MST Urgent Actions

[01/16/08] URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Letters Needed to Stop Continued Criminalization of MST Activists

Dear Friends of the MST,

We are writing to update you on the situation in Brazil regarding Syngenta, and to tell you about the next steps in the struggle to punish the transnational for its crimes. As you know, the most recent occupation of a site owned by Syngenta, carried out on October 21st, 2007, was met with extreme violence on the part of NF Security company, which Syngenta had contracted to guard its property. During the altercation, activist Valmir Mota de Oliveira (“Keno”) was killed and several people were seriously injured. A security guard was also shot to death by other guards. Despite evidence to the contrary, the prosecutor's office has pressed baseless yet serious charges against several of the MST/Via Campesina activists who were victims of the Syngenta-sponsored attacks.

The prosecutors’ office asserts that the activists are responsible for the October 21st deaths and injuries because, by participating in the land occupation, they assumed the risk that their activities would cause violence. The prosecutors even went so far as to request preventative prison terms for two MST/Via Campesina leaders in order to “maintain public order.” Luckily, the judge denied the preventative prison request, but charges are still being pressed against the leaders and other activists. Also, the gunmen who were being held in prison were released.

We are also extremely concerned about aspects of the police report which were ignored by the prosecutors, which increases the likelihood that the instigators of the crimes will go unpunished. Although the police report uncovered evidence which would allow for the indictment of Alessandro Meneghel, president of the Rural Society of Western Paraná (a landowner militia group with ties to Syngenta), the prosecutors’ office did not charge him with any crimes associated with the October 21st violence. Additionally, the police report noted that some of the gunmen had fled in a car belonging to Syngenta, and that it was a well-known fact in the area that the company used armed guards to protect its property. Additionally, at a hearing in late December, the owner of NF Security testified that Syngenta had not terminated its contract with him. In spite of all these facts, the prosecutors failed to even mention Syngenta in their indictment.

It is essential to continue our pressure onto Syngenta to disband the armed militias that they sponsor, and to ensure the punishment of those responsible for the aforementioned crimes. We are asking all friends and allies to send letters to the Syngenta headquarters in the United States, with a copy to the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC. **SEE DRAFT LETTER BELOW**

Your action is crucial to ensure an end to injustice and impunity in Brazil’s countryside. Please ACT NOW!

URGENT ACTION NEEDED: Stop the São Francisco river Project, Support Bishop Luiz Flavio Cappio's Hunger Strike

Dear Friends of the MST

As we conveyed in the most recent MST Informa, many NGOs and social movements in Brazil are against government's plan to redirect water from the São Francisco river. According to some estimates, the project will spend billions out of the public coffers, drastically change ecosystems, cause migration of peoples, and bring few benefits for those who most need
the water. The beneficiaries will be the big agricultural companies.

Two years ago, the Catholic bishop of the diocese of Barra, Bahia, Luiz Flavio Cappio, known as Frei Luiz, took a bold initiative and began a hunger strike as means to divert national attention to the project, and to ask the government to halt the project.

[04/17/2007] MST Asks for Your Support, "Send Letters, MST Agrarian Reform Proposals, to President Lula TODAY!"

Dear Friends of the MST,

As you know, our movement is mobilizing throughout Brazil for another campaign demanding Agrarian Reform in our country. As you also know, April 17th is the International Day of Peasant Struggle as called for by La Via Campesina International and for that reason in many countries of the world, similar campaigns and protests are being organized by peasant organizations...

So this year on April 17th, besides mobilizations, we are asking our Friends abroad, our friends in Congress and in each state capital to send a letter to President Lula with the proposals of the MST for agrarian reform. If you can, no matter where you live outside of Brazil, sign the sample letter to the President [INCLUDED], or write your own, and send it to the local Brazilian consulate or embassy and/or send emails directly to the Palacio do Planalto in Brasilia.

[03/29/2007] Call for April 17: International Day of Peasant’s Struggle

The 17th of April is the International Day of Peasant’s Struggle, established after the massacre of 19 landless peasants belonging to the Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil on the 17th of April 1996 during the second conference of La Via Campesina in Tlaxcala Mexico.

In commemoration of the International Peasant’s Struggle Day, La Via Campesina and its allies are organizing activities and actions all over the world. Peasants and friends will rally around the following demands:

[04/03/2007] URGENT ACTION SUCCESS: Judge Accepts Request, Releases MST Prisoner in Pernambuco!

Dear Friends of the MST,

Today, April the 3rd, the judge responsible for the 2nd judicial district in Recife, Pernambuco (PE), accepted the request for the provisional release of Landless Rural Worker, Iroilton Pereira de Morais.

The MST militant had been imprisoned since March the 8th, the day he was detained by military police in Recife while participating in a march to commemorate International Women’s Day.

We send thanks to everyone who helped secure the freedom of another one of our colleagues, criminalized and improperly treated by the authorities solely because they are active in our social movements.

In Struggle,
Land of Rights Legal Team

[SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN] Compensation & settlement for the families victimized at the Felisburgo Massacre **ACT NOW**

Dear Friends of the MST,

The third week of November marks two years since the Massacre of Felisburgo (MG). On November 20, 2004, 18 hooded killers, coordinated by the rancher Adriano Chafik, went to the Promised Land encampment and shot at men, women, and children. The landless workers Iraguiar Ferreira da Silva, Miguel José dos Santos, Francisco Nascimento Rocha, Juvenal Jorge Silva and Joaquim José dos Santos were killed. Many people were wounded and 100 families lost their homes.

[09/30/06] Update on Syngenta Seeds Occupation. Lies, Lies, and More Lies. **ACT NOW**

Dear Friends of the MST and Via Campesina,

In response to the international campaign Terra de Direitos launched to
support the Via Campesina’s occupation of Syngenta Seeds, yesterday the
multinational corporation published a statement in three of Brazil’s
largest daily newspapers, including the Estado de São Paulo....

[SOLIDARITY CAMPAIGN] The Chico Mendes Encampment, here we produce dignity! **DRAFT LETTER INCLUDED**

For more than two years, nearly 500 rural landless workers from the Chico Mendes Encampment have fought for the ownership for 580 hectares of land of the Engenho São João. This is part of the Usina Tiúma, owned by the Votorantim Group, one the businesses that owns many plantations and large estates in Brazil...The farm has been idle for 17 years, since the Usina Tiúma closed. Some of those now living on the land are the ex-employees of the farm. After its closure, the workers no longer have fixed employment and are without work and homes.

[09/15/06] VICTORY: MST’s National Coordinator has decree of imprisonment REVOKED **THANKS TO ALL WHO SENT LETTERS**

Friends of the MST,

We are pleased to report that Minister Nilson Naves, of the Supreme Justice Tribunal, has just revoked the decree of preventative imprisonment filed against our comrade, Jaime Amorim, member of the MST’s National Coordinating Body for the state of Pernambuco.

This is an enormous victory against the oligarchs of Pernambuco, and it is the result of the solidarity demonstrated by all who joined us in the fight to defend Jaime Amorim!

We send thanks to all who prepared and sent letters to Minister Naves, and we share a warm embrace with you all.

- Human Rights Sector of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST)