[12-30-2009] MST Informa No. 178: Balance and Challenges for a New Year

The end of year is time to take stock of activities over the year now, assess the progress and the difficulties and begin planning for the coming next year. 2009 will be remembered in history as the year of the great capitalist crisis that hit financial markets around the world. A crisis that began in the U.S., but has swept many countries, rich and poor, breaking stock exchanges, banks, businesses, and especially collapsing the ideological hegemony and certainties of the big capitalists in their god - the Market; the so-called neo-liberalism. We had the sad news that, according to the UN, the number of hungry people has surpassed 1 billion people, or one of every six people is in hunger somewhere in the world. There was also an increased concentration of wealth and income across the planet, the way global capitalism works. The felling of forests by agribusiness and the large number of cars produced in the last period to save the crisis has further aggravated the environmental problems, forcing the world to discuss global warming and its consequences for humanity. In addition, intensive farming and the agribusiness production model - based on the misuse of agricultural machinery and poisons - increased the environmental imbalance in rural areas. We all hoped that the Heads of State understood the gravity of the situation and were in Copenhagen to sign a commitment to recovery of the Earth. We were sadly mistaken. The governments of the countries most responsible for creating imbalances remain the same, increasingly unreasonable and irresponsible. Finally, in the end, they do not want to change their pattern of consumption, or their privileges, which are paid for by all mankind. The international Via Campesina (peasant movement) and the environmental movement have evaluated the situation well: only popular mobilization can now save the life on the planet. In Brazil, the year was marked by important debates such as the issue of petroleum reserves under the ocean, which can change the course of economic and social problems; the upgrading of productivity indices, promised taken by the Lula government since May 2005, which could speed up land reform; and the reduction of the work week to 40 hours, long of the agenda of the workers and now assumed by all unions. We also had a year marked by the criminalization of poverty and social movements. We have seen in several state governments, the state continues with reactionary positions, using courts to solve social problems and criminalizing the movements that organize the struggles and battles of resistance in poor communities of large cities and the countryside. The MST has paid dearly, we lost companion Elton Brum, murdered by the Military Brigade. And we had several arrest warrants against our leaders. In the political struggle, the right wing has expanded its presence in areas that hold hegemony, such as the judiciary, making the chief justice a mere spokesman for their interests. In Congress, in addition to numerous cases of corruption, the right increased the offensive with laws that go against the course of history, as attempts to appropriate the Amazon, changes in the Forestry Code and the intent of allowing the use and marketing of all agricultural poisons and transgenic seeds. Agrarian Reform We have made great journeys of struggle, demanding the implementation of agrarian reform, in April and August, but once again closed the year with little progress for Agrarian Reform. It is estimated that less than 20 thousand families were settled, i.e., only 20% of the target proposed by INCRA of 100 thousand families per year. More than 96 thousand families remain in camps, mostly for more than three years under canvas tents. We had some improvements in the settlements, such as the expansion of electricity, piped water, housing and infrastructure. However, no progress on an issue central to the development of settlements: the implementation of agro-industrial cooperatives, the universalization of public services and technical assistance and a rural credit policy appropriate to the settlers. PRONAF has proved insufficient to solve the problems of the settlers, such as increasing the volume of credit. This makes it difficult to increase family income. Given all this, our prime role is to continue organizing workers to ensure the settlement of encampment families and improve the living conditions of families already settled, advancing the discussion and implementation of an agrarian reform popular. Challenges for 2010 2010 requires us to face many challenges, from the general struggle for changes in policy to the struggle for agrarian reform. We need to build alliances with sectors of social and union movements of the urban environment, because the challenges are large, and require the mobilization of the entire class. The land issues are often solved through the mobilization of the entire class, to change the current correlation of political forces. We contribute to the organization, along with religious society, People's Assembly and Coordination of Social Movements, for a plebiscite for a limitation on the amount of land ownership in Brazil. Also we seek to strengthen the fight to reduce working hours and continue this agenda; denouncing and confronting the criminalization of social movements; and striving to ensure that the off-shore oil actually belongs to the people and its resources are intended to combat poverty and invested in education and health of the population. Next year will be the challenge of the elections and, even with the limitations of bourgeois representative democracy, we believe it is important to seize this moment, where the population is involved in the election, to have a great debate. It is timely to discuss the social and structural problems of the country and guide the need for the construction of a popular project for Brazil. We need to vote for socialist and progressive candidates, committed to agrarian reform, and not let candidates of the right to be elected with the votes of the workers. Brazil needs to show the world in the next period, rather than being the country of the Olympics or World Cup, to be a country of social justice for all its citizens. A country that is without illiteracy and is a symbol of agro-ecological production. A country where there is not more concentration of land or income. This is the country we want for all its people in 2010.