Understand the difference between invasion and occupation

Monday, April 15, 2024
Info Source: 
Redação | Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) | Edited by: Lucas Estanislau | Original URL: https://www.brasildefato.com.br/2024/04/15/understand-the-difference-between-invasion-and-occupation

Understanding the difference between invasion and occupation is fundamental to get the struggle for agrarian reform

Within the International Day of Peasant Struggle framework, the Landless Workers' Movement (MST) is carrying out several actions in April to fight for agrarian reform. One of the movement's main fighting tactics is occupying unproductive land without social function. But do you know the difference between occupation and invasion? 

Occupation is a term the MST uses to describe occupying an area that is not fulfilling its social function, such as an idle farm, to produce healthy food. The occupation is legitimate and aims to claim land rights and push for agrarian reform. 

Per the constitutional definition, occupied land must be productive, environmentally sustainable, and free from slave labor. The MST's occupations throughout the country have revealed unmet agreements and productivity concerns, further demonstrating the movement's commitment to operating within legal boundaries. 

Last week, in Itabela, in the extreme south of Bahia, about 400 MST families occupied a farm that, according to the movement, was unproductive. The occupied area belongs to the Executive Committee of the Cocoa Farming Plan (Ceplac), an agency linked to the Ministry of Agriculture. 

The MST claimed the area for agrarian reform, arguing that the land was not fulfilling its social function. The occupation was part of the National Journey of Struggle in Defense of Agrarian Reform, an annual event that takes place in April in memory of the Eldorado dos Carajás massacre in 1996. In the episode in question, 19 workers were killed in the state of Pará. 

On the other hand, invasion refers to taking over areas without considering their social function. This action is considered illegitimate and can generate conflicts and criminalization. Historically, since the European invasion of Brazil, the concentration of lands has been perpetuated in an undemocratic way. 

"The lexemes invade and occupy promote completely different connotations about the meaning of the landless people's actions. Invading means taking something that doesn't belong to me while occupying means being in a vacant place. The spatial element - the earth - and the ideological points of view about it give meaning to one or the other," as Professor Maria Aparecida Baccega mentioned in an article published by Brasil de Fato in 2023. 

Acknowledging this differentiation's significance is imperative to the ongoing land conflict. The Landless Workers' Movement (MST) refrains from invading properties; instead, it occupies unused lands for agricultural production and asserts fundamental rights. This action constitutes the core of the movement for agrarian reform in Brazil.