Opposition deputies are the target of a government offensive at the MST CPI
In the midst of the government base’s strategy, opposition deputies have been the target of criticism and accusations at meetings of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST). The main targets of this offensive are the deputies Tentente-Coronel Zucco (Republicanos-RS) and Ricardo Salles (PL-SP), president and rapporteur of the CPI of the MST, respectively. In addition to them, deputy delegate Éder Mauro (PL-PA) is also one of the most mentioned.
Allied deputies of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) use investigations against opposition parliamentarians to confront the commission’s command and to postpone and criticize the progress of the work. Deputy Sâmia Bomfim (PSOL-SP), for example, has used regimental resources to reinforce her position against the conduct of Zucco and Salles.
Deputy Talíria Petrone (PSOL-RJ), for example, linked Salles with land grabbing, loggers and illegal mining. “The rapporteur of this Commission is accused of defrauding maps. It has to do with illegal mining,” said the Rio de Janeiro congresswoman. Talíria referred to a process in which he was accused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office of defrauding the Management Plan for the Environmental Protection Area of Várzea do Rio Tietê, when he was state secretary of São Paulo. After the accusations, Salles said he will file a complaint with the Ethics Council against Talíria.
Against Zucco, president of the CPI, deputies Valmir Assunção (PT-BA) and Sâmia Bonfim pointed to an investigation to be carried out by the Federal Police and which was authorized last week by Minister Alexandre de Moraes, of the Federal Supreme Court (STF). The investigation concerns publications made between October and November on social networks.
According to the Civil Police of Rio Grande do Sul, where the investigations began, the then state deputy would have motivated demonstrations and anti-democratic acts against the result of the elections in the publications. The case was referred to the STF after the Federal Regional Court of the 4th Region (TRF4) understood that, as Zucco was elected federal deputy, he has privileged jurisdiction.
Zucco stated, however, that this is a “political response” to his work at the head of the MST’s CPI. In a note, the president of the CPI of the MST said that this is an “attempt to ‘reheat’ an agenda already clarified a long time ago”. “Documents and videos in the public domain of the Legislative Assembly of Rio Grande do Sul demonstrate that there is no indication of involvement with any acts that threaten democracy,” he said.
“I am calm about the investigation and certain that the Federal Police will verify that no crime has taken place, as already observed by the police authority of Rio Grande do Sul. that prove necessary”, added Zucco, in a note sent to the press.
In addition to them, deputy Éder Mauro has also been the target of accusations for frequently claiming that the MST is made up of “marginals”. “We are investigating exactly the situations of a group that is not a social movement, but a movement of criminals who invade, break in, set fire to farmhouses, kill animals,” said the deputy from Pará during the CPI.
To refute the claims, Talíria referred to Mauro as a “torturer”. “Mr. president, I don’t want to be interrupted by a torturer”, said the PSOL deputy. She was referring to a case involving the then delegate Éder Mauro, which took place in 2008, but in which the deputy was acquitted, in 2016, in the Supreme Court trial. According to the action, the delegate would have allowed agents under his leadership to commit excesses. The STS, however, unanimously considered that there was a lack of evidence to prove the accused’s omission regarding the conduct of the police.
Deputies who defend the MST dominate the presentation of requests at the CPI
The government base’s offensive was also reflected in the submission of requests to the MST’s CPI. Approximately 100 were filed by commission members. Almost 70 of them are PCdoB, PSOL and PT parliamentarians. For the most part, deputies from the left – who defend the MST – intend to hold public hearings to hear people connected to the movement, but they also aim to reinforce the narratives against the CPI command.
Among the hearings proposed by left-wing parliamentarians is the name of Federal Police chief Alexandre Saraiva. He was responsible for presenting a criminal notice against Salles, rapporteur of the CPI of the MST. The complaint was made while he was in charge of the Environment portfolio in the government of former President Jair Bolsonaro (PL). After the disclosure of the complaint, Salles resigned as minister.
The application, however, does not mention what would be the delegate’s connection with the theme of the CPI. “The presence of Delegate Alexandre Saraiva will be of great value due to his experience and knowledge of the Amazon region, which has faced the rise of organized crime in recent years”, says the justification for inviting the delegate.
MST CPI work plan foresees visits to settlements and states of invasions
In the work plan presented by the rapporteur, it was established that the collegiate will act in the investigation of complaints, identification of organizers and financiers of land invasions in Brazil. The document also provides that the CPI must hold external hearings, also called diligences, to go to the states and municipalities where invasions took place this year.
Bahia is among the states that must be visited. According to data from the National Confederation of Agriculture and Livestock of Brazil (CNA), this federation unit alone recorded 17 invasions between January and April 2023. This is the highest number of invasions recorded in a single state in the period. In total, the CNA recorded 56 intrusions in ten states.
In addition, Salles highlighted that technical visits and diligences may be carried out in all states where there are settlements installed by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra).
The MST’s CPI will also seek to identify authorities that are omitting or prevaricating in relation to their legal obligations related to land invasions in Brazil. In the work plan, Salles also predicted that the members of the CPI will seek ways to compensate for the damages caused by acts of vandalism promoted during the invasions, in addition to seeking the typification of acts that may be classified as crimes. The rapporteur also pointed out that the CPI wants to identify legislative proposals with related themes that are being discussed in Congress.
Deputies who are members of the MST’s CPI will also be able to make requests to break bank, tax and data secrecy, request confidential documents from public bodies and request expertise, exams and inspections, including search and seizure.
In view of this, Congresswoman Sâmia Bomfim presented a point of order to question the document presented by the rapporteur. For the parliamentarian, the work plan presented, especially in its title, a different scope from what was presented in the application for the installation of the CPI. The original document had the following title: “Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry Destined to Investigate Invasion of Property, Depredation of Public and Private Property, and Related Crimes – CPI”.
In view of this, Salles updated the document that was published on the Chamber of Deputies website, which now contains only “CPI MST”.
Grupo Prerogativas denies the formulation of dossiers and proposes a “civility pact”
Despite the government supporters’ offensive, the lawyer leading the Grupo Prerogativas, Marco Aurélio Carvalho, sought dialogue with Salles. In the conversation, Carvalho proposed a “civility pact” in conducting research work against the Landless Rural Workers Movement. The Prerogativas Group – which brings together lawyers, public defenders and others in the field of law who support President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) and the Workers’ Party (PT) – offered support to defend the MST during the CPI.
“The idea is to try, in some way, to maintain a minimum standard of dignity, of institutionality. We will work to avoid this spectacularization of the CPI. We don’t want circus acts. We have to focus on what is a priority, which is the fight to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty”, said the lawyer.
The Prerogativas group also denied that it is formulating dossiers against deputies who are members of the MST’s CPI. “We are not looking to do that. It is not a practice with which we even agree. And, apparently, although it appeared in the press, this is not true”, said the leader of Grupo Prerogativas.