Statement by Joao Pedro Stedile in meeting with President Dilma

Thursday, January 26, 2012

jpsTranscription of the talk by João Pedro Stedile, of the MST, in the meeting between Dilma and representatives of civil society held on January 26 2012 during the Thematic Social Forum in Porto Alegre.

 “In the name of the rural social movements, I want to begin by complimenting our president for having chosen Porto Alegre and not Davos. You appear to be really courageous. But my obligation here, in the name of the rural social movements – without claiming to represent all of them – is to put forward some ideas in this spirit of open and frank dialog.

I promise not to speak about agrarian reform because it is paralyzed, despite the fact that there are still 180,000 families camped alongside the highways who need at least a humanitarian solution. But since the topic here is Rio + 20,  we analyze within the MST as everything that we learn in the tradition of socialist and Christian struggle, that the best preaching is done by example. That Brazil can only lead an international process to defend our planet, our biodiversity, if we provide the example.

We have a national agenda that needs to be resolved. The first item is that we cannot accept the changes that were agreed upon in the Senate for the Forest Law. We are going to reveal your email address so the Brazilian people can write you to ask you to veto some parts of the Law that you yourself promised to veto during your campaign, and which we cannot accept .

We cannot accept the amnesty for environmental crimes by the big estate owners,  just as we cannot accept a reduced size for the legal reserves, even in the four modules. Because it gives an opening to international capital to continue deforesting the Cerrado and Amazonia. Our policy – we hope you agree – is for zero deforestation. There is no need to cut down a single additional tree to continue increasing the production of food, including in much better conditions.

The second item: we need to have a large national reforestation program for family farming, controlled by women – since women are now in charge in this country – a program so that each family farm can reforest two hectares. This is a pittance. The National Development Bank (Banco National de Desenvolvimento, BNDES) gives so much money to corporations, it ended up funding America Online, which went bankrupt…Why not give money so that family farmers can reforest our country, which would be a contribution to humanity?

Third item: we urgently need a national program to stimulate agroecology. A program of public policies that can recover a healthy agriculture, which plants foods without poisons. The more agrotoxins we put in our food, the greater the incidence of cancer. It’s a requirement to produce healthy food and to do this, the techniques of agroecology are the most recommended. But the government is missing in action and we need to have public policies that compensate and encourage these practices.

Fourth item: the Ministry of National Integration announced that it is going to irrigate 200,000 hectares in the Northeast. Excellent news.  But then Cutrale will go there, the businessmen from the South, and this is a shame, Madame President. We call on you in the name of the people from the Northeast, we need to distribute these 200,000 hectares to make settlements. Two hectares per family, you will settle 100,000 farmers of the Northeast who are going to stay near the water and resolve three problems: food, water, and employment.  You don’t need to bring businessmen from the South. If not, we are going to occupy their lands.

Fifth point: we cannot accept that foreign governments gave $700 million to the Amazonia Fund and the money is held up there in the BNDES and because of the bank’s bureaucracy only 10% of the money has been applied. And even then of the 23 projects, the majority are for the  governments of Amazonia, of Rondônia, and Amapa. Look, the purpose of this money is for Amazonia to recover, these are social projects, it’s not for the government. The government has other mechanisms.

Finally, we cannot put on an environmental conference while our Guarani-Kaiowa brothers continue to die. This is a debt of honor. We cannot accept that agribusiness continues killing indigenous people who are the true guardians of our biodiversity and of the territory. So if you only resolve the problems of the Guarani-Kaiowa in Mato Gross do Sul, you’ll go straight to heaven. Now if you do not resolve them, there’s no use in speaking about biodiversity or signing a document. It’s the same thing with the Afro-descendant communities. For the last two years, INCRA has not legalized any Afro-descendant area. And the greatest social debt that we have, the country was built with slave labor and now we cannot recognize such an area? We have to save the legalization of the Afro-descendant lands.”