This one is worth a thousand words

March 12, 2008

Hats off to Luis Vasconcelos for this powerful picture.

The caption says, “An indigenous woman holds her child while trying to resist the advance of Amazonas state policemen who were expelling the woman and some 200 other members of the Landless Movement from a privately-owned tract of land on the outskirts of Manaus, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon March 11, 2008. The landless peasants tried in vain to resist the eviction with bows and arrows against police using tear gas and trained dogs. REUTERS/Luiz Vasconcelos-A Critica/AE (BRAZIL)”.

Images of heavy-handed oppression really don’t come much better than this – defenceless, screaming woman clutching naked child is shoved and beaten by faceless, armoured authority.Belter

The symbols are reinforced by the strong composition. The woman and her child appear all the more vulnerable as the only elements of humanity and colour against the advancing wall of shields and boots.Such a potent image leaves very little room for any doubt. In such circumstances do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?


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A tremendously powerful image. This is an important photograph and I hope it will be seen by the world. I’m sure it will affect many.

Posted by Kit Collins | Report as abusive

great photo¡¡¡¡¡.

Manu Lozano

Serves her right she should not be there anyway!!!

Posted by True | Report as abusive


You have done it again. That is one of the most powerful photos I have ever seen.

Do you know what happened to mother and child? Is there anyway I can help?


Posted by Brandon Tautimer | Report as abusive

What a brave woman, putting her child in harm’s way like that. I bet she even had his consent to risk his life in that futile manner.

This is a lesson about private property. She has none.

Posted by Stolie | Report as abusive

“In such circumstances do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?”

You should always know the details. At least, know that the MST (Landless Movement) is a semi-terrorist organization that frequently kills farmers and land-owners, and work close to another organization which has destroyed 20 years of genetic engineering research a couple of years ago. This does not mean that what you’re witnessing in the picture is right, but it does mean that reality is much more complex than the picture shows.

In such circumstances do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?


The problem with pictures is no context. There could be a lot more to this picture.

Posted by none | Report as abusive

Very powerful

Tremendously powerful and radicalising image. Will give a significant boost to the MST in Brazil. Imagine the concern of the Brazilian Government with this image spread across two pages of today’s Guardian newspaper in the UK and I’m sure figuring in the press across the World. Good luck to the MST and their fight for the landless!

Posted by Tony Lloyd-Jones | Report as abusive

“A tremendously powerful image. This is an important photograph and I hope it will be seen by the world. I’m sure it will affect many.”

Sadly, it will affect nothing…
The powerful prey on the weak. A scenario that repeats itself time and again among animals as well as humans. You think some powerful person will see this image and have a change of heart? Keep dreaming.

Emotional, yes. Sad, yes. Frustrating, certainly. But in your own description, this woman (and her colleagues) are being evicted from “a privately-owned tract of land”. Where is the story about the person who worked hard to buy this land and then watched it get trampled and used by these squatters from the Landless Movement? Perhaps I could feel more supportive if they settled on Public Lands rather than stealing resources from another _individual_ human being.

Posted by Not Indifferent | Report as abusive

There is not much you can do to help directly. Indirectly you can help by changing you habits of consumption. The efforts against the Landless Workers Movement is mostly spurred on my large American and European corporations looking for cheap land and cheap labor in foreign countries. The only real way to distance your selves from these companies is to consume locally. Try the 100 Mile Diet. Only by Fair Trade certified products. Don’t support any company that denies its foreign workers access to unions and a living wage. American habits of consumption are the key factor in driving these mega-corporations to do all the horrible things they do.

Posted by Tom | Report as abusive

I mean, couldn’t she be protesting without putting her baby within arm’s reach of batons? I feel for her, but seriously…

Posted by Ian | Report as abusive

This is a powerful image. However, your conclusions bother me:

“do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?”

Um, yes. Yes we do.

Allowing your emotional response to an image to overwhelm your reason is precisely why propaganda works. In this photo, the story is “helpless woman oppressed by faceless regime.” In others it’s “snarling black man/muslim/etc. clearly sub-human.” In either case we most certainly “need the details.” I would suggest it’s a mistake to allow good photography to determine right and wrong.

Posted by Leadblind | Report as abusive

She has the power.

Posted by Big Al | Report as abusive

Brandon, you can help by going down there and buying her a tract of land to live on. Not only that, but you must build her shelter, and train her how to run a business or derive enough income to raise enough money for the taxes to the government. Harder than throwing a few cents a day to some charity over the telephone, huh? People have become so numerous that less and less land is available to them, and unfortunately the worth of a single individual human has become near worthless – almost seen as an infestation. I don’t really know what to do about that.

What is the point of this?
An infinite number of these type of photos exist but what good has come from them?
Why do people still vote in politicians that support such a system?

Posted by Kenneth | Report as abusive

I hope they arrested her for child endangerment.

Posted by Jesse | Report as abusive

That is just sad.

Interesting. So if one takes a clever picture, it’s no longer necessary to know the facts in order to judge the pictured event?

Personally I think it’s always necessary to know the facts in order to form a valid judgement.

It certainly is an awesome photograph, but it offers no answers, only questions. What was this woman thinking when she endangered her child this way? Does the ostensible landowner have a valid claim on the land, or was this conflict the result of some kind of collusion between the landowner and someone in local government? Why did the police use such overwhelming force?

