We Got a Government We Did Not Elect, Says Brazil’s Landless Movement

The following excerpt is from a recent letter written by the National Secretary of the MST (Landless Workers’ Movement) about the current political crisis:

1. Political Position of the Landless Movement


Corruption, an endemic element of the privileged classes, takes possession of public resources in a state that is hardly democratic. In our current evaluation of the present crisis, illegal corruption exists and it generally benefits personal interests, using immoral and illegitimate practices that involve the appropriation of public resources by an economic group representing the dominant, elite class.


Interest rates in Brazil and the transference of public resources to the banks (more than 100 million reais – US$ 42 million – a year) are a prime example of this. Another important issue relates to the media. Do the media and the elites protect the corrupt and impede us from identifying those who are truly guilty?


Who are the owners of the millions of dollars and resources diverted to electoral campaigns? Whose/what interests are benefiting from the millionaire investments made in political campaigns?


2. The Lula government


The Brazilian people elected President Lula and his government to make changes. They voted for the platform of changes that the Workers’ Party proposed in its campaign. In a Letter to the Brazilian People, the elected government committed itself to bring about these changes.


However, the government has destroyed the trust of 53 million people who voted for Lula. There has been a perverse composition of political forces, including the right and conservative sector, that assumed important positions in the Central Bank, the Ministers of Treasury, Agriculture, Development, Industry, and Commerce.


Last July, in the middle of a profound political crisis, the government promoted a ministry reform that reinforced even more the alliance with the conservative sectors. Because of this, we say that the government is disfigured and altered.


We are not dealing with the same government that we elected in 2002. We do not have a leftist government, not even a left-center government. We are living with a government of the center, since the right control the economic policies.


We’ve said goodbye to the government of the PT and its historic commitments. We have suffered the consequences of an ambiguous government, composed of political forces of the society that go from the right to the left and have very little to offer to the people.


The government lost an opportunity in the midst of its mandate to consult the people about strategic societal issues, such as the external debt, interest rates, transgenic products, the autonomy of the Central Bank, the transposition of the São Francisco River, etc.


Clearly, the people want changes and would have given support to the government, who preferred to listen only to traditional politicians.


3. The Government and Agrarian Reform


We believed that the election of President Lula and his government represented a change in the correlation of forces and favored agrarian reform.


The National Plan of Agrarian Reform was elaborated. It called for the settlement of 400,000 families in the period of four years, changes in the administration of INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform) , legal qualification of the settlers, and the marriage of agrarian reform with agro-industry.


Two and a half years of the Lula government have passed and agrarian reform is moving at a turtle’s pace. The government was incapable of implementing its own plan. There has been no courage to confront the issue of agrarian reform because the state is administratively organized to meet the needs of the rich and not the poor.


The government believes in the false idea that agribusiness will be the solution to poverty in the rural areas. We see that agribusiness benefits only the exporters and agricultural transnationals. The government did not clearly see that the maintenance of a neo-liberal economic model impedes the accomplishment of any agrarian reform program.


Because of our discontent, we organized a National March this year that united 12,000 people from various parts of Brazil for a 17-day protest. At that time, we succeeded in getting the government to renew its commitment to accelerate agrarian reform. Little has happened.


The commitment to settle 115,000 families this year has resulted so far in the settlement of only 20,000. Another 120,000 families continue encamped in subhuman conditions. Simple administrative acts promised by the government have not been fulfilled.


We are tired of hearing government officials speak of a lack of resources, while the banks swim in billions of reais transferred to them by the state. The Lula government has an immense debt to the landless people and Brazilian society regarding the issue of agrarian reform.


In light of this political and social crisis, we call on popular and social movements to join together and participate in mobilizations in the month of August that will culminate on September 7 in the annual march of the Cry of the Excluded. Let’s work together for a new Brazil!


Landless Workers Movement – www.mstbrazil.org

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