Changing times for Brazil's landless By Gary Duffy BBC News, Sao Paulo state A small hut with a red flag flying above it marks the start of the Elizabeth Texeira camp in the heart of the countrys
In 1984, our country was going through an intense period of social struggles. A context of popular struggles for the end of the military dictatorship, with widespread mobilizations.
João Pedro Stedile In January 1984, there was a process of re-ascension of mass movements in Brazil. The working class was reorganizing, accumulating organic forces. Underground parties, such as the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), the Communist Party of Brazil, etc., were in the streets. We had achieved a partial amnesty, but the majority of the exiles had returned. The Worker's Party (PT), the Central Workers' Union (CUT) were taking shape, as well as the National Congress of the Working Class (CONCLAT) promoted by the communists, which later merged into the CUT. Broad sectors of the Christian churches broadened their beaver-like efforts, to keep building consciousness and nucleos de base (1) in defense of the poor, inspired by liberation theology. There was enthusiasm everywhere, because the dictatorship was being defeated and the Brazilian working class was on the offense; fighting and organizing. The peasants in the countryside lived in that same climate, amidst the same offensive. Between 1979 and 1984 dozens of land occupations were carried out throughout the country. The posseiros (2), the landless, salaried country-dwellers, lost their fear. And they fought. They did not want to migrate to the cities like bullocks to the slaughterhouse (in the words of our dear Uruguayan poet Zitarroza). As the fruit of all that, we met in Cascabel, in January 1984, encouraged by the pastoral work of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), leaders of the land struggle in 16 Brazilian states. And there, after 5 days of debates, discussions, collective reflections, we founded the MST: the Landless Workers Movement.
More than 600 people attended the award ceremony, which on significant dates is conferred on people who stood out in defense of peasant struggles, agrarian reform, and a socialist society. The “Struggle for Land” Prize was awarded on January 24, 2015 at the Florestan Fernandes National School in Guararema (SP). The award was last given in 2009, in celebration of the MST's 25th anniversary. Now the landless share the award again to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Movement, completed in 2014.
The Federal Court of Carazinho (RS) [Ed. the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul] acquitted in first instance MST militants Antonio Isaias Vedovatto Silvio Luciano dos Santos, Edemir Fransisco Valsoler, Moroso Ivan de Oliveira, Vladimir Maier and supporters of the Movement, Arno Maier and Jandir Celso eight years after the opening of a case, which was based on an illegal file, done at the request of then Colonel Military Police of Rio Grande do Sul, Waldir João Cerutti Reis.
The year 2013 won’t be missed by the Landless throughout the country. Regarding the struggle for land, the balance is positive, due to the demonstrations, marches and occupations of land and public buildings that occurred almost throughout the year.
But when referring to Agrarian Reform policy, almost nothing has been done, and in many cases the government walked backwards. This is the assessment of João Paulo Rodrigues Chaves, from the national coordination of the MST, on the agrarian policy stimulated by the federal government during all of this year.
As Rodrigues stated, something that has always been bad in this government became even worse. “So far, only 159 families were settled around the country. It's a shame. There were 10 properties expropriated by the Dilma government. Worse than the last military government of General Figueiredo, when 152 properties were expropriated," he says.
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In an historic trial, a jury sentenced ruralista Mark Prochet to 15 years and nine months in prison for second degree murder, resorting to the defense that the victim was indefensible and had concealed other crimes. The trial ended around 10:00 pm and was attended by over 200 people in the 2nd Circuit Court in Curitiba, Paraná.
by Joao Pedro Stedile, National Coordination of the MST
It is usual to take advantage of the year-end period, forever doing the critical balance of losses, achievements and progress in the various sectors of activities of our society.
Unfortunately for workers who live in the countryside the balance of 2013 is anything but optimistic. Briefly we could track several defeats that the movement of capital in imposed.
The process of concentration of land ownership and agricultural production continues to accelerate and our natural resources are increasingly concentrated in the hands of fewer capitalists. There was an avalanche of foreign financial capital to control more land, more water, more plants, more agro-industries and virtually all foreign trade of agricultural commodities. And some of them are already buying up the oxygen of our forests, the famous way of carbon credit, then resold in European exchanges to permit Europe to maintain its pollution!
The Pará court condemned, at the end of the night this Thursday (September 19, 2013), the plantation owner Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura, “Bida,” to 30 years in prison, initially without being able to leave prison*, for the death of Sister Dorothy Stang, as a coauthor and instigator of the crime. The trial, the fourth conducted after a new set of lawyers, lasted more than 14 hours. The verdict was read by Judge Raimundo Moisés Alves Flexa.
Dorothy Stang was shot dead in Anapu in southwestern Pará, on February 12, 2005. According to prosecutors, she was murdered because she defended the deployment of rural settlements for workers on public lands that were contested by ranchers and loggers in the region.
The rural social movements, which held a meeting earlier this week in Brasilia, launched a manifesto in defense of agrarian reform, rural development with the end of inequality, production and access to healthy foods, for agro-ecology and ensuring expansion of social rights for rural workers.
The most representative organizations of the rural areas in Brazil considered the gathering "a historic moment, a space qualified, with leaders of major organizations in the countryside awaiting the membership and commitment to this process."
For the complete Manifesto, click here.