On April 22, demonstrations at Brazilian consulates around the United States, spearheaded by a march from American University in Washington DC, will underscore human rights abuses and environmental destruction in Brazil’s countryside while highlighting the need for true land reform.
Organized by the Friends of the MST, demonstrations will support a mass march in Brazil by Landless Workers Movement, or MST, the largest social movement in the Americas.
In San Francisco, activists will gather at noon at the Brazilian Consulate, 300 Montgomery Street, to hold a vigil and present a letter supporting the MST’s demand for land reform.
Around the country, environmental, human rights, development non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions will take part in the demonstrations held simultaneously in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York, where each consulate will be presented a letter supporting the MST.
The Brazilian MST march, to start May 1st, will involve ten thousand MST members and set out from the city of Goiânia and arrive in Brasília, the capital of Brazil, May 17, a distance of over 200 miles.
The MST are demanding President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva carry out his promise to implement agrarian reform, as guaranteed in the constitution.
More than half of Brazil’s land is held by just four percent of the population while its income distribution is among the most unequal in the world.
The MST have suffered assassinations of hundreds of peasants and rural activists, while Amazon deforestation rates have risen sharply.
The assassination of American nun Sister Dorothy Stang February 12 was ordered by large landholders and highlights the impunity under which they operate in Brazil’s countryside.
Events leading up to the April 22 march at American University in Washington DC will include teach-ins, workshops and the screening of a new film about the MST at the university’s quadrangle, beginning at 10 a.m. and running throughout the day.
Speakers include David Stang and Marguerite Hohm, brother and sister of Dorothy Stang. Students at American University will camp overnight on Thursday, April 21 in black plastic huts depicting an MST land occupation and a traditional black bean stew, called “feijoada,” will be served in the evening.
On Friday, April 22, marchers will step off from the American University quad at 11 a.m. and march down Massachusetts Avenue to the Brazilian Embassy, arriving an hour later.
A letter will be presented to Brazilian Ambassador Roberto Abdenur and a rally will be held in front of the Embassy. The march will be led by several of Sister Dorothy’s family members.
MST – Friends of the MST