For that matter, how many police were present? This photo shows only nine or so, but since the photo was composed such that the nine span the full width of the picture, it creates the impression that there must have been many, many more officers present. Similarly, how many other civilians were involved? We see only two, but it’s unlikely this woman and child are representative of the whole group. And what is the nature of this “Landless Movement”? Is it composed of people who have been deprived of their natural right to own property, or of those who wish to deprive others of this right?

So yeah, it’s a great photograph, but it’s also propaganda apparently designed to convey a misleading picture of events and distract attention from the real issues here.

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Posted by Peter G. | Report as abusive

This looks bad, but you don’t know what the full context is. That woman might have been trying to attack those officers with that naked baby. You don’t know.

why didn’t she just move out of the way?

Wow, Now this is a very very powerful photo. This lady is hopeless and so is the child. thanks for this great but sad image.

Wow, they were attacking police with bows and arrows and the police are restraining themselves and not shooting back. And I doubt these police with their shields rushed this one woman. What the hell is she doing with her child getting so close to these guys.

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

Clearly they are using an appropriate method to clear the space. There are far more violent alternatives and if it is true that the squatters are being evicted from private land, she should be thankful it is a wall of flesh and not cuffs and foster care.

Posted by jay | Report as abusive

I think this is a powerful image, but it was a planned protest and I can’t believe that this mother brought her child into this environment and enderaged him or her like that.

Posted by Jeremy S | Report as abusive

If the piece of private land she was squatting on was your front yard, how would you feel about her presence? If you didn’t remove her, she might eventually be able to claim ownership of your yard by law under squatter’s rights laws in some countries.

So yes, the context of the photo is absolutely needed, and anyone (like the original poster) who claims otherwise is either a fool or some other synonym for the word.

sucks for this lady, but thats what happen when you knowingly break, then resist, the law. trespassing, and then squatting, is jail worthy.

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive

Powerful image. It is a shame it is not of higher technical quality because I think you would really have had a shot at a Pulitzer.


Posted by anon | Report as abusive

THE ENTIRE POINT is that the context and specifics does not really matter.

It is a picture, a form of art, that usually exists to symbolize something.

It is what it symbolizes, and what it can offer you (and how well it does just that,) which matters.

Posted by dystisis | Report as abusive

“In such circumstances do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?”

Congratulations. You’ve just crossed the line between journalism and manipulative propaganda.

For all I know just looking at the photo, everyone in it could be a paid model. For all I know, it’s been Photoshopped. For all I know, there are a hundred people standing off to one side with “what an idiot” expressions on their faces, which would have given the image a whole new meaning before they were cropped out.

No single image tells the whole story. Most importantly, we never see the things the photographer chose to omit from the final product.

If you think pictures can’t lie, you’re sadly mistaken. If you think a powerful visual is an adequate substitute for knowing the real situation, you’re stupid.

Posted by Mike Stone | Report as abusive

I have to agree with Peter G.

I’m sure that many good, kind-hearted people will look at this image in horror. They will react emotionally. They will probably feel the desire to help the woman and her child. However, they won’t know the facts and you can’t truly have justice for all without all of the information.

This is right up there with the Tiananmen square photo of the protester standing before a tank. It’s moving because, at once we have, in a photo…the worst yet the best of the human spirit, captured in one photograph. People can be so pathetic, and yet so brave.

A well composed photo, but yes, you do need context of the situation. Approproaching any situation with that floating, contextless mentality will only end up with bad conclusions.

Wrong? By which standard? In what context?

Posted by sobokhan | Report as abusive

This deeply saddens me and ……..that’s it! So out of control…

Posted by recovery33 | Report as abusive

Why doesn’t she just, you know, move? I’m sure that line of officers isn’t like a mile long.

Posted by Zach | Report as abusive

I don’t understand why that lady is putting her child at risk by confronting armed police with an infant / toddler in her arms.

Secondly, they are on someone else’s property. I understand it may not be the most humane thing but they are squatting someone else’s property.

“In such circumstances do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?”

Wow, that’s stupid. It’s almost like you’re *asking* to be manipulated.

And to answer your question: yes, we do.

Posted by Mortimer N. Cobblepop | Report as abusive

First, MST is not semi-terrorist organizacion, second this is not context, this woman is not from a Landless movement, third this is not the state Police force. This picture is problaly in the amazon, where the “Força Nacional de segurança” (Nacional Security Force, a special federal Police Unit) is ansingment against the illegal wood extraction called “Operação Arco de Fogo” (Arc of Fire Operation) in an attempt to reduce the destruction of the florest. This woman is problaly from a family of those whom works in the wood extraction, a workmanship whose is been manipulate by local politicians and their employer to protest againt the police force presence.

Posted by Paulo Vasconcelos | Report as abusive

This woman is obiviously a victim, but not necessarialy of the police, she was throw into a situacion that she doesn’t understant, thinking she is fighting for her right to work, without the knowlegment of the ambiental awareness of the wood extraction, and don’t understand that in fact she is been manipulated. 3%A7%C3%A3o+Arco+de+Fogo&ie=UTF-8&oe=utf -8&rls=org.mozilla:pt-BR:official&client =firefox-a&um=1&sa=N&tab=wn

Sorry for the spelling flaws..

