Tuesday, May 22

Dorothy Stang: Female, Confronter of Male Power

This post is in memory of Dorothy Stang This is a photo of Dorothy Stang, a naturalized citizen of Brazil, originally from Dayton, Ohio. In 2005, at the age of 73, she was shot at point-blank range by a gunman hired to silence her voice forever. She was a nun. Her murder followed a dispute with wealthy, powerful ranchers over land they intended to clear for pasture and which she had sought to protect. The night before she was killed she had brought food and clothing to a family whose home had been burned down. The gunman shot her once as she was standing, and five more times while she was on the ground and probably already dead.

Stang had spent 30 years in Brazil, most of them in Anapu, Para, at the edge of the Trans-Amazon Highway. There she walked and worked alongside peasant people, landless and indigenous people who lived in the shadow of rich, powerful loggers and ranchers. There, she stood alongside peasants, landless and indigenous people, and small farmers in working for land reform, the rights of rural workers, and in defending the land of small farmers. There she made many enemies in high places and was hated by powerful men. Her life was repeatedly threatened, over years.

On May 15, wealthy landowner Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura was given the maximum sentence, 30 years, for being one of the masterminds of the February 2005 murder of Dorothy Stang. It is the first conviction of a member of Pará state's landed elite in a wave of killings of peasant leaders and forest defenders in recent years. There have been nearly 800 killings in land disputes, and only a few have resulted in convictions

1 comment:

Phil Urich said...

Err, I would think that she was standing mainly against the decadent wealthy landowners, instead of male power per se; this is one of the cases where merely swapping the gender would likely do little to solve the class boundaries (although vice versa might work; the elimination of the power structure would certainly help many inequalities, but we're talking a group of the affluent abusing the poor and anyone else who gets in their way, that's the issue a the core here).

Very sad to hear of so much death and so little justice. "1,237 murders linked to land disputes in Brazil between 1985 and 2001"? That's atrocious. What Dorothy Stang did, by contrast, was courageous, and one can only hope she has inspired others along the same way. The world could do with many more people like her.