The Situation of Agrarian Reform and the Urgency for Solutions
Dear Friends of the MST,
We came to your presence to inform you of some very important recent events that happened in the struggle for Brazilian Agrarian Reform, and the situation in the countryside in general.
In recent years, capital has been implementing the model of agricultural production of agribusiness that we have denounced as perverse to the interests of the Brazilian people. A model based on monoculture, intensive use of poisons that contaminate food, unemployment and the expulsion of the rural population. A model that destroys biodiversity and has serious consequences for the climate balance.
Despite its perverseness, which gives profit only to a minority of farmers and 50 transnational companies that dominate Brazilian agriculture, it achieved hegemony through the media, which influences the government and society claiming that this is the only possible model for production.
Behind this ideological hegemony, protected by the media, also hides landlordism, unproductive, that continues accumulating land with more archaic methods.
With this, ongoing in the countryside, is a permanent process of concentration of land ownership as well as the concentration of production of few products. Currently, 85% of all areas are used only for the production of soybeans, corn, sugar cane, eucalyptus and pasture for cattle. Everything is for export.
Yet our people are resisting and resuming mobilizations in the fight for the right to stay and work on the land, for a People's Agrarian Reform that actually democratizes the agrarian structure of the country and a new production model, ensuring healthy food for all people .
In recent weeks we have had two very important events, for which we are asking for your support, because as we enter into the fight against landlordism and land concentration, and against this predator model and the exclusive agribusiness model.
One of these events was the occupation of an area used by Araupel [Ed. large Brazilian lumber and lumber product company] for the monoculture of pine and eucalyptus in Paraná. On July 17, some 2,500 families of rural workers occupied the Fazenda Rio das Cobras, are area taken illegally by the company, between the municipalities of Rio Bonito do Iguaçu and Quedas do Iguaçu.
Incra [Ed. National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform] in Paraná maintains that the area of about 35,000 hectares [Ed. about 86,500 acres] is public, and that it was illegally taken in the 1960’s, and which, therefore, should be allocated to the Agrarian Reform.
Conservative sectors of the Paraná politics, particularly Senator Alvaro Dias (PSDB-PR) [Ed. a center-right party], has been the main spokesman for the interests of the company. The region's population knows the truculence of the company, and how it never generated wealth to build cities and towns, on several occasions the local population has expressed support for these lands to be used for Agrarian Reform, generating jobs, income and production of food.
The other case concerns the Fazenda Santa Mônica, 20 thousand hectares in the municipality of Cocalzinho in Goiás. On the last day August 31, about 3,000 families occupied the farm owned by the senator and candidate for governor of the state of Ceará, Eunício Oliveira (PMDB) [Ed. rightwing party]. According to data collected by the neighbors, the ownership is a result of the expulsion of more than 70 families in the area, and no one knows the total property dominated by the senator.
There are various judicial processes by former residents claiming ownership of their lands, illegally occupied by the Senator. One of the objectives, included in the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) [Ed. agrarian reform are of the Catholic Church], is to report the case to the Commission on Human Rights in the Senate.
On the other hand, the senator declared in income tax and Electoral Court that these 20,000 hectares are worth only R$ 361,000 [Ed. $154,000]. The poor Senator and young businessman who also owns 91 other farms in several states of Brazil.
There are several reports in the region that witnessed the brutality with which the senator was able to increase his ownership, which certainly was not with the sweat of his brow.
The local judge has granted an eviction injunction. However, the Goiás MST- denounces the promiscuous bonds of the judge with the senator, who used to attend the same parties, in addition to tours of the judge of the senator’s estates.
Now, the governor of Goiás, Marconi Perillo (PSDB), through the commander of the Military Police dispatched to the site of the occupation, made a public commitment that the Military Police will not be used to take actions against the Goiás people. We hope it is not just an electioneering statement and that the rights of the people working on the land will be guaranteed.
Incra has already expressed interested in acquiring the property for purposes of agrarian reform. We challenge the Senate, so anxious to make complaints and CPIs [Ed. congressional investigations], to investigate the origin of the properties that resulted in the Fazenda Santa Monica.
The irrigation project in the region Apodi in Rio Grande do Norte, is another emblematic case. In the Northeast, there are many irrigation projects administered by DNOCS [Ed. National Department for Projects Against drought] and Codevasf [Ed. Development Company for the Valleys of San Francisco and Parnaíba], always serving the interests of politicians or businessmen in the exportation of fruit.
It was found that in some of these projects for more than 80,000 vacant lots that could be distributed to the workers who benefited from the reform pf land and water, and produce food for the domestic market. On several occasions President Dilma Rousseff pledged to distribute these lots. But mysteriously the strength of their conservative political allies so far prevented the distribution of these areas.
And the most pathetic case is the Apodi project where DNOCS expropriated with symbolic values over 300 families of small farmers, and after the installation of irrigation channels, delivered the area to the south entrepreneurs through public announcements, conditioned on the production of bananas and pineapples for export. This project was always oddly sponsored by Congressman Henrique Alves (PMDB-RN).
The trade union and social movement in the region requires that at least the evicted families and other landless families in the region have the guaranteed settlement when the project is ready.
Pesticides and Slave Labor
Some other serious situations affecting all the Brazilian people. One is the increased use of poisons in agriculture that ends at your table. Agribusiness in Brazil became the world's largest consumer of poisons in agriculture. We consume 20% of all world production of poisons, although produce only 3% of all global food production.
Nine transnational companies and one Brazilian company are responsible for this, and accumulate billions of profits every year. Meanwhile, Brazil gets the environmental liability, since the poisons kill biodiversity, contaminate the soil, water, the environment and end up on your table. Atéo National Cancer Institute (INCA) has warned that every year about 540 thousand Brazilians are suffering from cancer, and about 40% of them will die, and that a major cause is contaminated food, or tobacco and alcohol , which is also contaminated.
With regard to human rights, the Federal Police have located and freed slave labor workers in more than 300 farms across the country. But despite the determination of the Federal Constitution, the ruralistas [Ed. rural block in Congress consisting of large landowners] prevented the legislation during the last 12 years of PEC do Trabalho Escravo [Ed. Proposed Constitutional Amendment on Slave Labor which would require the expropriation of land using slave labor], and even approve the draft regulations, no farm was expropriated since 1988 which was found to have slave labor.
This is a picture of the most recent and severe cases that affect the lives of workers in the countryside and in the city.
If you are sympathetic to the workers who occupied the Farms of Santa Monica and Araupel, send your message directly to local governors, or you can send your support to the firstname.lastname@example.org and we will resend.
National Secretariat of the MST