History

[01/17/09] MST Twenty Fifth Anniversary – “25 Years of Obstinacy,” by Joao Pedro Stedile

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.

[06/01/08] Informa #151 - Legalization of Land Grabbing

Esteemed friends of the MST, The approval of Provisionary Measure 422, Medida Provisória (MP) 422, by the federal deputies on Tuesday night, May 27, a few hours after the resignation of Marina Silva, the Ministry of the Environment, confirms that the defense of biodiversity is losing the battle against deforestation and development at whatever cost, which are defended by diverse sectors of the government. The recently approved MP 422 can be translated as the “legalization of land grabbing”. It deals with the sale of public lands of up to 1,500 hectares without bidding— broadening the limit by a thousand hectares—under the tutelage of INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform, or Instituto Nacional de Colonização e Reforma Agrária).

Lula and the Meaning of Agrarian Reform

by Cliff Welchnacla cover

[Ed. Note:  This article is from NACLA Report on the Americas, March/April 2011 and is part of a special issue on Lula’s legacy.]

Until Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s victorious 2002 campaign for president, Brazil’s Workers’ Party (PT) had consistently supported a radical definition of agrarian reform. Seen as a crucial tool for building socialism, agrarian reform would weaken the ruling class fragment that secured its power by controlling large swaths of Brazilian territory and help pave the way for the victory of a PT-controlled government. In the years before he was elected president, Lula went out of his way to participate in land occupations, marches, and forums organized by the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) and other peasant groups. He visited jailed leaders like José Rainha

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