Posted by Paulo Vasconcelos | Report as abusive

Someone else owns the land. If brute force is the only way to get her off it, then so be it. I’d do the same thing to her if she walked into my house and wouldn’t willfully leave.

Posted by Aaron | Report as abusive

Out of context!

As I can see, no one but Roberto de Almeida is a Brazilian citizen, and he’s totally right! I’m Brazilian too and I know very well what the MST (the landless movement) do. They are a terrorist organizations, and uses the old fashion comunist’s strategies to disturb the public order, invade and destroy private properties and even kill people, and they need MARTYRS obfuscate the public opinion. They are not popular here in Brasil. They are not a small group of poor people who lives in the middle of the jungle, far away from the eyes of the media (TV and newspapers) and the public opinion. They are a very well organized group, which has connections with dozens of left movement around South America like Hugo Chages and Colombian terrorists FACS. They are all over Brazil. The receive money from the federal government and they are creating a University to spread their ideology throw our society.

Please, read about it! It is very important to us, Brazilians and South Americans people that everybody in the world realizes what’s going on around here!

PS: Sleep on it: What a woman with her child in her arms is doing in the front line of a brutal police force?

Posted by Daniel Lins de Albuquerque | Report as abusive

It is sad. I just watched a really interesting documentary on Current about the Amazon and how many animal species are wiped out yearly. Only about 5% of the biodiversity of the Amazon has been documented, yet a parcel the size of New Hampshire is cleared yearly, mainly for cattle grazing (yet another of the myriad reasons I don’t eat meat.) Given the large number of medicines that have natural origins in tropical life, allowing this to continue will undoubtedly result in delays in curing the world’s most pressing diseases.

Not sure if this is what the woman was protesting, but it graphically describes the futility of private citizens fighting against greedy, corrupt government and big-industry interests.

Posted by Desert Tripper | Report as abusive

awesome pic, yet it saddens me.

Roberto De Almeida: “You should always know the details. At least, know that the MST (Landless Movement) is a semi-terrorist organization that frequently kills farmers and land-owners, and work close to another organization which has destroyed 20 years of genetic engineering research a couple of years ago. This does not mean that what you’re witnessing in the picture is right, but it does mean that reality is much more complex than the picture shows.”

I think you need to do some research yourself Roberto. Wikipedia is not the best source of information on the internet. You should try and diversify your sources perhaps to get a better overall view of an issue. Just a suggestions bud :)

Posted by Blair | Report as abusive

this is insane! how can they do this to an innocent with a baby in her hand! do they have any human rights in their country ?

“Images of heavy-handed oppression really don’t come much better than this – defenceless, screaming woman clutching naked child is shoved and beaten by faceless, armoured authority.”

The author’s personal view is terribly twisting the facts. Please don’t use sensationalism to promote anything if you believe in it.

Posted by Jef David | Report as abusive

Holy Toledo
True enough, the image is propaganda. But that doesn’t change the image or the story behind it. It becomce propaganda when people do not bother to know the story. It exists because someone had a camera at a time & place where something was happening, not because someone set up a staged shot.
Endangering her baby? What the? Are all of you on drugs? What, was she supposed to leave the baby at the local day care center???
My God I think most of the world is insane but that takes the cake. You do not know. So instead of acting as if you DO, why not act as if you don’t?
Indigenous peoples do not OWN land. That is the whole point. They live on the land and they move around and they don’t try to own it. So where is it that you think they should go? The only comments here that make sense are ones that confront the idea that this is too large an issue to figure out in a blog post. But that doesn’t make the picture bad or good. It only emphasizes the need for more people to actually care what is going on in the world around them. And to the people in that world.
What would be powerful would be to have a serious journalist at the side of teh cameraman to provide an in-depth background story for the viewing audience.
Child endangerment, yeah, that’s it… Good grief. I think the idea of the woman attacking the dudes with shields and boots with her naked baby is more plausible, frankly. Or are you thinking she should just have given THEM the baby so it could be “safe”? How exactly would she NOT have the baby in her arms based on who she is and her status in the world? A nany perhaps??? What on earth are you people thinking?
What I love about that idea actually, is that it is the perfect new world answer: babies are to be protected, but their mothers can be shot or run down with tanks, no problem… and IF they happen to have a baby with them when that is happening, well, by all means, blame them for “child endangerment”. Now that is spectacularly brilliant. Babies and puppy dogs. oh, and kittens, don’t forget kittens…

Posted by Eesa | Report as abusive 4
the 2nd picture in that link gives more than the picture here.

Posted by anonymous | Report as abusive

I do think this is horrible pic and a horrible way to try to say something about the situation if you dont know what the LANDLESS MOVEMENT IS. Imagine you buy land… Its yours… You dont want to develop it, it’s STILL YOURS right? So, how would you feel if 100, or 1000 people just invade it and start to develop the property you bought with your money? Think about it before make any judgment.

Posted by Livia Eaton | Report as abusive

She’s being evicted off of private property she is trying to steal with the other members of the landless movement. Somebody worked hard to buy that land, she has no right to steal it. Good riddance.

Posted by Jenson Button | Report as abusive

Because that could never happen in the USA.

