[6/4/05] MST Update #91: CPMI of Land--ideological platform of the fight for Agrarian Reform

*The MST distributes biweekly updates that FMST-US volunteers translate and make available. Please read the latest below.*

MST Update #91: June 4, 2005

FEATURE: Congressional Commission of Inquiry of Land--Ideological Platform of the Fght for Agrarian Reform

Dear friends of the MST,

The week in Brasília we followed two more sessions of the Congressional Commission of Inquiry of Land (CPMI). Established in the beginning of 2004, the objectives of the CPMI were to analyze the progress of Agrarian Reform, the social movements of workers and landowners, and to investigate the causes of rural conflicts and violence in order to identify concrete solutions to the Agrarian Reform problems in Brazil.

However, what we are experiencing is a deviation of focus in regards to the question of land. Recent issues such as habeas corpus conceded to Adriano Chafik Luedy, confessed perpetrator of the Felisburgo Massacre (state of Minas Gerais), or the liberty of those who ordered the assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang, did not even make it on the Commission agenda. Instead, the CPMI decided to investigate two associations, the Anca (National Association of Agricultural Cooperation) and the Concrab (Confederation of Agrarian Reform Cooperatives of Brazil), which fight for Agrarian Reform in the country and are partners of the MST and other social movements.

We are not against the investigation, much to the contrary. The MST has always defended transparency in the administration of any public resource. But the intention of the CPMI congress members, connected to agribusiness and other politicians who represent these interests, the ruralists, was not just to verify the destination of the government funds. The idea was to link the financial transactions of the two non-profit and autonomous associations, which are available to the public in the Brazilian Federal Court of Accounts (Tribunal de Contas da União), to the transactions of the Movement, trying to criminalize the rural workers and affect the morale of the MST in the eyes of the Brazilian society, trying to put the MST in the common grave of the corrupt.

The legitimacy of the National Congress in promoting the Commissions of Investigations is protected by the Federal Constitution itself. However, this legitimacy is lost when the CPMI misrepresents itself and, in the process of investigation, transforms into an instrument for attacking the government and for criminalizing the social movements. It fails to investigate entities tied to latifundios, CNA (National Agricultural Confederation), SRB (Brazilian Rural Society), UDR (Democratic Ruralist Union) and others. The denouncements of farms with slave labor are put aside. The smuggling of transgenic seed, which contaminate the plantations of the south of the country, was ignored.

In October of last year, the CPMI reporter, Congressman João Alfredo (PT/CE) alerted: “what Commission President Senator ÿlvaro Dias (PSDB/PR) appears to intend to do is transform it into the CPMI of Boné, proposed by the ruralists, with whom the Senator is extremely close.‿ The discussions between the congressmen and senators in this week’s sessions are a clear example of this dispute of ideologies and societal projects between those who want to maintain the concentration of wealth and land, and those who are in favor of the people, social justice and Agrarian Reform.

Furthermore, the judicial order was that the information would stay restricted to the CPMI. Oddly, the CPMI President has spoken with the press, in a clear attempt to involve the MST and to turn public opinion against the Movement.

In their opening explanations, those who testified from the two entities responded to all the doubts and questions that had been published in newspapers and in previous sessions of the CMPI, not leaving behind any doubts about the nature of the financial movements or the execution of governmental resources, demonstrating that the objectives of the agreements were reached. Following, those who testified decided to exercise their constitutional right not to answer the questions put forth by the ruralists, who during the session criticized, attacked, and condemned the image of the entities and their leaders. However, the representatives reaffirmed their willingness to debate with the society, making clear their objectives and their contribution to the fight for Agrarian Reform.

Between the agreements and partnerships, the Anca and the Concrab support projects in the areas of health, environment, culture, education, and agricultural cooperation. They collaborate, for example, in increasing literacy among youth and adults. Today there are thirty thousand students and around three thousand educators in the settlements, a part mobilized by these partnerships with UNICEF and universities (For example UnB, UNICAMP; UFPR; PUC-SP, UNESP and many others throughout Brazil). Currently the Concrab brings together approximately 500 associations of production and services, more than 50 livestock cooperatives, more than 60 service cooperatives, 5 credit cooperatives, more than 100 medium and small agribusinesses, and 5 labor cooperatives. They give technical support to the production cooperatives, seeking to help the families in the managerial and technological aspect of the productive process and organizing the agricultural production towards eliminating hunger and poverty, creating a space for social participation.

The Cinema na Terra Project, carried out by Anca, with financial backing of Petrobrás, and through the Law of Cultural Incentive (Lei de Incentivo à Cultura), has sought to take more cinema and art to the settlements. The first projections took place at the National March for Agrarian Reform. Starting this month, the project expands to nine states, which should receive equipment and training for 130 cultural agents who will work with the project.

In the area of environment, groundbreaking experiments have been taking place with organics seeds, free of agrotoxins and distributed nationally. In the area of health, Anca has been developing the STD/AIDS prevention program in partnership with the Minister of Health. These are just a few examples of the work that these entities have been developing during the years, contributing to the Agrarian Reform settlements.

These projects and partnerships will continue in the settlements, strengthening the causes of the social movements, regardless of the dishonest accusations put forth by the ruralists. The MST reiterates its support of these entities and invites all to visit the developments in the settlements.

We hope that the true objectives of the CMPI of Land are recovered, and that there is an end to the political persecution of the entities and Social Movements that support and fight for Agrarian Reform and a different society.

A warm embrace,

National Secretariat of the MST

*Translated by Friends of the MST volunteer Amanda Lyons