The "settlers' revolt" of 1957
Capanema’s inhabitants descend from immigrants looking for fertile land. But as they finally found it, a lumbering company tried to take it away from them. With the “settlers’ revolt” of 1957 the smallholders however managed to drive their powerful opponent out.
The inhabitants of Capanema can look back on an eventful history. They mostly descend from German and Italian immigrants who left their homes in the end of the 19th century hoping for a parcel of fertile land of their own. In Brazil they were welcome, since this big, sparsely populated country lacked manpower after the ban of the slave trade in 1888.
In connection with its expansionist policies the Brazilian government founded the “National Agricultural Colony General Osório”, in short CANGO, in 1943. It aimed at the settlement of a 60 km wide strip of land running along the Argentinean border in the state of Paraná.
The foundation of Capanema in 1952
Descendants of the mentioned European immigrants – also looking for a piece of fertile land of their own – settled down with the CANGO in the Southwest of Paraná. The settlers received apart from the land free seeds and building materials. Moreover, CANGO built streets, schools and mills. 1952 the municipality of Capanema was founded in the scope of the settlement project.
As a result of unsolved ownership relations the settlers of CANGO however did not receive any documents confirming the land as their property. This posed a problem during the 1950ties when different lumbering firms illegally bought the property documents for the already populated lands and they forced the settlers to pay taxes. The companies did not refrain from imposing their demands with force. This led to looting, arson and murders in the course of which the settlement administration waited in vain for the authorities to interfere; the authorities supported the lumbering firms.
The settlers’ revolt
The situation got worse and in 1957 the settlers started to organise armed resistance against the overpowering firms. In Capanema about 2000 farmers occupied the headquarters of the city council. Often the townspeople declared their solidarity with the farmers and in October 1957 the rebels succeeded to drive the representatives of the firms out of the entire region.
This “settlers’ revolt” finally secured the property rights for the lands of the farmer families in Capanema. But again the organic farmers' livelihood is being threatened. Will they as well win the battle against the lobbies of the agricultural multinationals and the farming industry?