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Portrait of a sculptor


On 17 April 2000 a Pillar of Shame was erected in front of the Parliament, on the Square of Three Powers in the Brazilian capital. The sculpture was set up in commemoration of the 19 landless peasants who were killed by the military police in the northern state of Pará on 17 April 1996.

The Pillar was mounted in co-operation with the MST (the landless peasants movement) and MPs of the opposition bloc. For two days the statue uttered an overt accusation against the ‘three powers’ (Government, Parliament and Supreme Court) who were responsible for injustice and impunity in the country.

The contentious Pillar of Shame was erected despite exacerbated resistance from the right wing and sections of the government. The Minister of Justice had stated that: “This sculpture will never be set up in front of the Brazilian Parliament.”

On 1st May the Pillar of Shame, dubbed ‘Nobel Prize of Injustice’, was set up for good in Belém, capital of the northern state of Pará, where the Eldorado massacre had taken place in connection with a land occupation.

The sculpture was set up in the wake of fierce scuffles between protestors against impunity and the police.

Despite of resistance from the elite, we stick to our promise of setting up the Pillar of Shame as a symbol opposing oppression and violence that is taking a toll of lives and depriving people of their rights, Mayor Edmilson Rodrigues declared at the inauguration.