Seventeen years have passed since that fateful April 17. On that day in 1996, a march of rural workers organized by the MST was blockaded and attacked by military police in the city of Eldorado dos Carajás, Pará state. 19 people were killed on the spot and 2 others died days afterwards. The day of the Eldorado dos Carajás massacre has officially become the National Day of Struggle for Land Reform.
by Wesley Lima
On April 8, the MST in Bahia started a state march fighting for Agrarian Reform. The march, which had close to five thousand rural workers without land from nine regions of the state, started in the municipality of Camaçari and continued in the direction of Salvador.
The Friends of the MST has translated three recent interviews with MST leaders on the state of agrarian reform in the face of the intrangience of the Brazilian government and the onslaught of international capital and agri-business.
João Pedro Stédile, a founder and coordinator of the MST estimates that the current moment is an ebb of the popular movement.First, an interview with João Pedro Stédile with ABCD Maior. Read the full interview here.
In an interview, Marina dos Santos, a member of the MST's National Coordination, discuss how Agrarian Reform came to a stop in 2012 and there were few investments by the government in production, in family farmers and in the settlements. Agrarian Reform is paralyzed because of the development model in question in Brazil today, agribusiness.¨ This is the analysis of Marina dos Santos, of the National Coordination of the MST. Read the interview here.
According to Gilmar Mauro, a member of the MST national leadership, “We are facing this very big offensive by the court in relation to the settlement areas. The Brazilian state, agribusiness, the state and federal governments are working together to prevent the advance of agrarian reform.” Read the interview here.
Brazilian society faces, in the rural milieu, distinct problems needing different solutions. We have serious problems and emergencies that require urgent action. There are about 150,000 families of landless laborers living under black tarps, camping, fighting for the rights that are in the Constitution to have land to work. For this problem, the government needs to do a real joint effort among the various agencies and settle the families in lands that exist in abundance throughout the country. Remember that Brazil uses for agriculture only 10% of its total area.
The Brazil Rainforest Movement launched an internet petition against the appointment of Senator Katia Abreu (PSD - TO) for the agriculture ministry of President Dilma Rousseff.
"The appointment of Katia Abreu would represent another step toward the interests of landowners and multinational agribusiness. If this action is confirmed it would be construed by us as a sign of definitive break of the federal government with sustainable development," says the petition.
Click here to sign the petition *
The rural social movements that gathered this week at the Unity Meeting of Workers and Peoples of the Countryside, Waters, and Forests in Brasilia released a joint statement representing a demonstration of the political unity of the peasants, small farmers, landless, indigenous and afro-descendants, along with environmentalists, human rights activists and students who also participated.
The meeting is a response to the challenges of our country to overcome inequality in land distribution, which remains unchanged since the '20s, but with economic, social, cultural and environmental risks as a result of the primary specialization of the economy.
The capitalist project underway in Brazil, represented in the countryside by agribusiness, aims to accumulate capital in the primary sector, serving the interests and the rule of foreign capital by means of the transnational corporations.
The offensive of this project causes the crushing and displacement of workers and peoples of the countryside and of the waters and forests. Furthermore, it prevents the implementation of agrarian reform, the recognition and demarcation of indigenous and afro-descendant territories.
A federal court in Brazil has ordered the immediate suspension of work on the huge Belo Monte hydro-electric dam in the Amazon.
The court says local indigenous people have not been properly consulted. Officials point out that the builders of the dam will be able to appeal against the decision. Once completed, the 11,000-megawatt dam, in Brazil's Para state, would be the third largest hydro-electric dam in the world. Belo Monte would only be smaller than the Three Gorges in China, and Itaipu which is jointly run by Brazil and Paraguay. The project, which has been heavily criticised by environmentalists, was approved by the Brazilian Congress in 2005. It is expected to flood a vast area of tropical forest.
Representatives of the State Secretariat for Human Rights, the State Program for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and the Ombudsman of the Department of Social Defense visited, on Tuesday (July 3, 2012), the Gregório Bezerra encampment in the city of Altinho, rural Pernambuco (PE).
The visit had as its main objective to present the results of several investigations open to punish acts of violence.
The camp has been the scene of systematic violence by gunmen hired by landowners of the farm Serro Azul, owned by Luis Reis, since April last year. Since the beginning of this year, the landowner has become even more violent and verbal threats and intimidation came to blows.
On March 22, Reiss beat Eraldo Alves da Silva, known as Seu Antonio, a landless workers in the encampment, while he was kept under the barrel of a gun, accompanied by two gunmen.
By Jose Coutinho Junior
The Minister of Agrarian Development (MDA), Pepe Vargas, in an interview with Carta Maior declared the decrease in the coming years of the number of families settled pursuant to agrarian reform.
The minister also claims that the number of families living in the encampments has decreased. For Alexandre Conceição, from the National Coordination of the MST, the statements mask the reality of the Brazilian countryside.
Check out the interview with the Página do MST:
FINAL DECLARATION OF THE PEOPLES’ SUMMIT AT RIO+20 FOR SOCIAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE IN DEFENSE OF THE COMMONS, AGAINST THE COMMODIFICATION OF LIFE