MST Takes Action in 8 States for Agrarian Reform and Against the Economic Crisis

by Michelle Amaral da Silva - last modified 2009-04-16 11:50 Mobilizations throughout Brazil in memory of the 19 landless workers killed 13 years ago in the Massacre of Eldorado de Carajás are planned for the coming weeks. The National Day of Struggle, held in memory of 19 landless workers killed 13 years ago in the massacre of Eldorado de Carajás (PA), has mobilized farmers in 8 states and the Federal District since the beginning of the month, to force implementation of agrarian reform and against agribusiness. This Wednesday (14/04), there were land occupations, marches and actions in Rio Grande do Sul, Pernambuco, Mato Grosso, Pará, Bahia and the Federal District. Since last week, there were also actions in São Paulo, Minas Gerais and Roraima. "The economic crisis shows that agribusiness is unable to improve the lives of rural workers. We support the implementation of land reform and a program of agro-industries in the settlements to create jobs and generate development in the countryside," says a member of the coordination of the MST, Marina dos Santos. From November 2008 to February 2009 there were 747,515 jobs lost in the country. The entire agribusiness sector lost 268,888 jobs (in the agricultural sector, there were 145,631 jobs lost, in the sector of food and beverages, 123,257 jobs lost), approximately 35% of the total (data from Dieese). The figures indicate that much of the jobs of agribusiness were eliminated, despite the policy of rural credit from the federal government. Last year, the BNDES (Banco Nacional de Desenvolvimento Econômico e Social) has granted loans at more than 17.2 billion reais for the agribusiness companies. The Bank of Brazil has invested more than R$10 billion for only 20 companies in the agribusiness. Meanwhile, the PRONAF (National Program of Family Agriculture) is forecast for the release of only R$7.2 billion for the 2008/2009 season, reaching 1.2 million families of small farmers. "The federal government financed its loans with unemployment of agribusiness. We need a new policy for rural credit, with the creation of a special line for settlers and the reduction of bureaucracy for credit lines for small farming. We believe that all the agribusiness companies that took public resources and have fired workers should be dispossessed of their areas and that all the families of workers who lost their jobs due to the crisis should be settled there," argues Marina. In Rio Grande do Sul, 200 families occupied the farm São João D'Armada, in the municipality of Canguçu. The area is 1,130 acres and was considered unproductive by INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform) in 2007, but never expropriated. In São Luiz Gonzaga, 300 rural workers began a march toward latifundia, from a camp on the [highway] BR 285. A Term of Adjustment of Conduct (TAC) signed by INCRA established the settlement of 2 thousand families of rural workers by the end of last year, but only 700 of these actually settled on land in the state. In Pernambuco, the farm Cristina, located in Vitória de Santo Antão, the metropolitan area of Recife, was occupied by about 100 families. The area of 500 hectares is unproductive and belongs to the municipal council. This was the third occupation of the National Day of Struggle for Agrarian Reform in the state. Yesterday (14/04), some 100 families occupied a farm in Pernambuco, 1,000 hectares in the municipality of Inajá, in the interior of the state. On Monday (13/04), landless families occupied the Engenho General in São Lourenço da Mata, where they are still camped. In Mato Grosso, about 300 workers began a march for land reform, employment and environmental protection. They came out of Jangada and will walk 100 kilometers to the Trevo do Lagarto in Varzea Grande, where they arrived on Sunday (19/04). On Friday (17/04), in Cuiabá, landless workers will launch the "Limititation of Ownership of the Land: in defense of agrarian reform and food sovereignty," driven by the Popular Assembly. In the state, there are about 4 thousand families settled, but in many settlements there is real government neglect. About 3 thousand families still have a bitter life under black canvas, in the roadsides, in Mato Grosso State territory. In Pará, the journey began with the Youth Camp in Eldorado dos Carajás, and remembered the massacre scene in April. Over 500 youth from all regions of the state began to discuss the role of youth in society and participate in workshops, meeting with INCRA and acting in memory of murdered landless. In Belém, workers in North and Northeast regions are concentrated in the Praça da Leitura, where is located the "Column of Infamy", a monument built in tribute to victims of the massacre. Over 400 people are expected to attend the activities, which include action against the criminalization of social movements and a march. In the Federal District, 300 families in the MST and the Movement of Rural Workers Support (MATRA) occupied the farm Engenho in Planaltina (DF). The workers complained that the leaseholders break the Environmental Law, because of pesticide use in the extended planting of soybeans, located in Area of Environmental Protection. The workers arranged a hearing to discuss the issue tomorrow (16/04), at 14h, with national representatives of INCRA, the Regional Superintendent of the municipality and the IBAMA [the environmental protection agency]. Last Wednesday, 200 people blocked the stretch of highway BR-020, also in the region of Planaltina. In DF, the landless require the settlement of 1,800 families camped out, technical assistance to 1,200 families settled, investments in education, rehabilitation of settlements and restructuring of the Regional Superintendent of INCRA, the SR 28. In Bahia, 400 families occupied the farm crops, in the municipality of Camamu (southern state), to denounce the evils of large-scale monoculture in the region. Three years ago, the MST applied for a survey by INCRA, but until now nothing has been done. Around 2 thousand farmers occupied,since Monday (13/04), the offices of Seagri (Secretary of Agriculture of Bahia), in Salvador, to pressure the state government to fulfill the guidelines established in 2007, the year in which they promised to construct five thousand houses and 1,200 km of roads in the settlements, the survey of areas in all state and infrastructure of the settlements. In Eunápolis, 800 families still occupying the area of 4,700 hectares of land - used illegally by Veracel Cellulose for the planting of eucalyptus. On Friday (17/04), the state's Legislative Assembly will honor 25 years of the MST's existence. In Roraima, 70 families from the MST, last Friday (10/04), occupied the Autarraia farm in the town of Bonfim, to demand the creation of a project of settlement in the area and speed up INCRA in the establishment of other settlements in the state. In Roraima, for three years, INCRA did not create new settlements or act on those that are already created. The settlements are missing roads, housing, energy, credit, production support and separation allowances in the territories liberated by IBAMA. In Minas Gerais, about 900 families combined last Thursday (09/04) in the occupation if the rural/urban Danda, in Belo Horizonte. The action was taken jointly by the Forum of Neighborhood Housing, the Popular Brigades and the MST. The families occupied 10% of land, over 40 hectares, supposedly belonging to Construtora Modelo. The protesters point out that the land is located in the neighborhood Céu Azul, has been abandoned for many years and has debt of more than R$18 million for non-payment of IPTU (Land and Urban Territory Tax). In Sao Paulo, about 120 landless families occupied (on 06/04) Fazenda Nossa Senhora Aparecida, in the region of Agudos (close to Bauru). The workers claim the allocation of the farm area for Agrarian Reform, as the land, about 700 hectares, is considered public, but has no destination and type of use.