Oh wait, it just did. ontent/south/epaper/2008/03/12/0312vouch ers.html

If this picture is worth a thousand words (and it is a powerfully moving picture) then where are the words? Yes, I know the colloquialism is meant another way, but there HAS to be a story here worth telling. If it is the one the picture is portraying of state violence, rejection of human right and intentional endangering of a helpless child and its mother, then tell it and make the picture all that more powerful. If the story contradicts the power of the picture then the picture is false propaganda until put in its correct context. Either way speak the truth and then do something about it besides inflaming emotional reactions without backing it up.

Posted by the_vor | Report as abusive

The picture is given without the context of the story.

Why would you be anywhere near riot squads with your child?! MORON!! I have no remorse

Posted by daddyt | Report as abusive

She needs to stop crying and move.

Posted by Billy | Report as abusive

one word: wow,
Almost looks staged in its composition

This symbolizes oppression worldwide. The Burmese and the Tibetans must be going through similarly.

“In such circumstances do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?”

ABSOLUTELY. No matter how compelling an image is, it does not tell the entire story. In order to make an informed judgment, you need to be able to put the image into the proper context. To do that, you need more information about what is going on.

Posted by Zaphod | Report as abusive

Powerful picture that was not taken by an environmentalist.
Amazon deforestation affects the whole world, but is also a livelihood for many people.
Not sure how to balance the interests of feeding people and rainforest preservation.

Posted by hoyleysox | Report as abusive

How can anybody own any part of Earth? You can own only what you made with your own hands which is also doubtful because you need materials produced by Nature (God) to make anything, even a child. This “civilization” will end like many similar before.

Posted by Robi | Report as abusive

Truth is, that woman has every unalienable right to protest the destruction of her natural home. The focus is not on the photo because what the photo has is more than obvious, but what the photo represents, what it’s trying to communicate should be the focus.

First thing, the Amazon being the last large reserve of oxygen the Americas (not the world) have and representing over half of the worlds remaining rain forest, the idea of tearing more of it down is already preposterous.

Second, that woman is doing whatever she can to stop major corporations from buying the land she lives in. As a human being, she has that natural right to keep and fight for her home.

“You should always know the details. At least, know that the MST (Landless Movement) is a semi-terrorist organization that frequently kills farmers and land-owners, and work close to another organization which has destroyed 20 years of genetic engineering research a couple of years ago. This does not mean that what you’re witnessing in the picture is right, but it does mean that reality is much more complex than the picture shows.”

The Landless movement should be considered, in any way, a terrorist organization. It is merely defending its right to keep its home. It may target people who are, without consent, violating protection laws and their native lands. Should any company, governmental body/organization or anything related want to initiate some sort of action, diplomacy should be enforced, as they would with any other nation. So why won’t they? (I’ll answer that: Because the MST won’t be recognized as a power and they’ll be trampled over.)

Posted by Ferdinand Henry | Report as abusive

I don’t have even one word to say on this picture… It freezes mind.

I hope that the woman was beaten, arrested, and had her child taken away from her by the authorities for child endangerment.

This is one of the most shameful acts I’ve ever seen performed by a protester…using their own child as a shield against the authorities.

How could someone do something like that and how could anyone even remotely think that she is deserving of ANY sympathy?

Posted by Randall Flagg | Report as abusive

Some of the disgusting responses (for example: “she deserved it”, “how could she have put her baby in such danger”, etc) are proof of the poverty of bourgeois society with its ‘private’ property. Truly despicable.

Posted by Zack | Report as abusive

I feel for the woman absolutely but you can not judge this situation by a single photo and skewed media reperesentation. By what i read it sounds like these people were illegal squaters on privately owned land and were refusing to leave in accordance with the law. Maybe they brought this on themselves. I am not saying that is the case but from this sole article and one picture how can we make a judgement?

Posted by Brian | Report as abusive

Is there anyway to find out if they are okay, maybe a follow up story, with more info on the conflict?

Posted by Jesse Smale | Report as abusive

does it look like the swat team belongs there? (tropical background)

Posted by Bovice | Report as abusive

Just a quick one for Zack, if someone started squatting on your front lawn what would you do??? you would probably call the police and have them removed, this is the same situation! She shouldn´t be there she doesnt own the land and if force was needed then she was out of order.

Posted by True | Report as abusive

How unbelievable….So many cowards in the world. None are men enough to show their faces

Posted by Betsy | Report as abusive

Though the title of the post is cliche the picture is definately not. It speaks volumes….

Posted by Diana Ngila | Report as abusive

I saw this few days ago in my local paper.hope this photo will win many awards :D

Check out the club coming from the shields right above her head :-p. Bonk lol.

Posted by James | Report as abusive

Well done Luiz Vasconcelos and Reuters for a materpiece of a centre page spread in the Guardian March 13th 2008 (Manaus, Brazil). Just brilliant. Geoff Ryan

Posted by Geoff Ryan | Report as abusive

I have read many of your comments on this
picture, many of you have called this woman
brave aswell as saying that the picure saddens
you. Im sure the lady realised that squatting there
would result in her being removed and if we where
to be honest with each other putting her child
in that situation is not very brave is it??

Posted by True | Report as abusive

it evokes so much compassion. very moving.

