[06/21/07] MST Informa #135: On Our 5th National Congress
Dear Friends of the MST,
Two years of study and discussions led up to the 5th National Congress. For five days during the Congress, we studied the situation in agriculture, the political situation, and the challenges of the Brazilian people to build a sovereign, just nation. There was also time to strengthen ourselves through the mistica, to remember the comrades who could not be with us because of the savagery of the latifundio and of agribusiness, and to fraternize and celebrate our victories.
Besides defining our political lines and the tasks for the next few years, the 5th National Congress also approved our Agrarian Program, a set of measures that we consider necessary in order to transform the land structure and ensure that agriculture provides security and food sovereignty. We also approved the Letter/Proposal that was delivered to President Lula on April 17 and approved the Letter from the 5th Congress which brings together our tactics and priorities for struggle. Since the Program was defined, in the struggles and confrontations that we have had during the last period, we understand that it is impossible to struggle for Agrarian Reform without taking on the economic model that is imposed on society.
The way the countryside is structured today, there is no room for the small farmer. The countryside has been transformed into a place for the production of raw materials for export, based on large-scale monoculture, on intensive use of machinery and agro-toxins – on expelling manual labor and on worsening the environment – and financed by international finance capital. Agribusiness, as this model is called, is largely responsible for shackling Agrarian Reform which we in the MST and social movements of La Via Campesina are advocating.
To struggle against this model, we have to unify our forces. In this sense, we reaffirm that it is not possible to build a dignified future for people in cities without Agrarian Reform that produces healthy, high-quality food for the urban population, capable of halting and reversing the rural exodus and strengthening the internal market. We not only insist on the alliance between rural and urban workers in order to carry out Agrarian Reform, but we also know that without this unity it will not be possible to build a Popular Project for Brazil.
The slogan for our 5th Congress, “Agrarian Reform: for Social Justice and Popular Sovereignty” makes explicit the dream and the struggle of those who believe that there can only be social justice if there is a broad Agrarian Reform that makes possible the democratization of access to land and the elimination of poverty in the countryside. Besides this, for a people to be able to be sovereign, it must exercise control over its production of food and energy, for these to fulfill their social functions, in benefit of the people themselves – and not to create profits for a few shareholders of the large banks and multi-national corporations.
We also reaffirm the need to invest in education and in communication as tools in the struggle and to broaden the defense of sustainable development, capable of ensuring the survival of the environment and of those who live in it. We believe that the Brazilian people can decide the paths for their destiny. To discuss, give opinions, and decide about the issues that affect their lives and future generations. In this sense, the 5th Congress was important for the Brazilian workers struggle, not only for the size – there were almost 18,000 delegates from 24 Brazilian states, but also for the strength of the discussions which are moving us forward.
We know that the road is difficult. But we don’t lack motivation and living examples, such as Elizabeth Teixeira, leader of the Peasant Leagues, who was with us during the Congress to bring her experience and mistica. Or Senor Luiz Beltrame, 100 years old, an example of participation in two national marches. And many, many friends who were with us and left us with words and gestures of solidarity and commitment. As the poet Thiago de Mello teaches us in his verses:
“Starting right now,
freedom will be alive and transparent
as a fire or a river
and its home with always be
in the hearts of men”
Wishing all of us a good struggle,
National Leadership of the MST
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We would also like to share the following 'Carta do Congresso', which summarizes our commitments for the coming years:
LETTER TO THE PEOPLE FROM THE 5TH BRAZIL-MST NATIONAL CONGRESS
We, 17,500 Landless rural workers from 24 states in Brazil, 181 international delegates representing 21 peasant organizations from and friends from several movements and organizations, met in Brazilia from June 10th to 15th, 2007, for the 5th MST National Congress too discuss and analise the problems in our society to find alternative solutions.
We commit to go on helping in the organization of people, to be able to struggle for their rights and against inequelities and social injustices. And we commit to the following:
1.To network with all social sectors and their forms of organizationin to build a popular project to confront neo-liberalism, imperialism and the structural causes of the problems that affect Brazilian people.
2.To defend our rights against any policy that tries to remove rights already conquered.
3.To struggle against privatizations of public patrimony, the transposition of Rio São Francisco and for the reestatization of public companies that have been privatized.
4.To struggle for all latifundios* to be expropriated with priority to those owned by foreign capital and banks.
5.To fight against the logging anf burning of native forests for the expansion of latifundios.
6.To fight against transnational corporations that want to control seeds, Brazilian production and agricultural trade such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, Bungue, ADM, Nestlé, Basf, Bayer, Aracruz, Stora Enso, among others. To stop them from further exployting our nature, our labour and our country.
7.Demand the end of slave labour, the super exploytation of labour and the punishment of the perpetrators. All latifundios that use any form of slave labour must be expropriated, without any compensation, as stated in the Project of Law already aproved in the Senate.
8.To fight against all forms of violence in the countryside, as well as the crimilization of Social Movements. Demand punishment for the murderers – those who hired and the executors – of all those fighting for the Agrarian Reform, which go unpunished or their law suits are paralised in the Judiciary System.
9.To struggle to limit the size of land ownership. For the legal recognition of the historical rights of indigenous peoples and afro-descendents to their land.
10.To fight for the production of agri-fuels to be under controll of peasants and rural workers, as part of the policulture, with environmental protection and seeking the energetic sovereignty of each region.
11.To defend native and creole seeds. To struggle against GMO seeds. Promote the practices of agro-ecology and agricultural techniques that respect the environment. Settlements and rural communities must give priority to produce foods without agro-chemicals for the internal market.
12.To defend fresh water springs, fountains and reservoirs. Water is a common good from Nature and it belongs to humanity. It cannot be privatized by any corporation.
13.To preserve forrests and promote the planting of native and fruit trees, in all settlement areas and rural communities, contributing for the environmental preservation and in the struggle against global warming.
14.To struggle for the working class to have access to basic, secondary and public higher education, of excellent quality and free.
15.To develop different ways of organising campaings and programmes to erradicate illiteracy in rural areas and in Brazilian society as whole, using transformative pedagogical guidelines.
16.Struggle for each settlement or community in the countryside to have their own popular media, such as, free community radio stations. Struggle for the democratization of all media in society contributing to create political awareness and the respect of popular culture.
17.To strengthen the network with rural social movements in Via Campesina Brazil, in all states and regions. To build alliances with all Social Movements and Popular Assemblies in counties, regions and states.
18.Contribute in the construction of all possible mechanisms for the popular integration in Latin-America, through ALBA – Bolivarian Alternativa the Peoples of the Americas. Exercise INTERNATIONAL solidarity with people who suffer the agressions of the empire, specially at the moment, the people in CUBA, HAITI, IRAQ and PALESTINE.
We call the Brazilian people to organise and struggle for a fair and igualitarian society, which will only be made possible with the mobilization of everyone. The great transformations are always the work of people organised. And, we from the MST, commit to never give up and always struggle.
*Latifundio – large land holding
AGRARIAN REFORM: For Social Justice and Popular Sovereingty!
Brasília, June 15th, 2007