The Civil Police concluded, this Thursday (16), that Bernadete Pacifico, leader of ialorixá and quilombola, was killed on the orders of a drug trafficking leader in the Quilombo Pitanga dos Palmares region, in Simões Filho, region metropolitan area of Salvador.
In total, six people were indicted for this crime, five for the murder of Mãe Bernadete and a sixth for illegal possession of a weapon, according to the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Bahia (MP-BA). One of the accused and executors is on the run.
During the press conference organized by the civil police, delegate Andréa Ribeiro, responsible for investigations, declared that the quilombola leader was legitimized by the community and played an important role in the defense of local interests and that, confronted with the interests of the drug trafficking, she ended up being murdered.
Illegal logging and drug trafficking
According to the civil police, a resident of the quilombo, identified as Sérgio, is the instigator of the crime. He had discussions with Bernadette after she spoke out against illegal logging in the region he was part of. Sérgio then deduced that she was the author of a previous complaint, which had resulted in the seizure of illegal timber in the region.
After the discussion, Sérgio informed the region’s drug trafficking bosses, Murilo dos Santos, the “Maquinista”, and Ydney Carlos, the “Café”, that Bernadete could disrupt the drug trafficking work, as she attracted the police in the area. . .
Investigation also revealed that the drug dealers set up a tent called “Pitanga Point”, where they traded drugs in the area.
Faced with the threat, they ordered the executioners, identified as Arielson, arrested in Araçás (BA), and Josevan, a fugitive, to invade Bernadette’s house. The Quilombola leader was killed by twenty-five gunshots on August 17 of this year.
The accused were charged with aggravated homicide for base motives, in a cruel manner, with use of a firearm and without the possibility of defending the victim, according to the MP-BA. The agency concluded that Mother Bernadette died because she was fighting drug trafficking.
According to the civil police, other investigations are opened into drug trafficking and land conflicts in the Quilombo region.
The quilombola leader was part of the federal government’s Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (PPDDH). In addition to the armed escort, the quilombo headquarters of Pitanga dos Palmares, where she lived, was monitored by security cameras.
A CNNLeandro Silva, the family’s lawyer, noted that some cameras did not work and that the quality of the equipment made it difficult to analyze the images.
The Ministry of Human Rights had proposed that members of Bernadette’s family change their identities, in order to be able to protect themselves against further criminal actions against the family.
The defense rejected the proposal, saying such a radical identity change would result in the severing of community ties and meet the criminal group’s goals of demobilizing the Quilombola community.
In early November, the family of the Quilombola leader hired a private expert to examine the results of the examination and the death report carried out by the Bahia civil police.
Who was Mother Bernadette
Bernadete Pacifico led the National Coordination of Quilombos (Conaq) and, according to a statement issued by the entity, dedicated her life “to the preservation of the culture, spirituality and history of her people.”
In the text, Conaq recalls that the assassination of Binho do Quilombo, the leader’s son, remains unanswered, like the homicides committed against other Quilombola leaders. “Injustice adds another victim of violence faced by those who dare to raise their voices to defend our ancestral rights,” he said.
“Mother Bernadette, now silenced, was a shining light in the fight against discrimination, racism and marginalization. She worked on the front lines to solve the murder case of her son Binho and courageously faced every adversity a black mother may face in the pursuit of justice and in defending the memory and dignity of her son.
Under the direction of Marcos Rosendo