[12/09/05] MST Informa #105 SPECIAL EDITION It is the latifundio owners and their defenders who are heinous

It is the latifundio owners and their defenders who are heinous

By Marcos Rogério de Souza*

The Congressional Committee of Inquiry on Land Issues (CPMI) concluded its activities, approving a lateral report that criminalizes the MST’s activities and impedes progress for agrarian reform. The document is so reactionary that it ends up recommending the approval of two bills that classify the behavior of those who occupy land in order to pressure the government to make agrarian reform as "heinous and terrorist acts."

Prepared by rural deputy Abelardo Lupion, who is known in the Brazilian parliament as an intransigent defender of agricultural credit swindlers and rural landowners accused of raising private militias, the report dedicates more than 200 of its 365 pages to the MST. Two thirds of the remaining pages describe the activities of the CPMI and reproduce the TCU’s opinion on the super-invoicing in expropriation and other irregularities in the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform’s activities during the FHC administration (curiously, the text does not explore irregularities related to the previous administration).

The entire Brazilian agrarian problem, including the processes of agrarian reform and the juridical land order, is treated in less than forty pages. The document barely dedicates a single line to the analysis of violence in the countryside, to the existence of private militias, to illegal land appropriation, slave labor, or landowners’ movements. In regard to Pernambuco, for example, it lists only the death of a soldier of the military police, omitting that, from 2003 until today, 15 leaders of rural workers have been killed (three of these in the last two months). In regard to Pará, there is no mention of conflicts, illegal land appropriation, or even the death of Sister Dorothy Stang. The approved report’s authoritarian conception, both bigoted and fascist, is evident in the principal argument used for the purpose of criminalizing the landless, which is repeated to exhaustion: the MST is “a revolutionary movement of the left‿, “its goal is socialist revolution‿ and its philosophy “is leftist and revolutionary‿. Also, without any foundation, it states that the MST “does not hesitate to deviate resources, public or private.‿

Whatever similarity this has with the movement aimed at criminalizing the left, particularly the PT, which is being accomplished by the Brazilian right through the postal service, bingo houses, and the media, is not mere coincidence. The report is explicit in its proposal to eradicate the MST, the left, and socialists. It completely ignores that the Federal Constitution guarantees democracy, political pluralism, and the free manifestation of thought and is the reason that simply being socialist or possessing a leftist ideology does not constitute a crime.
The opinion is prepared by Deputy Abelardo Lupion and, in its classification of land occupation as a “heinous crime‿ and a “terrorist act‿, becomes the first official document of the Brazilian Congress to incorporate the “Bush doctrine‿ of “the war against terror‿. When it recommends without any basis the indictments of ANCA director Pedro Christofolli, of the former director José Trevisol, and of CONCRAB President Francisco Dalchiavon, all from organizations that work closely with the MST, the report shows its true colors: it is in itself a manifestation of the ruralists’ hate for landless workers.

What is curious is to know that the text was approved instead of a report presented by Deputy João Alfredo. The legitimate supervisor of the CPMI since its formation in December of 2003, João Alfredo participated in all of the trips and public hearings held by the Commission. His report, which includes more than 740 pages and 150 recommendations, reflects the objective for which the CPMI was created, which is to come up with “an ample diagnosis of the Brazilian agrarian structure, the processes of agrarian and urban reform, workers’ social movements, along with landowners’ movements‿. It analyzes agrarian structure; identifies causes of violence in the countryside; treats slave labor; examines workers’ and landowners’ social movements equally; analyzes agrarian reform processes; looks at land supply and demand; reflects on the legislation directed at agrarian reform processes, presenting proposals for its improvement; and dedicates more than 300 pages to the analysis of the agrarian question in the states. Aside from this, it analyzes the urban question, in particular the violent displacement of more than 14.000 families of the Sonho Real occupation in Goiânia.

By rejecting a substantial opinion that matched the agrarian reality and that offered proposals to support agrarian reform, the majority of the members of CPMI chose not to contribute to the guarantee of the rights of those workers fighting for land in the countryside and in cities. On the other hand, by approving a lateral report, this same majority chose the path of making ownership rights absolute and of placing the responsibility for the violence in the countryside in the hands of the victims. The approval of a report that is so incredibly reactionary shows that the ruralist faction continues to be one of the most influential interest groups in the National Congress.

The approved report really and truly is heinous. The document criminalizes social movements associated with land reform and favors unproductive large estates. It represents an ode to violence. Instead of contributing to a solution for the agrarian problem, it serves more as an obstacle in the path of the implementation of agrarian reform and of social justice in the Brazilian countryside.

* Marcos Rogério de Souza is mastering in law at UNESP – Franca Campus and Inspector of the Report of the Land CPMI of the National Congress

Translated by Friends of the MST volunteer Kristen Schlemmer