[5/2/05] MST Update #89: National MST March Steps Off - Proposal to Be Delivered to Three Powers in Brasilia

MST UPDATE # 89 "Special Edition"

Dear Friends of the MST,

On May 2, 12,000 men and women workers left the city of Goiânia headed to Brasília so that together they can march, protest and call society’s attention to the serious situation of poverty and inequality in the countryside. Coming from 23 states, these men, women, and children will go on foot for 17 days for the 200 kilometers between the two cities. Among them is a 97 year old man, Luis Beltrane, who is making his third march to the capital. The people are making a collective sacrifice, using their own bodies as a tool for struggle in search of a more dignified life for Brazilians.

They represent more than 200,000 families who are in encampments and 350,000 in settlements in our country. They represent the unemployed, the small farmers, the rural women, youth, students, teachers, the indigenous, the social movements and all those who call out for transformations and demand concrete changes to improve the life of the Brazilian people. This is the National March for Land Reform, the result of national and international solidarity.

Every day the march will begin at 5:00 A.M. During the morning before the sun heats up, our comrades will march almost 20 kilometers. In their backpacks, they will carry books and notebooks to study at night. Within himself, each marcher carries the values of generosity and the will to arrive in Brasília.

At night, marching will give way to cultural activities that will raise the level of consciousness of our people.

We are going to Brasília to demand Land Reform, changes in economic policies and to denounce slave labor produced by agribusiness.

In November of 2003 we made an agreement with the government that committed to settle 400,000 families in three years of the president’s term in office. Almost one and a half years later, fewer than 60,000 families have been settled the budget for Land Reform has been cut by two billion. The money was destined for the primary budget surplus to pay the interest on the foreign and internal debt and to the banks.

The political platform that will be handed over to the three powers upon our arrival in Brasilia on May 17 is attached below.

We hope to count on your participation, support, and the solidarity.

A warm embrace,
National Secretariat of the MST

- Proposal from the MST, Via Campesina and Social Movements to Lula’s Government

1 – To meet the target of settling 430,000 landless families, until the end of his term, as promised in the National Plan for Land Reform.
2 – To implement a programme establishing agro-industries in settlements and to create a special credit for land reform.
3 – To defend the Amazon and Brazilian biodiversity against the interests of transnationals and to stop the process of water privatization.
4 – To guarantee the principle of precaution and to hinder the liberalization of any GMO crop for commercial agriculture before the release of definite research results on its consequences for the environment and for the health of the people.
5 – To exemplarily punish all ranchers responsible for violence against rural workers. To federalize court cases on manslaughter. To immediately approve the law for expropriation of farms which use slave labour.
6 – To demarcate all indigenous areas as determined by the constitution, to support and value the culture of indigenous peoples. To regulate all quilombola lands. (During the colonial period quilombos were communities organized by run away slaves.)

7 – To apply the 60 million reais from the annual primary budget surplus, which is people's tax money, investing this money to generate jobs. Applying them for popular housing, public health and free EDUCATION for the youth. To implement the programme to eradicate illiteracy in our society.
8 –To lower interest rates (Selic) to the rates practiced in the United States and in neighbouring countries such as Venezuela and Argentina, 2.5% a year, not the 19.50% charged now, which only makes profits for the banks.
9 – Double the real value of the minimum wage and pensions for 454 reais a month, in May 2005, and to 566 reais in May 2006, with the objective of distributing wealth and improving the living conditions of the poorest. Honouring the commitment made by the government to double the salary’s buying power during his time in office.
10 – To recover governmental and public control over the central bank and its monetary policies. To hinder the autonomy of the bank, as it is being pushed forward by bankers and the IMF.
11 – Not signing the FTAA agreement. Not accepting the WTO rules which affect Brazilian economy. Only keeping trade agreements that can benefit the people.
12 – To perform a Public Auditing of the foreign debt, as it is determined by the constitution. To renegotiate foreign debt, since we have already paid it over and over again. Use these resources in education, as proposed by CNTE [National Confederation of Workers in Education]. To renegotiate the internal public debt, extending its payment without affecting the budget of the Union.

13 – To mobilise the National Congress to approve the regulation for a Popular Referendum, a Law Project (#.4718/2004) presented by the OAB [Lawyer’s Organization of Brazil] and CNBB [National Confederation of Brazilian Bishops]. So people will decide about the fundamental issues concerning their lives.
14 – Democratise media use in the country. To review political concessions and release the use of community radios and TVs.
15 – To condemn in all international media the war policies and human rights violations committed by the Bush government, demanding the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. To withdraw Brazilian troops immediately from Haiti.
16 – To promote a true collective effort, discussing with society a Project for national development which will guarantee national sovereignty, and to define as priority the assurance of work for everyone, the battle against social inequality and a true democratic policy.