Posted by Jess | Report as abusive

thats so sad

Posted by someone | Report as abusive

Admittedly, I have not read through all of the comments which came up since I first looked at this post, so pardon if I’m reiterating what someone else said.

As a reporter it is important to acknowledge how photographs can paint a story, true. But politics aside, this image shows a single, simple scene, and it conveys the emotion of THAT ONE SCENE amazingly well.

And, most importantly to myself as a photographer, it is an amazing photograph.

Posted by Skyler Reid | Report as abusive

what are the simultaneous informative and expressive levels of meaning within this image?

Posted by sonia | Report as abusive

Eesa, you have it so wrong, you’re so far off the point and so ignorant of the environment where this happened and of the political and social circumstances, I don’t even know where to begin. In fact, I won’t.

Yes, the Landless not only are a semi-terrorist group, they have been linked over and over again with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, a full blown terrorist group. And by linked I don’t mean “talked about in the same sentence”, I mean drug money and guns back and forward between the two groups.

She’s a martyr, all right. One of those martyrs used by these very humanitarian organizations to promote their cause through sensationalist media and by causing guilt on well fed Europeans who will weep and ask “is there a way find out if they are ok?”, but not bother to read up on the whole issue.

Posted by Vivien | Report as abusive

great photo, so what? sure it means something to you and me, as we are of a culture that values human life and human rights, but you don’t really have the same attitude here and you can’t really impose tthese values on people who have no interest in them, really.

unfortunately, little can be done to lessen these situations here in Brasil. The government and the wealthy individuals that run this country have no incentive to change their system or practices. It is a very corrupt and established caste system that uses the population for their own benefit without regard for their welfare or the value of human life. little support and infrastructure for the country’s population is provided, i.e education, healthcare, roads, sanitation, etc. It looks like a beautiful country, with happy, compassionate and caring people (and many are), but live here for a while and you will see the real Brasil, a third world country with tremendous resources controlled by a few families and million of poor people with no chance of an improved quality of life ever! Why do you think a majority or the great brasilian athletes live in Europe?

unless you take the money and power away from those in control and reprogram the minds of the brasilian people, nothing will ever change. so good luck.

Posted by wayne smith | Report as abusive

This is amazing. The issues I think I have are nothing in comparison. At least someone is documenting these events and leaving no cover for the perpetrators of this act.

I see the woman holding on to the shield of one of the policemen. Why is she doing that? Why is she not running away, especially since she has a baby in her arms. She is obviously able to stand up, and there doesn’t appear to be any injuries stopping her from running away, so why is she standing there, not moving, with a baby in her arm, holding onto the shield of the policeman?

Furthermore, the woman looks as if she’s refusing to move. The police on the left side of the picture are more advanced than the police behind the women, which seems as if she’s pushing back against the police.

While I do believe that there are many things wrong in their society that needs to be created, and feel sympathy for the landless people, I’m also aware that the police in the photo were following out orders and enforcing the right to personal property, and they were using nonlethal weapons and had recently been attacked by people using possibly lethal weapons.

Posted by james | Report as abusive

my question for this image is .. WHY is that woman doing that? it is pretty obvious that those guys don’t mean any harm , those are riot cops, with shields for DEFENSE. they don’t SPRINT after people as a group and slam into them with their shields, obviously the lady stood there and refused to move for them, putting herself and that naked baby in danger

Posted by austin | Report as abusive

Yes very powerful. Not sure why grown men would feel a need to assault this woman. In a civilized society if she was squatting (land grabbing) she would have been handcuffed and taken to jail if she kept refusing to leave the private property.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive

They should really move out of the way. That does not look like abuse, it looks like irresponsible parenting.

Posted by billy | Report as abusive

Alrighty, I’m going to go ahead and say it…we DON’T know what’s happening in this photo. It’s not a video. What we can see is that the woman isn’t fleeing and the soldiers aren’t running after her. Except those on the far left, they seem to be mostly standing still.

Her hand is against the back side of one of their shields – shields that they are using because, as stated, there were arrows being shot at them.

Everything seems to point to this woman pushing back against the soldiers, which in my opinion makes this an even better photo. She’s not fleeing in fear of a militant invader. She’s fighting back against a group of men who are more than likely from similar cultures and out of a necessity for income and assimilation must follow orders that maybe even they don’t agree with.

The picture is powerful…but that’s where it stops. It’s not a platform for building a message or fighting some cause because we DON’T KNOW what’s actually happening.

Just saying.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive

No one is rigth so far.
This woman is an Indian during an invasion. They (she and other indians) invaded a land where they will build a dam for eletricity generation. It’s unbelievable that none brazilian said that before in the comments. The conflit is still going on at the Xingu. Recently an indian attacked an engineer with a knife.
In time, MST is no terrorist. Maybe comunists, but no terrorists. There are no charges agains them for killing anybody and, in the other hand, more than one time they we’re attacked and killed by farmers’ guard and even the police.

The wrongness here has nothing to do with her reasons for being there or their reasons for evicting her and her baby. The wrongness is in the completely disproportionate response and the self-exculpatory ‘just-order-following’ rationales of the vile, inhuman troglodites who order and enforce any policy that could possibly result in such a photo being taken. Make no mistake: this is a photo of terrorism.

