[12/31/07] MST Informa #147: In 2008 we will continue to struggle and to make the impossible possible!

Esteemed Friends of the MST,

The year 2007 is coming to an end and we would therefore like to communicate to you a political assessment of our struggle. We would like to provide accounts of what we are doing in our trenches, which is the struggle for Agrarian Reform. We would like to share with our companions who are active in other trenches what we accomplished in this period, and at the same time reaffirm our commitment to the struggle for the transformation of this society.

We believe that the year 2007 was important for the organization of our militancy, in the struggle for Agrarian Reform and for our work with other struggles, which brought the MST into alliances with diverse other movements in the countryside and in the cities. The year was also important in that we matured in our understanding that Agrarian Reform is not possible without the defeat of agribusiness. The realization of our 5th National Congress, with more than 17,000 delegates from across the country, was fundamental to constructing unity in the analysis of the agrarian reality and in the construction of a proposal for Popular Agrarian Reform.

In recent years, we experienced attacks, by transnational entities, against agriculture in order to control land, seeds, water, and soil. These transnational entities also endeavored to gain control over our territory and natural resources. These attacks are also the result of the advance of neoliberalism, first installed in this country at the beginning of the 1990s, after which the correlation of forces changed and our enemies became stronger. Prior to this period we were accustomed to battling against the latifúndio, or large-landed estates. Now our enemies are unproductive latifúndios, transnational companies that want to dominate agriculture and agribusiness. This analysis led us to understand that Agrarian Reform will only proceed if we defeat neoliberalism.

Our Struggles

We began the year with a large mobilization on March 8, the International Day of Women. In various states, female rural workers organized to struggle for Food Sovereignty and Against Agrobusiness. In São Paulo, women from Via Campesina occupied the Usina Cevasa, now controlled by the American company Cargill, and in other states they occupied areas of Aracruz Celulos, Stora Enso, and Boise.

In April, we carried out the great Campaign for the Struggle for Agrarian Reform. There were marches, occupations of large unproductive land estates, protests in public buildings, and closings of toll booths and streets in the 24 states where we are organized. The Campaign also called for the punishment of those that executed 19 Landless Workers in April of 1996, in Eldorado dos Carajas (PA). We carried out a mobilization in May, during which we met with popular movements and central trade unions in order to achieve a unified campaign on the 23rd, “Not One Right Less”, against neoliberal reforms, the retreat of workers’ rights, and the economic policies of Lula’s government.

In the second half of the year, to commemorate the Day of the Rural Workers (July 25) we carried out protests and occupations, including the occupation of Boa Vista estate, in Alagoas, the property of the Calheiros family. In August and in collaboration with a broad cross section of Brazil's students, we carried out the National Campaign in Defense of Public Education, the goal of which was to regain access to universities. We also participared in the Campaign “The Vale do Rio Doce is Ours”, the highest point being a public plebiscite in September -- 3,729,538 Brazilians participated, of which 94.5% voted that VALE should not continue to be in the hands of private capital.

In the months of September and October, we carried out marches in almost every state to denounce the abandonment of family agriculture and Agrarian Reform. In Rio Grande do Sul, three columns of workers marched for 62 days in the direction of Fazenda Guerra, in Coqueiros do Sul, in order to call for the expropriation of this area for Agrarian Reform. We ended 2007 with occupations of the offices of the Swiss company Syngenta Seeds, in various states, and with the occupation of Estrada de Ferro Carajás, da VALE, in the state of Pará.

We cannot remain silent in our nostalgic remembrance of our companions who paid with their lives for the right to struggle. We lost Valmi Mota de Oliveira (Keno), who was executed in cold blood on October 21 by an armed militia contracted by the transnational company Syngenta, in Santa Teresa do Oeste, in Paraná. We lost numerous other companions, such as Maria Salete Ribeiro Moreno (MA), Cirilo de Oliveira Neto (RN), Dênis Santana de Souza (PE), just to cite a few.

Priority in Education

In 2007 we continued investing in education and formation. Our National Campaign of Solidarity with MST Libraries collected more than 220,000 books! We are grateful for the help we received from many partners, intellectuals and friends, who not only donated books, but also disseminated our ideas. Also, we are proud of our 2,500 youth that are graduating from universities and our 240 youth who studied medicine in the Latin American School of Medicine, or the Escola Latino-Americana de Medicina (ELAM), in Cuba. We remain proud of the substantial growth of the Florestan Fernandes National School (ENFF); an institution which is not only for training the MST but for the training of the entire working class as well.

The year 2007 was also a time of struggles, and closes with our giving full-fledged support to Bishop Dom Luiz Cappio, who for 24 days remained on a hunger strike against the implementation of a project on the São Francisco River. In the spirit of Bishop Cappio, we must strengthen our efforts to struggle against the transformation of our natural resources, and of our most valuable assets, such as water, into consumer goods. In spite of the intransigence of the government to opening a dialogue, we will remember Bishop Cappio words: “one of our greatest joys in this period was to have seen the people rising and rekindling in their hearts the consciousness of the strength of unity.”

Given the struggles and trials of 2007, we know that next year will not be easy. We know that the dispute and divisions between the two projects of agriculture will become even sharper and move divisive. In the agribusiness and transnational model of agriculture, there is not a place for farmers or for the Brazilian people. This model desires and clamors for agriculture without agricultural workers and small producers! Because of this, we will continue our struggle against agribusiness, transgenic seeds, the control of foreign capital over agro-energy, and the expansion of sugar cane and eucalyptus. We will continue our struggle for the expropriation of land for Agrarian Reform. We will struggle in order to impede the advance of foreign property that is coming to dominate our territory. In all of these struggles, we hope to find you always supporting us.

A great year of 2008 to all of us, with much struggle and many victories!

Agrarian Reform: for Social Justice and Popular Sovereignty!

National Secretary of the MST