Emergency Plan for People’s Agrarian Reform: for work, food, housing and dignified life
In an exclusive interview, Kelli Mafort, from the national coordination of the MST, talks about the National Plan to be launched this Friday (June 5)
The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) launched on Friday (June 5) the Emergency Plan for People’s Agrarian Reform, taking into account the consequences caused by the pandemic of the new coronavirus.
Kelli Mafort, from the national coordination of the MST, helped in the construction of measures that aim to promote job creation, produce food for the people and guarantee income and conditions for families to live in dignity. Check out the interview!
Página do MST: How did this Emergency Plan for People’s Agrarian Reform come about?
Kelli Mafort (KM): The Emergency Plan for Peoplke’s Agrarian Reform is a construction of the Landless Movement for Brazilian society and is within the context of the pandemic, which exposed the various contradictions of capital, especially in relation to social inequality.
Brazil is among the 20 most unequal countries in the world and of these, 8 are in Latin America. We have here a situation that was already dramatic in relation to the working class from the point of view of labor relations: we recently had measures such as the Labor Reform, which practically precarious working conditions for most of the Brazilian people. Today we have about 60% of the workforce in the area of informality and growing social inequality, in which thousands of people do not have access to food, live together and face the problem of hunger on a daily basis, others also do not have access to water.
Now, with the pandemic, these issues put workers around the world, especially blacks and the poorest, in an extremely serious situation. According to a survey carried out recently by the UN, 500 million more people will enter the extreme poverty range, added to the 1 billion people in the world who already lived with problems of lack of access to food, lack of access to drinking water. , forced to forced immigration and suffering from all kinds of social vulnerability.
The pandemic exposes this serious social problem, which has to do with the crisis of the capital system itself, which is a political, economic, environmental and social crisis. The pandemic is also due to a huge imbalance between capital and nature, a destructive way in which capital and its companies tend to generate many pandemics. That is why we are now facing COVID-19 with a huge human cost, lives that are being claimed, deaths that could be avoided and that is why we need emergency measures.
How does the Emergency Plan for People’s Agrarian Reform fit into this context?
KM: The MST has a construction of 36 years of history in defense of Agrarian Reform, and at the 6th MST Congress we defined, in 2014, the construction of the People’s Agrarian Reform as a necessary measure, not only to meet the needs of Landless workers, but also to be able to bring together more people from society, especially people in urban centers - since here in Brazil we have 85% of people living in urban centers. We seek to involve the majority of Brazilian society in the defense of natural goods and, therefore, the defense is not only the democratization of access to land, but also other relationships with natural goods that balance the human relationship with nature, which are not destructive as it is this logic of capital.
Therefore, the Plan emerges as an emergency, because we continue to defend, from the strategic point of view, the People’s Agrarian Reform as a fundamental measure. However, there are now urgent issues that need to be taken to address the problem of the virus, but also the problem of hunger. And, in our view, the People’s Agrarian Reform and the emergency measures of this reform are an efficient way for us to be able to deal with these human needs, both in terms of access to work, food, housing, but above all to life. Landless workers understand that we are in a condition of struggle in defense of life, we live in a system that kills us in various ways and these different ways have to do with this characteristic of the capital crisis as well.
And how is this plan structured?
KM: Right at the beginning of the pandemic, the Brasil Popular and Povo Sem Medo fronts (Brazil Popular Front and the People Without Fear Front) joined other organizations in Brazilian society to be able to launch an emergency platform with measures related to the economy, work, food (see Emergency Measures to Confront COIVD-19), and the protection of people from the countryside and the city , in front of COVID-19. Based on this emergency platform, we built, with the various organizations, some measures, with the people of the countryside, water and forests, the Via Campesina, but also the whole unitary field of rural unionism, wage workers, fishermen, peasant women, indigenous people, quilombolas. We were building a broad plan brought in our second seminar, Terra e Território, in which we pointed out the fundamental issues of the countryside today and how much we would also have to articulate ourselves as resistance.
But in this plan, we want to highlight the theme of Agrarian Reform and how it, inserted in this broader context of the Brazilian countryside, can effectively contribute to saving lives immediately and also in the long term. Our plan consists of four fundamental pillars.
• EARTH AND WORK
We understand that it is essential to be able to set up Agrarian Reform families, and our country has an enormous amount of land available for that. The proof was the rush of ruralists to recently approve PL 2633, which intended to collect 65 million hectares of public land in the Union and pass it on to land grabbers, ruralists, and a good part of it in Amazonian states, although it could be applied in throughout the national territory. Now, if there are 65 million hectares of public land for squatters, invaders, companies that destroy the environment, that persecute the people of the countryside, that are involved in practices of our natural goods, how come there is no land for Agrarian Reform?
So one of the themes that is there in our Plan, in this item of land and work, is the immediate collection of vacant public lands and the destination for Agrarian Reform. We also have several companies that have debts with the Union for tax evasion. Among these companies, 729 companies jointly own 6 million hectares of land and owe these alone an amount of R $ 200 billion (approximately US $40.4 billion) to the public coffers. So the emergency measure would be for the debt of these companies to be collected immediately and converted into land, for these companies to hand over their land as part of the payment of these debts they owe to the Union and for families to be settled immediately.
