"The March of the People of God" by Dom Tomas Balduino

by Dom Tomas Balduino*
Source: Adital – May 3, 2005

"Why have thousands of people, men and women, babies and children, adults and seniors, joined together in a large march? To say to the government and to society that Agrarian Reform is necessary and that it must take place and can no longer be delayed. The march will show everyone that the concentration of land on the large estates has to come to an end. It will show that agribusinesses are predators of natural resources, polluters of the environment, the cause of the exodus from rural areas and a subsequent increase in unemployment. Wherever agribusiness goes, it leaves a deeper and deeper mark of violence against workers and of human rights violations. After the daily march, tired from a long day full of obstacles, the mind and the heart of the people are empty and begin to open and to understand the causes that provoke so much suffering for the poor. In the horizon, the eyes of those who march begin to detect a new land in which there is abundance and there is a place for everyone, where everyone can attain with joy the daily bread, and where weariness is transformed into happiness.

This march is also going to leave a lasting and deep mark in the history of the Brazilian people. It is the mark of dignity of those that have been excluded from the feast that has been prepared for everyone. Yet, they do not allow themselves to fall and they fight to gain the space that is theirs, the space from which they have been excluded. It is the mark of faith of those who know that this fight is going to construct a new land.

This march reminds me of the other great march that is written about in the sacred book, the Bible. God’s people gained their freedom from slavery from Pharaoh in Egypt, and after crossing the Red Sea they began the march to conquer the Promised Land. It took 40 long years of walking through the desert, and suffering from thirst, hunger, and internal troubles. They were tempted to seek out and worship other gods who promised them easy answers and offered them solutions without having to confront difficulties. Despite adverse situations, the people continued walking. During this long walk, the identity and the unity of this people began to form and they were able to join together with their energy and with the hope of attaining land, the land that God promised them, a land that runs with milk and honey.

The march of this multitude today, from Goiânia to Brasília, also hopes to conquer land. It is going to take charge of the central power that keeps intact the archaic and unjust structures on which Brazilian society has its foundations; a structure that supports the privileges that benefit a few and are to the detriment of the great majority of the people. It is a system that prefers to use the resources of the people to pay interest on a debt, which no one knows with certainty where it came from, instead of directing these resources to the basic needs of the citizens.

The people who are marching will take Brasília to remind President Lula that even though he guaranteed that Agrarian Reform would be one of the priorities of his term, he has not yet made concrete and significant steps toward this goal. The people who march want to shake the Congress, not the defenders of the people, but instead the negotiators of the powerful groups of the elite that only maintain and amplify the privileges on which they sit. The marchers want to open the eyes of the Judiciary whose blindness is emblematic, a blindness that does not see the just and legitimate demands of the poor for land, food, work, a place to live, health, and an education. The marchers want Congress to redefine the “rights