Posted by willie | Report as abusive


Posted by Bob Saget | Report as abusive

hmmm… heavy handed oppression or a woman actively resisting authorities and needlessly endangering her child?

Posted by Trevor | Report as abusive

first of all, a lot of you are assuming that land ownership is a right to begin with. who gave ANYONE the right to own a piece of the earth we live on? no one did! greedy pigs, the lot of you.

“oh…they’re squatting on someone else’s land”

boo-friggin’ hoo. shouldn’t have been so god damn stupid as to buy dirt to begin with…then no one can “take that away” by squatting on it.

get over yourselves.

So, uh, when her “indigenous” husband and his “indigenous” pals clear 1000 hectares of “indigenous” rain forest, you’re cool with that? Do you warm to the idea? While I don’t think shielded soldiers are need to control this woman, (so yeah it’s “wrong”) I can’t see outside the frame, who else is there, or what focal length lens is being used, with her being 200 feet in front of them, frightened but still able to get out of the way..

Posted by More Info Needed | Report as abusive

Wow. The picture is indeed moving, though what’s fascinating is less how moving the photo than how rarely news journalists concentrate on the problems of the indigenous, the impoverished, and the landless.

Even more distressing is the astonishing number of hateful, angry comments here on this board, some of which are undoubtedly from members of Brazil’s hateful, racist ruling class. Are you seriously accusing this woman and her child of terrorism? Are you seriously accusing her of child endangerment?

If you have no clue about the MST or the Landless Peasants Movement, perhaps you imagine she is ‘choosing’ to fight these thugs for her pleasure, and she went home to a bourgeois house like yours and relaxed in front of her television?

People have a right to food, shelter, healthcare, and security. That’s not a political broadside, but a statement of fact under international law (heard of the U.N.?) This woman clearly has none of those things, and the right wingers here are taking the side of guns, shields, jackboots, and power over the side of unarmed women, starving children, and impoverished men, all of whom are far braver than the thugs in the picture, or ANY OF US commenting here.

I agree that it is a powerful photo, especially with all those faceless officers, but nevertheless, she’s not supposed to be there.

I have no sympathy.

Posted by Rikushix | Report as abusive

Wow, upon reading these comments, I am once again reminded of how bigoted and soul-less so many Americans are.

Posted by Elizabeth | Report as abusive

Here’s an idea…get off land that doesn’t belong to you…another idea, don’t hold your kid when you decide to attempt blocking a wall of police who are just doing their job…..evicting trespassers.

Its a nice picture and all but has anyone considered that the baby could be a fire bomb and that she is about to blow up all those innocent soldiers? I think we can all learn an important lesson about taking things at face value.

Posted by Mycroft Holmes | Report as abusive

I would like to respond to the “You can’t steal private property” argument.

Yes stealing land is terrible.

So is genocide.

It’s also terrible if your parents, grand parents, and your great great grand parents stole land and handed it down to you or someone that looks like you.

One person argued that it isn’t fair for a group of people to steal something for which someone else worked really hard.

I think thats a great argument if you add some historical context to it.

The majority of land owners in Brazil did not in fact “pull themselves up by their own bootstraps”, work hard in a factory and eventually earn enough to buy a plot of land. This isn’t a middle class story about being a self made citizen. Land was taken at gun-point, and handed down through the generations, or handed off to big industry. It is indisputable that the poverty of the landless is a direct result of past and present injustices.

So what’s fair? A few rich people/corporations having small amounts of land taken away that they in no way deserve to have in the first place, or the picture?



Posted by jacko | Report as abusive

“do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?”

Yes, you do. Furthermore, I’d be surprised if you didn’t call the cops yourself if you had 200 squatters on your lawn.

Posted by haelduksf | Report as abusive

All you commenters saying she should be arrested for putting the kid in harms way….you have no idea what life is like for the poor in third world countries. Constant police action against the poorest, willy-nilly with no consistency or reference to law at all. I’m appalled at the naivete shown here…you all should get out a bit more…too bad flying is getting so expensive….traveling and seeing Brazil (or any third world place) would broaden so many horizons here.

Posted by third world | Report as abusive

You all seem obsessed with the facts vs the apparent context. I think the publisher of the image hit the nail on the head, instantly. What is inarguable is the faceless, clearly malicious, strength thrown against this woman.

Deciphering more is to put one’s own views in, and that is called spin.

Know the facts? Who cares – what system, where the rule of law prevails and human rights are sacred, would ever employ such a method? Look at modern-day England – nothing like this could ever happen.

Before you say too quickly she’s part of a terrorist organisation or campaign, remember Nelson Mandela – he educated the world that maybe it’s correct and appropriate to fight hard for your rights.

So for all of you that don’t slam the forces behind the oppression: shame on you, and may your wicked thinking weave its way into unfortunate events for you in the future.

Posted by Walter Billington | Report as abusive

It is easy to an European to call the Landless movement ‘semi-terrorist’, the poors as ‘squatters’ and to say one has the right to defend the ownership (property).
You will not understand couse in your Countries, the Agrary Reform was done since Centuries, it was already by you, not so in South America.
You can not, and will not understand why the owners are named ‘Coronel’ without beeing Military. They were robbing the Land since Centuries! They did not buy any land, they occupied it. And not little, but in millions of Hectares, each.

