff August 24, 2012 at 4:43 pm

Michelle, I hadn’t heard about Regivaldo being released! Sad, sad day. And worrisome for the people and Sisters in Anapu! Thank you for encouraging us to stand up to bullies…there certainly seems to be no end to them! Blessings, Karen


Michele Michele August 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Yes, sad news. I hope to hear from some of the Sisters down there at some point so I can post more info.

Can’t seem to post on your site. the problem is mine…we are trying to figure it out! Love reading it though!


Karen Ratzlaff August 24, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I just checked my work email to see if one of the Sisters in Brazil sent us an update…nothing yet, but I’d be happy to forward it to you if something does come in.

So glad you’re enjoying my blog!


Dana Lichty August 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Michele — This is such important and distressing news from Brazil. Although our courts appear to be much “fairer,” I read an article recently in MORE (of all places) about wrongly imprisoned innocent people in the U.S. and the brave lawyers and family members who work tirelessly for their release. I’m not sure we are doing so well in seeking justice here either. Thank you for keeping these issues in our hearts and minds.



Michele Michele August 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm

Thanks Dana. I really fear that we are more and more subject to injustices here too. I guess my idealism is being tempered by the times and perhaps…the wisdom of age!


Marianna Crane August 26, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Not good news that the man who masterminded the murder of Dorothy Stang was released. Makes one so jaded with the unfairness and inequality in our world.


Carol Henderson August 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Please let us know when you hear from any of the nuns in Brazil. Is there outrage? Are people protesting on the streets? Doesn’t sound like it.

How disgraceful that this thug is on the streets again.


Michele Michele August 27, 2012 at 6:04 pm

I think the people who really care about this injustice are worn out and their day to day lives are hard enough. However, I will let you, my readers, know when we know more. So far there is little more than this news.


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