Rural movements discuss Agrarian Reform with Dilma
On Friday July 5, rural organizations and social movements met with President Dilma Rousseff in the Planalto Palace in Brasilia. They demanded more flexibility and less bureaucracy in carrying out policies in the countryside. “It is necessary and urgent for the government to get rid of bureaucracy. Just talking about it is not enough, the policies have to be carried out”, emphasized Alexandre Conceição from the National Coordination of the MST.”
According to the social movements, the government needs to carry out “full and massive” Agrarian Reform in the country. They also criticized the agribusiness model that today concentrates 47% of Brazilian territory for monoculture.
“The Brazilian agribusiness model, which produces mainly for export, does not serve the needs of the people in the countryside. Only Agrarian Reform ensures the produciton of healthy foods and gives quality to the life of the Brazilian people”, stated Conceição.
During the meeting, President Dilma Rousseff gave a brief analysis of the situation and committed to promote flexibility of the government regarding Agrarian Reform, signaling that this has to be developed to create a source of income for the small farmers.
The rights of the people in the countryside were still affected by the recovery of national sovereignty over Brazilian lands, where workers are threatened by privatization of irrigated areas in the semi-arid land and privatization of oil, the auctions of which will affect more than 70 settlements that are within the areas being auctioned off.
The bill about the Mining Code which is going through the National Congress is also a target of concern for the social movements. According to Conceição, “the government needs to hold a full national debate with the Brazilian workers to produce a new Code in agreement with the interests of the Brazilian people.” During the meeting the president was handed a letter emphasizing with urgency the need to halt the modification of the new code.
The organizations and social movements are in favor of a popular referendum by means of participatory democracy since they understand that the changes to improve the life of workers in the countryside and the cities must be done with the participation of the Brazilian people and not in the interests of capital.
Conceição commented that for these changes to occur, the Government needs to overcome its conservative posture of support for agribusiness and take action against this model for agriculture, which uses great quantities of agrotoxins and GMOs, and needs to strengthen the peasantry that produces food for the Brazilian people.
“It’s time for the government to get beyond its conservative posture and get in step with what the people’s struggles are demanding. We are preparing to mobilize on the 11th and we will continue to rally around our agenda, which is only going to happen through struggles, mainly Agrarian Reform, which is not in the center of the discussions and issues of the Dilma government”, Conceição reemphasizes.
The president stated that the referendum on political reform must be discussed by the population and that it will not be carried out with a vote on which the people do not participate, only saying yes or no, and that this will not result in proposals for concrete contributions.
Besides the MST, the following movements also participated: Movement of Small Farmers (Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores, MPA), Movement of Women Farmers (Movimento Mulheres Camponesas, MMC), Movement of People Affected by Dams (Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens, MAB), National Confederation of Agricultural Workers (Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura , Contag), Federation of Workers in Family Farming (Federação dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras na Agricultura Familiar , FETRAF), National Coalition of Agroecology (Articulação Nacional de Agroecologia , ANA), Brazilian Association for Agrarian Reform (Associação Brasileira de Reforma Agrária, ABRA), Coalition in the Brazilian Semi-Arid Region (Articulação no Semiárido Brasileiro , ASA), and the Popular Peasant Movement (Movimento Camponês Popular , MCP).