To the numbers: government owned land
– 1950: 80% of 8 Billions of square Kilometers
– 2000: 40% of 8 Billions of square Kilometers (Mostly Amazonas now).

But interesting: The government never, ever sold land!
Digg for the word ‘Grileiro’, and maybe you could see the picture!

Violence against the Landless are crime!
Viva o movimento dos Trabalhadores rurais do Brasil

Posted by Marlon | Report as abusive

I don’t know anything about the landless movement, but I doubt most of the posters do either, and it is in that spirit that I respond:

Damn, what disgusting capitalist sentiment in the comments here. I believe in free markets too, but not at the expense of all compassion. You are like the cops in some cities, harassing the homeless wherever they happen to be: public property, private property, developed or undeveloped, it doesn’t matter because no matter where they are, they don’t own the land. How dare a person that cannot afford land go to sleep anywhere! What are those “terrorist” homeless people thinking?

Powerful. It will not be seen in the United States as Brazil is too strong an ally to the West. We will continue to ignore such atrocities as usual and our leaders will continue to wonder “why do they hate us?”

Posted by Levi | Report as abusive

MST is so NOT a terrorist organization. They are a movement that does do things like “squat” on land that isn’t being used, and use it for farming or self sustaining. These are people that have no homes and are largely shut out from the urban cores of Brazil, and are doing anything they can to survive. As a movement, there have been tiffs between the police and them when they raid encampments trying to force people to go some where else, but I can assure the police always are the ones who are injuring people and leaving behind a body count. For many of these people, the MST is the only voice and political organization, and source of food there is.

Anyone who has been to Brazil knows that it is a highly divided society, and it has built literal walls between the rich and poor segments.

Finally, for those people talking about stealing land, land in brazil, particularly in acre and amazonas is getting stolen by large companies in Brazil and abroad and being re-appropriated for there own use. If there is a rule of law, it is unilaterally being applied to people who can afford to wield the system.

Posted by dmh | Report as abusive

“It is easy to an European to call the Landless movement ’semi-terrorist’”

(Sorry for the broke english I will use.)

I am brazilian and it´s easy to me also call the MST (Landless movement) a ‘semi-terrorist’ movement.

I am son of a farmer and I a saw a neighbor of our farm being invaded by the MST. My neighbor’s farm wasn’t a big farm and wasn’t unproductive by any means. The MST stole my neighbor cattle, his house and destroyed his truck and tractos before some judge send the police to help him.

A lot of those ‘landless guys’ were known criminals from the closer city and a lot of others were only poor people the MST recruit on the favelas (that have 99,99% of urban persons who simply don’t know how to raise vegetables of take care of farm animals).

Another stuff a saw with my own eyes is how fast the MST people sells the land the goverment give then. I saw a farmer from nearby my dad’s farm, literally double his lands by buying more lands from the ‘landless’ (much of then engage at the MST again, seeking for raise the money with the next land).

I’m a son of a farmer and I am pro land distribution reform, as well my dad, but it must be made by the right channels, not by ‘semi-terrorist’ acts.

Another little thing I think you don’t know, the MST tortured and killed a police captain in the northeast region here in Brazil, their former-leader was on jail by some murders too. They are involved with hundreds of other murders, property robbering, vandalism and other crimes. The MST is in truth a kind of proto-FARC from Brazil, we really worry about the evolution of that.

Posted by Gustavo | Report as abusive

“In such circumstances do we need to know the details of the dispute to have any doubts that what we are witnessing is wrong?”

Not giving us any details whatsoever makes this an extremely IRRESPONSIBLE article!
I’m not going to even try to give an opinionated comment on a photo that is 500% out of context on this page.

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive

powerful indeed. the image is not threatening to the governments, corporations and the wealthy elite because it blatantly exposes the inhumane injustices they inflict on the women, children and people of the world.

this women didn’t put her child in danger. it is the government and wealthy, corporate-privatizing-fat-cat-greedy individuals who harm, displace, impoverish, steal, and mass murder million of people all around the world.

out of the 6.4 billion people in the world, half live on less than $2 a day. one-fourth of the world live on less than $1 a day. 70% of those living on less than a dollar a day are women.

the landless movement along with the other oppressed people of the world have a right to live a life with justice, dignity and freedom of violence.

Posted by makibakagal | Report as abusive

“is there something I can do?”
Yes, vote with your money: buy mainly things from your own country; buy fair trade stuff; try to keep an ecological life and most important…
stop wasting resources!
We, westerners are the direct or indirect cause of problems in most countries.

Posted by twopeak | Report as abusive

Wow. Amazing photo. To anyone that has blamed this woman for her actions. She’s doing this because she’s desperate. Where is she meant to leave her defenceless child whilst she’s being evicted from land? Why is she squatting on private land in the first place? Because 2/3rds of the arable (land that has potential for planting crops) land in Brazil is owned by 3% of the population.

So 97% of the population are forced to share 30% of the land.

Some people may call the MST Terrorists, I’d call them Revolutionaries.

Posted by Itsumishi | Report as abusive

It’s easy to blame victims. One doesn’t have to look at their own privilege at the expense of others.

