[3/17/05] MST Update #86: Special Edition: "The Subscribers Pay, Veja Magazine Lies"

Dear friends of the MST,

In this special edition of MST Informa, we want to share with you an article by José Arbex Jr.*, that was published in Brasil de Fato on March 17, 2005:

TITLE: The subscribers pay, Veja lies

By José Arbex Jr.**

In its March 5th edition, the magazine - or rather racist pamphlet - turns to producing injuries, calumnies, and defamations against the MST with its "news article" titled "We pay, they invade". The pamphlet accuses the MST of diverting "millions of reais" provided by the government to implement land reform. The money that was "diverted" would be utilized to promote new "invasions". Besides this, Veja publishes testimonies of supposed ex-members of the MST who denounce the levying of illegal taxes on all the settlers by the national leadership of the Movement. Furious at such an injustice, the ex-militants burned the MST flag, producing an undisguised spasm of joy in the authors of the "report", made in Baixio do Boi settlement, in the area of S. José de Belmonte, in the central sertão of Pernambuco.

... And Veja lies again.

First of all comes the question of the supposed "irate dissidents". One hundred ninety families live in the settlement, around 800 people. Of these, only 10 participated in the "protest", led by a certain Francisco, ex-farm technician. Others who were at the event did not have any relation with the MST. What the magazine does not say, explains Jaime Amorim, of the movement leadership, is that six months previously this Francisco was kicked out of the MST on suspicion of embezzling money from PRONA and for bad behavior. Currently, this Francisco is being sued by the Bank of the Northeast for diverting money. Either Veja did not know about this and is incompetent or knew and hid the information and is therefore criminal.

After this comes the accusation of the so-called "illegal taxation". This is old news. This false claim was raised in 2000 by the so-called "journalist" Josias de Souza, from the Folha de S. Paulo, who was later obliged to admit that he had made his report under the auspices of the Cardoso government that got to the point of giving cars and technical orientation for the production of a work that was really "independent" of true journalism. At the time, the MST went to great measures to explain that any cooperative, in any part of the planet Earth, charges a minimum fee from its members as a basic condition for its existence.

Finally, comes the accusation of "diversion of funds" to promote "invasions". Frankly, the subject becomes tedious and hardly merits a comment. The editors of the big pamphlet think it strange that the government gives funds to a social movement that encompasses 300 thousand families of rural workers all over the country and that maintains schools, health clinics, professional training, technical assistance, and other public services. Just in comparison: in 2003, the National Association of Farm Cooperatives (accused by Veja of receiving improper public money) obtained R$ 3,424,608.00 from the Ministry of Education to promote its literacy program for 35,000 adults in camps and settlements, some situated in areas so inhospitable that they are not served by a state infrastructure. So in the same period, the group directed by the ex-first lady Ruth Cardoso (Solidarity Literacy) received R$ 33,966,900.00 and SESI, R$ 27,680,400.00; and R$ 6,193,440.00 went to the Riomafrense Institute for the Well-Being of Minors, a municipal-level group from Paraná. None of this merits the attention of the honest editors of the big pamphlet.

Curiously, the magazine - also repudiated by the Workers' Party, which was accused without any proof of having received funds from the Colombian FARC to promote its 2002 electoral campaign - says nothing about the much more substantial funds directed by the government to the coffers of the Civita family as payment for ads and acquisition of subscriptions of the Abril Group. It would be very interesting to promote a Congressional investigation to examine the relations between various governments and the owners of the Abril Group, and also what the Civita family does with its bounty.

It appears that it didn't help that the magazine was condemned for injury, calumny and defamation, for a similar "news article", published in the edition of May 10, 2000, titled "The Tactics of the Gang". At the time, João Peter Stedile sued and won in the lower court. Counting on the slowness of the courts, the magazine appealed. The suit still continues, but morally the magazine was shown its place: in the garbage can of history. The subscribers of the magazine, by the way, should demand their money back for receiving phony news that, in addition, is reheated. One suggestion: they use as a motto "We pay, they lie".

* José Arbex Jr. is a journalist with a PhD in History from University of São Paulo, professor of Journalism at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo, former editor of the Folha de S.Paulo and writes for the magazine Caros Amigos.

** Hamilton Octavio de Souza collaborated

A warm embrace to all!

National Secretariat of the MST