In December 27, 2017, in Santa Maria community, Maranhão state, the VII FeR (Forums and Networks of Citizenship) State Meeting took place. Around 100 activists representing each of the 21 municipalities were present. Among the present activists there was the legendary quilombola leadership Justo Evangelista, 83 years old. The landlords had put several crosses to intimidate the activists, but they were not and the combative character of the meeting was marked by the statements: “If they put ten crosses in the community lands, we will put twenty in theirs!” and “we will conquer justice; history does not fail, we will win!”

The "barracao" built for the meeting.

Maranhão is one of the poorest states in Brazil, located in the Northeast region, close to the North region, dominated by the Amazon forest in the north and covered by the barren lands in the countryside. It has a population of around 6.5 million people.

Demonstration in Santa Maria against evisction of peasants.

The outcome of the meeting was a success; none of the tasks were left unfulfilled. The production of the collective field in the community is going well, the work of popular education and alphabetization campaign is advancing, the popular canteen is going well providing cheap food products and protecting the people from the markets monopoly. Justo Evangelista told his history of struggle, as the first black councilman of Maranhão and he was “marked for death” by the landlords and was around all Maranhão running from the hired guns and henchmen, hiding in churches. He organized an armed resistance against the displacement of a community and a nearby graveyard, where many dead from Paraguay war were buried, he organized many ambushes to get the landlord's henchmen, among many other stories he told during the meeting. An analogy he used about a relative of his wife, who was left-handed and used to win many knife duels using a trick with the sheath in the right hand and the knife in the left, he told: “The law is the sheath, with it we threat, but we know it is not what decides the duel; it is our organization, which is the knife – the knife will throw the real blow to the enemy” and this phrase became a slogan. At the end of the meeting the title of People´s Doctor was given to Justo.

Justo Evangelista.

A poem was sung about the alphabetization campaign:

“I d´know to read
I d´know to read
But this year I came to learn
The world became like a scale
To weigh vengeance
To whom deserve”