This photo could have been taken anywhere in the developing world. As the young father of five former guerilla turned fourth grade teacher in Guatemala told me last week, “Business is the government, the government is business. It’s all the same.”

So who speaks for the people? There is a reason people become guerrilas.

Posted by Harry Coverston | Report as abusive

This photo is incredible. I didn’t knew that reuters has it’s own blog.

How could she? Shes not supposed to be there! “Protesting!” and with her baby. Why didn’t she prearrange a baby sitter?? lulz
Im sure she has MTV Tr3s for the sitter to watch?? Why cant she just move somewhere else. Or buy her own 500 hectares of land. This land was bought by someone else. duh. Its not like she has any natural right to live on the land where her ancestors and genetic makeup have been for millennia. Before a foreign human virus came to proclaim and instate the idea of “private property” Plus, she is a “terrorist” or at least part of a group of people who realize that the only way to stop a violent, oppressive, and militarized force, is through the systematic use of tactics, that by some, are deemed as “terrorism”.
Maybe she could just rant about it on her blog???

“Where is the story about the person who worked hard to buy this land and then watched it get trampled and used by these squatters from the Landless Movement? Perhaps I could feel more supportive if they settled on Public Lands rather than stealing resources from another individual human being.”

This comment is so ludicrous that I think it may be a joke, but I’m going to treat it as though it is someone’s actual opinion. Any land that was “purchased” by anyone was at one time stolen from indigenous Brazilians. Period. The natives are the rightful “owners” of the land, although “stewards” may be a better choice of words, since indigenous people traditionally have no concept of ownership or individual property.

Posted by Emily | Report as abusive

I cannot imagine what would drive me to gather the courage to do what this woman did. Amazing image.

Genetic engineering is WRONG. Beating a defenseless a woman is WRONG. Genetic engineering is violence against nature and humanity. It is wrong to destroy research. It is wrong to destroy nature. VIOLENCE IS WRONG AND NEVER JUSTIFIABLE. No matter what side you are on.

“How can anybody own any part of Earth? You can own only what you made with your own hands which is also doubtful because you need materials produced by Nature (God) to make anything, even a child. This “civilization” will end like many similar before.”

No, Robi, not like many before. The end of this civilization will be so much worse than anything that’s been recorded by man. Blame overpopulation and complete lack of regard for this bubble which is all that supports us.

My main question to all you “conservatives” (as in, I conserve everything for myself) is: how many Brazilians who work hard have enough money to buy land? It’s a near universal truth that those who work hardest cannot climb out of poverty. Unless you call sitting in an office where your dad got you a job “hard work”. Even in the US, that’s pretty much a bad joke.

Go get a soul.

Posted by lolo | Report as abusive

photographs really talk about reality and touch lives.

I think that the photo is great. However, merely looking at the picture and then assuming that one can easily judge the morality of the situation is ridiculous. Yes, the photo is dramatic. Yes, there is text-book juxtaposition. But to say that the picture proves that squatters should be allowed to take what is not theirs makes no sense.

It is too bad that Brazilian laws do not aid the Landless Movement more adequately so that they do not need to break the law. But they are. This is simply a picture of one woman (of many) involved in a large scale eviction.

In response to the original question, “do we need to know the details to know that this is wrong?”, the answer is Yes! Would you have faith in the fairness of a court decision if you knew the judge was never present for the trial? Maybe, the picture in question is of a human right violation or maybe of a severe lack of empathy but to judge that we need not question the circumstances is blatant naivety.

Posted by Capt. Dallas | Report as abusive

This photo is stunning! And unfortunatelly it depicts very well what’s going on in Brazil. I sincerelly hope to see this extraordinary photography among the awarded ones when they decide which is the best picture of the year, at the Grand Prix of Photo-Journalism competition.

Posted by Josh Silva | Report as abusive

The photo is great. But i feel sorry with that woman and her child

By viewing this photo zhe first thing I asked myself was “What has happend to this woman and her little child after taking that photo?” Can anybody tell me?

Posted by Thomas Rausch | Report as abusive

agree on this, I think you don’t need to have a caption, because images speaks to itself.

The land owner exploits the land according to regulations, leaving 60% of the original rain forest in place. The invading MST cut down large parts of the forest, thus forcing the authorities to take measures to avoid criticism from countries that cut down their own forests hundreds or even thousands of years ago. Dramatic photo but not depicting what really happened. Countless efforts have been made to offer these groups vacant lands that they can exploit, but they insist on invading the most productive and lucrative, fully equipped plantations. Also, you can hire these groups if you are in project development. They will secure ownership (after 5 years of occupation) and take care of environmental issues (maximum construction %) for you. No government wants to be associated with photos like above, so they are mostly left alone. Good business!

Posted by Marcos | Report as abusive

Pictures speak louder the words and captions and mothers are stronger then those will, Thanks Reuters

Posted by DubaiHotels | Report as abusive

Picture paints a thousand words wedding photography san diego me

Posted by newey200 | Report as abusive

When the first person who thought of building a fence and placed it around his home to form a perimeter that was when the first land was stolen from all others,and the age of ownership and greed came into the world.

Posted by samurai8 | Report as abusive

We should not forget that the native brazilians were there first and that the brazilian government is one of the most corrupt institutions in the world and the interest of the the big corporations will always come first.

Posted by maronati | Report as abusive