Against land grabbing, MST receives tribute at São Paulo Legislative Assembly for its struggle for agrarian reform

Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Info Source: 
Lucas Weber | Brasil de Fato | São Paulo | Edited by: Thalita Pires | Translated by: Ana Paula Rocha | Original URL:

Activists from all over São Paulo got together, as well as state and federal deputies; the session marks MST's Red April

The Landless Workers' Movement (MST, in Portuguese) brought together some of its members from different regions of the state of São Paulo to receive a tribute at the São Paulo Legislative Assembly, also known as Alesp. In addition to recognizing the movement, the session served as a protest against the São Paulo state law dubbed "Land Grabbing Law".

The ceremony took place amid Red April, a national day of struggle that the MST organizes every year in the same month in which the Eldorado do Carajás massacre took place in 1996. This year, the motto is "Occupy to feed Brazil."

Gilmar Mauro, a member of the MST's national coordination, celebrated the tribute organized by state deputy Simão Pedro (Workers’ Party), which was signed by all Alesp’s members of the Workers’ Party (also known as PT), Socialism and Liberty Party (Psol) and Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB).

According to Mauro, the act is a way of "spreading the explanation that we are organizing the day of struggle to produce food for Brazil. Nobody occupies [lands] because they think it's nice to stay in shacks. That’s the only tactic we've found to settle more than 400,000 families in 40 years," the leader recalls.

While MST activists were arriving at Alesp, approximately 100 kilometers away, 50 Military Police vehicles surrounded the occupation the MST started on Monday in Agudos, near the town of Bauru (São Paulo state). According to the movement, similar mobilizations have taken place in 11 states.

Incra commits to evaluating occupied lands

Sabrina Diniz, the superintendent of the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra, in Portuguese) in São Paulo, said at the event that the institute repudiated the arbitrary actions of the security forces in areas occupied by the MST on Monday in Campinas and Agudos. "The MST has been under pressure from the Military Police with threats of eviction without a court order," he said.

"On behalf of the federal government, I'm here to say that occupying land is not a crime. We thank the MST for showing us what is possibly an unproductive area in the Campinas region. We know that this is a region where the struggle for land is very tough," said Diniz.

"We will notify the owner or owners of the area in Campinas so that we can carry out an inspection and identify whether it is unproductive land that should be earmarked for land reform. We will keep a close eye on the ongoing occupation of the Globo Suinã farm in Agudos and monitor this process," she added.


State deputy Simão Pedro (Workers’ Party, São Paulo state) explains that the idea for the tribute came up last year when the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI, in Portuguese) into the MST was filed with the Chamber of Deputies. "I presented the idea to the movement, got the go-ahead and rushed to file it here [Alesp]," he explains.

Pedro argues that the tribute "isn’t a way of confronting the far right. “We do confront the ideas big landowners spread, saying that the MST is a violent movement," he says.

One of the founding members of MST when the movement was born in Cascavel (Paraná state) in 1984, Renier Parren was invited to join the session. He came from Andradina, in São Paulo state. "We are very touched to receive this honor, but that’s not for me; that’s for the movement. The MST is very important in building popular agrarian reform in our country. We have a cause, and we're going to fight for many, many years, for as long as necessary."

The event also paid tribute to other historic MST leaders, some of them posthumously. 

All those present received a diploma signed by state deputy Simão Pedro in recognition of the struggle for agrarian reform.

Land grabbing in São Paulo

The event also served as a protest against São Paulo's state law, dubbed "Land Grabbing Law", which allows the government of Tarcísio de Freitas (Republicans Party) to hand over vacant land to landowners at a discount of up to 90%.

The text was approved in 2022, under then-governor Rodrigo Garcia (PSDB), but gained momentum under Freitas, who presented a bill last year to extend the law until 2026.

"In São Paulo, areas are being handed over, especially in the Ponta do Paranapanema, to farmers who grabbed that land in the past, so the government is grabbing land that should be handed over to agrarian reform," Gilmar Mauro criticized.