[12/07/07] MST Informa #146: Our Solidarity with the Struggle to Defend "Old Chico"

Dear Friends of the MST,

We express complete solidarity with the protest of Bishop Luiz Flávio Cappio, who has been fasting for more than 10 days against the proposed transposition of the São Francisco River. The Bishop is truly a committed and courageous Brazilian. We want to publicize the letter that La Via Campesina sent out this week in support of the Bishop’s struggle.

On December 4, La Via Campesina and the National Forum of Agrarian Reform and Justice in the Countryside sent two letters to the Secretary General of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB), Dom Dimas Barbosa, who committed himself to the the struggle of Bishop Cappio. Dom Dimas Barbosa has also pledged to dialogue with the Federal Government.

This is not the first time that Bishop Dom Luiz has taken such a radical step to defend the poor. In 2005, in the attempt to bar the transposition project, he spent 11 days fasting in Cabrobó, Pernambuco. For Cappio, the transposition is an unjust project since “it is not for 12 million people, it is for a small group of capital interests, for large corporations, it is not for the poor”.

For us in the MST, the action of Dom Cappio reflects the struggle undertaken by the social movements in the countryside against agribusiness and the hydro-business in Brazil; the actions of which destroy the environment, biodiversity and shelter of millions of rural workers, quilombolas, indigenous people and river communities. For example, construction of the eastern axis of the transposition can displace numerous indigenous settlements.

We demand that the Federal Government immediately halt the transposition work, and begin a full dialog with civil society. This dialogue should aims to develop tangible alternatives for the Semi-Arid region. The letter follows:


National Secretariat of the MST

Letter in Support of Dom Luiz Cappio

La Via Campesina of Brazil, composed of the social movements in the countrysides and the organizations MAB, MPA, MMC, MST, FEAB, PJR, CIMI, QUILOMBOLAS, CPT, meeting in its national plenary in Goiânia, stands in solidarity and joins your action against the transposition of the São Francisco river.

We also know that it is a gesture in favor of harmonious development with the semi-arid region of Brazil, in defense of the democratization of water through the viaducts proposed by the National Agency of Water, in the Atlas of the Northeast, supporting the capture of rain water to drink and produce for the rural communities, supporting the revitalization of the São Francisco River, reaffirming our commitment to agrarian reform that has been delayed but has never lost its significance.

The works of the Atlas and the initiatives of the Coalition of the Semi-Arid Region can benefit 42 million people of the Northeast, almost four times more than the 12 million that the government’s marketing boasts of.

In truth, La Via Campesina sees in Dom Luiz Cappio's act our struggle against agribusiness and water business throughout the country. We see in his act our defense of land, water, and biodiversity as goods belonging to our people.

We know that behind the transposition lie the large national and international economic interests, the same ones which are interested in the factories of the Madeira River, in the mass production of ethanol, in the expoitation of our forests, and in the other natural riches of our nation.

The same ones who take over the natural wealth of Brazil also take over the wealth of Latin America and the other regions of the planet.

For all these reasons, the significance of his action is greater than the man himself. He signals the anguish of those who see our wealth being robbed for centuries by an egoistic elite who are indifferent to the fate of our people. From one huge project to another, the Northeast continues to have one of the worst human development indexes on the planet.

We want investment in infrastructure to be decentralized, respectful of the environment, and beneficial for poor people, not for the same old and new colonels.

Despite the official propaganda, the transposition will not create the conditions for access to water for the neediest people in the semi-arid region but will furnish water that is subsidized by the Brazilian people to the large agribusiness corporations in the Northeast.

Brother Dom Luiz, please accept our fraternal solidarity. We are going to transform our solidarity into a practical struggle and into a call to all people, to our national territory, showing society and the federal government that his struggle is our struggle: the search for a country that is just, sovereign, and environmentally sustainable.

Know that we are at your side, active throughout Brazil, in defense of your life that today is totally bound up with the itself and the fate of the São Francisco River. Your fast signifies an act of love for our people and our country.

Goiânia, November 29, 2007.

Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra – MST

Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens – MAB

Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores – MPA

Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas – MMC

Pastoral da Juventude Rural – PJR

Comissão Pastoral da Terra – CPT

Conselho Indigenista Missionário – CIMI

Federação dos Estudantes de Agronomia do Brasil – FEAB