Another important point is also that we settle families close to urban centers. There is a need, given the concentration of people in large cities and in capitals and urban centers, so we also need to carry out Agrarian Reform in these urban centers. And it is possible, in a smaller fiscal module, adapted to reality, to be able to do within an agroecology, agroforestry planning, which has an abundant production of food, income generation, that these families also have the right to land, work and food . We also immediately demand suspension of evictions and repossession. It is absurd, in the midst of this pandemic in which one of the measures is to make social isolation, people are unable to do this isolation because they have no home. And the precarious houses that exist in the camps, the urban and rural canvas shacks, are also now being evicted. So immediate suspension of evictions at the national level is necessary.
Still on this subject, we also need to ensure that indigenous peoples and quilombola peoples are demarcated and recognized in their territories. We reject and demand urgent measures to guarantee the physical integrity of the indigenous people, because we know that the contamination of COVID-19 is directly related to mining activities and the invasion of these areas by ruralists. So it is also very important to state that this is not just a matter of the political will of the federal government, which is currently an anti-agrarian reform government, but we have to put pressure on society in relation to these issues.
• HEALTHY FOOD PRODUCTION
We defend the emergency resumption of the Food Acquisition Program (PAA), whose political soul was scrapped during the Temer government and also by the Bolsonaro government. Minister Teresa Cristina's announcement of resources for the PAA was not carried out, it did not arrive in practice for farmers who need this policy as a fundamental measure to be able to ensure income for producers and, at the same time, a way direct food that reaches the people who need it most in the city, through the donation of food to entities that serve the socially vulnerable public, but also the food banks, which we need urgent food;
The second measure is that the PNAE (National School Feeding Program) is also ensured now during the pandemic, discussing real food, in order to guarantee the immunity of our children, adolescents and young people, students from schools that have access the real food: eating fruits and vegetables and being able to increase your immunity.
Many governments are transforming the PNAE into a card measure, of negligible value, in order to be able to buy food and we know that the increase is absurd in this period of the pandemic because there has been speculation about the price of food. An example of this is beans, whose kilo is around R $ 12, some places reaching R $ 14, so there is a lot of speculation. We fight to ensure that PNAE is guaranteed as real food for families and that contracts already made in the municipalities are not interrupted or suspended in order to be able to provide this food in the families' homes.
Here, too, we advocate that, in the midst of this pandemic process, resources be released for a national agroecology plan, guaranteeing immunity for the Brazilian people and access to real food without pesticides. We demand an incentive for poison-free production, and this poison-free food is certainly among small farmers and farmers, who are earmarked for resources for agro-ecological urban gardens. We have all the technical capacity to be able to guide these urban gardens to be made quickly in various lands, empty, abandoned places or even in the area. There is a lot of possibility of having urban gardens on municipal land in order to increase production and access to production and food.
And it is also essential to have a special credit line outside the beaucracy, not necessarily linked to the issue of DAP, which is the Declaration of Aptitude to the National Program for Strengthening Family Agriculture (PRONAF), but which is a credit line that is not linked to previous debts, and that this line can ensure food production at the tip. We have seen important actions in the field of solidarity.
These solidarity actions are very important, but for them to continue happening, there must be production. And abundant production. For that, you need stimulation at the tip.
• PROTECT NATURE, WATER AND BIODIVERSITY
We need to care for our natural assets, for nature, encourage the planting of trees, but also the proliferation of agroforestry. It is a way for us to guarantee and produce abundant food and at the same time preserve forests, areas, so that we can restore a balance, face the issues of climate change. That is why it is important for us to face all this deforestation policy that was carried out there by the Ministry of the Environment, by Minister Ricardo Salles, a genocide of life, not only of the life of the people of the countryside, but also of the whole our biodiversity.
• DIGNIFIED LIFE CONDITIONS IN THE COUNTRYSIDE
We have to guarantee to the populations in the countryside of settlements and encampments, decent housing so that the youth also remain in the countryside, not allowing any child to be unassisted in this pandemic process in relation to the rural schools. They are differentiated and we know that there was a previous policy of closing these schools. So here we talk about PRONERA (National Education Program on Agrarian Reform) and that Fundeb (Fund for Maintenance and Development of Basic Education) is renewed. We know that Fundeb's resources are essential to guarantee basic education resources in the municipalities. The Landless Movement is in several municipalities where schools will close, as they will not be able to pay education workers.
Another point that we highlight here is the topic of the debate on facing domestic violence. This measure of social isolation has unfortunately contributed to a reduction in the channels for reporting domestic violence, which affects children, adolescents, the elderly, LGBT subjects and also women. So we need immediate networks that can give voice to these complaints. The mechanisms we have are insufficient, they do not dialogue with the reality of the countryside, where several police stations were closed, so we need to have policies focused on the reality of the countryside and they are urgent because we have several women being raped, various forms of violence, physical, psychological, patrimonial, and we need to face.
And, finally, to strengthen and expand the Unified Health System (SUS) in the countryside, especially the family health teams. We know that COVID-19 is a complex disease, mainly with its worsening in cases with pulmonary connection and its effects with risk aggravators, so it can be prevented with very simple, guidance measures. It is essential that the family health teams are in the countryside and are strengthened, with popular community agents. So we advocate emergency measures that can strengthen SUS in the field, through family health teams.