Brazil: Elizabeth Teixeira

To have peace is to be able to see the female rural worker planting and harvesting in her own land, her family healthy and her children at school.

— Elizabeth Teixeira

Elizabeth Teixeira (1925) is a national symbol in the fight for the right to have land. When she was young, she faced prejudice from her father, a small landowner, and she ran away from home to marry a black and poor man. As an adult, mother of 11 children, she took over her husband's battle when he was murdered by powerful landowners. “My life is protesting against misery, lack of health and education, and the abandonment of the rural population.”

When Elizabeth Teixeira found her husband fallen on the road, in 1962, with the dry soil of the hinterland mixed with his blood, she held his hand and said: “I will continue your fight.” She took over the presidency of the Peasant League in the State of Paraíba, which was founded by her husband in 1958. She started to receive threats. Her ten year old son promised to avenge his father's death, in the future. He was shot in the head and was left with permanent health problems. Policemen once again surrounded the house, this time searching for Elizabeth Teixeira. When she returned from prison, she found her oldest daughter, who, at the time, was 17 years old, dead. “She drank poison.” She was not discouraged. The League became the largest in the Northeast. In 1964, with the beginning of the military regime, she returned to prison. Six months later, she was freed, but she had to run away leaving her children with her father and brothers. With her, she took a son, who was rejected by her family for being physically similar to her dead husband. They traveled to another state, where they lived with fake identifications. After 16 years, she had not received any news regarding her other nine children. She only saw them again in 1981, with the amnesty. One of her sons founded the João Pedro Teixeira Association in 1987 with his mother's support. But Elizabeth's oldest son did not accept a new peasant leader in the family. He killed his brother. She kept on participating in meetings. Today, Elizabeth Teixeira is 80 years old and lives on a small retirement pension. “I do not have any regrets. My fight will not be over until every rural worker has his or her own piece of land.”