[01-27-09] MST Informa #160: We Reaffirm Our Commitment to the Struggle for Agrarian Reform

In our 13th National Meeting we received the support of many friends of the Agrarian Reform movement. On the 24th, representatives from the political left, trade organizations, churches, intellectuals, leaders and activists from Brazil and other countries met to discuss politics. Our meeting brought together more than 1,500 activists from the 24 states in which the MST is present and we welcomed invitees from more than 30 countries. The discussions were documented in a manifesto, in which we reaffirmed our dedication to the struggle for Agrarian Reform and the changes that will be necessary in this country (read below). “The MST is not the affliction of Brazil; it is the demonstration of health, of those who do not surrender to tyranny, oppression, and marginalization. The MST in Brazil is the Palestine movement in Gaza. This extraordinarily organized movement, that develops activists in schools and universities, is a gift from God for peace to be established in the country,” said the governor of Paraná, Roberto Requião (PMDB). Jackson Lago (PDT), governor of Maranhão, pointed out the importance of the Movement in the struggle for education. “The MST fills an important role in the social endeavors of the country, especially in the eradication of illiteracy. I hope that the Movement continues to have the support of society.” “We only fight because we love, and this movement unifies us and awakens within us the spirit of liberty,” said the mayor of Fortaleza, Luizianne Lins (PT). “You are doing what my father always tried to do and to which he devoted 70 years of his life. He always said that the people needed to come together. The history of the 19th century is a history of struggles and repression of social movements. In the 20th century, it was the same thing, except that the Prestes Column was not destroyed. The MST is following this example very closely to be able to transform Brazil into a socialist country,” added Anita Prestes, historian and daughter of the socialist leaders Luiz Carlos Prestes and Olga Benario. International support – Aleida Guevara, Cuban doctor and daughter of Che Guevara, also showed her support in Sarandi. “When I go to some place belonging to the MST, whether it is a campground, a settlement, or a school, I always feel the strength of life that emanates from you—strength that shows that, when people try to create their own destiny, they can.” Representing the International Peasant Movement, Turkish leader Abdullah Aysu affirmed that the MST is a symbol of earth, dignity, and life for the peasants of Turkey. “Every time a friend of the MST falls on the battlefield, we feel sad in Turkey,” he concluded. At the end of the meeting, the delegations from the 24 states in which the MST is active and a group of invitees planted 25 trees—each one representing one year in the life of the movement. Struggle for Land Prize – The MST awarded the Struggle for Land Prize in commemoration of its 25 years, on the night of January 23rd. The prize, which has existed since 2000, recognizes organizations, collectives, personalities, and social activists who have show commitment to the Agrarian Reform, the MST, social movements, and the interests of the Brazilian people. The award aims to show the value of the initiatives and undertakings of other social movements, as well as honor those people who have dedicated their lives to defending the interests of the Brazilian people. This year, 15 awards were given in several categories. The lawyer Jacques Alfonsin and the advocate Afonso Henrique Miranda were honored in the Friends of Agrarian Reform category. The international figure honored as a friend of the MST was Fidel Castro. The Federação dos Trabalhadores Metalúrgicos do RS, Movimento dos Atingindos por Barragens, Movimento dos Atingidos pela Base de Alcântara, and Celso Furtado were also honored. LETTER FROM THE MST 13th National Meeting of the Movement of Rural Landless Workers 1. We, more than 1,500 landless rural workers, coming from all regions of Brazil, and international delegations from Latin America, Europe, and Asia, met from January 20th to 24th in Sarandi, Rio Grande do Sul, to commemorate the MST’s 25 years of efforts. We also reviewed our history and reaffirmed our commitment to the fight for Agrarian Reform and the changes that are necessary in our country. 2. We celebrated the victories of our people over the years, when thousands of families have had access to land; millions of hectares have been recovered from latifúndios; hundreds of schools have been constructed and, above all, millions of exploited people from the countryside have regained their dignity, built a new consciousness and today walk with pride. 3. We recognized our martyrs who fell along the way, struck down by capitalism. And we remember the leaders of the Brazilian people who have passed away but left a legacy of unity and an example of perseverance. 4. We saw how capitalism, which today comprises industrial, commercial, and financial companies, plans to control our agriculture, our seeds, our water, energy, and biodiversity. 5. We took responsibility for guaranteeing the social function of the land; taking care of seeds and producing nutritious foods, in such a way that protects human health, integrating men and women into a healthy environment that provides for a better and better quality of life. 6. We reaffirmed our plan to continue the fight in alliance with all movements and organizations of workers and of the people, against the latifúndio, agro-business, capitalism, the domination of the bourgeois state, and imperialism. 7. We defended Agrarian Reform as a necessity which values work, agro-ecology, agrarian cooperation, agro-industry controlled by the workers, education, and culture, all of which are indispensible for equality and solidarity among human beings. 8. We are convinced that only the struggle of the workers and of the organized people can lead to the economic, social, and political changes necessary for the emancipation of the exploited and downtrodden. 9. We reaffirm international solidarity and the right of the people to self-rule and self-determination. For this reason, we give our support to all who resist and fight back against imperialist interventions, as the Afghans, Cubans, Haitians, Iraqis, and Palestinians do today. 10. Aware of our tasks and of the enormous challenges in front of us, we reaffirm the necessity of constructing alliances with people’s and political movements and organizations with common causes, so that, united and in solidarity, we may construct a project of the people, capable of ending dependency and internal subordination—internal and external to capitalism—and construct an egalitarian and free society—a socialist society. Sarandi, January 24th, 2009.