Brazil is going through a serious crisis at this moment in history. A crisis of an economic character, because the economic policy puts the highest priority on the remuneration of finance capital in detriment to solving the people’s problems.
A social crisis because the people’s problems are increasing with the lack of jobs, of income, of schools, and of land. A political crisis because the people do not believe in the lawmakers and are demanding a profound political change that ensures greater participation and direct democracy.
We are, in a word, living through a crisis of needing a project for our country.
In the countryside, we are seeing the dispute between two projects for organizing production. On the one hand, agribusiness, putting a high priority on exports, bringing technology to the ranches, laying off workers, and increasing their profits.
On the other hand, family and peasant farming that is responsible for the production of food, nourishment for the internal market, and for the employment of more than 85% of the labor in the rural areas.
Unfortunately in the last three years, the government, represented by the strength of the ministries in the areas of Finance, Agriculture and Industry and Trade, opted for agribusiness.
The current economic policy is an alliance of the multinational corporations and agribusiness and it increasingly penalizes family and peasant farming. Those receive support only in the weakened Ministry of Agrarian Development.
Land reform – a combination of measures to attack the concentration of land – which values and multiplies the benefits of family and peasant farming, is paralyzed. It was transformed into a mere program of settlements, which fall short of the promises of the Second National Plan for Land Reform.
While this is going on, we are watching astonished the advance of the Ruralist Bench (in the Chamber of Deputies) that approved the report of the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry on Land, in which land occupations were classified as hideous crimes and other attacks were launched against the rural social movements.
The increase in resources for PRONAF, the return of public competition for INCRA, and the new agreements for technical assistance are insufficient to meet the needs and to truly bring about changes in the countryside.
The Government did not honor its commitments to rural workers in the various protests, for example the National March, the Cry of the Land, and the Campaign for Family Farming, among others.
An example of this is the failure to publish the Interministerial Decree that updates the indexes of productivity, a point that was high on the list of demands of all the movements and a failure to keep the promise that depends exclusively on the Executive branch.
Consequently, more than 140,000 families remain camped alongside the highways, despite the promises to make the settlement of these families a top priority. In addition, sufficient credit was not made available to the settlements.
As for the Ministry of Agriculture, the measures are taken in a speedier and more courageous form, but always against family farming, as is the object of Decree 51, which selects and concentrates the production of milk, of the decree that regulates the sale of seeds; of the attempts to free up the use of imported agro-toxins until prohibited by ANVISA.
The priority of the Ministry is to defend agribusiness, exports, and genetically-modified seeds controlled by the multinational corporations.
Faced with all of this, the groups that make up the National Forum for Land Reform and Justice in the Rural Areas, directs itself to Brazilian society, its base, and to the Federal Government to say that the balance of the year 2005 is extremely negative for the interests of the landless, for family and peasant farming, and finally for all rural workers.
If the government wants to be on the side of the rural poor, it needs to immediately take the following measures:
a) To settle, as quickly as possible, all the families that are in encampments and are very needy.
b) To publish a decree that updates the indexes of productivity that affect expropriation.
c) To change the economic policy, modifying the interest rate, eliminating the primary surplus and making investments in job creation, income distribution, and strengthening of the internal market a top priority.
d) To treat land reform as a priority, adopting a set of measures that lead in fact to the democratization of the ownership of land and the strengthening of INCRA as an agency that can bring about this reform.
e) To apply the law that demands labelling of all the products that contain GMOs, taking drastic measures to fight contraband of genetically modified (GMO) corn seeds and ensuring the representation of society and of the rural movements in the make-up of the CTNBio.
f) To open up a full national debate, including holding a plebiscite, about the revitalization of the São Francisco River and the diversion project, to fulfill a commitment made to Dom Luiz Cappio.
g) To take urgent measures in defense of the biodiversity of Amazônia and of the sources and reserves of potable water in the country, avoiding privatization and the control of multinational corporations; re-examining the projects for zones of steel production in Amazônia (such as in Marabá, Belo Monte, state of Pará, Açailândia and São Luis, in Maranhão) that meet only the interests of foreign capital, and preventing the propagation of the monoculture of soy in Amazônia. All these projects bring serious damages to the environment and to local populations.
To adopt a policy of defending agro-ecology and a position against the use of the "terminator" seed (seed modified with a gene that makes it sterile).
To vote in favor of the labeling of GMO crops in international trade in the next International Conference on the Cartagena Protocol to be held in Curitiba at the end of March, 2006.
To stop financing, via BNDES (the National Bank of Economic and Social Development), the implementation of cellulose industries and the planting of eucalyptus trees that bring serious damage to the environment.
To free up more resources and increase the teams for the inspection of slave work and of super-exploitation to which workers are submitted, especially the cane-cutters throughout the country.
To pledge that Congress will approve the Project for a Constitutional Amendment, which expropriates ranches that use slave labor.
To take into account the suggestions of the peasant movement and reevaluate all the legal rubbish launched by the Ministry of Agriculture against family and peasant farmers.
To immediately implement FUNDEB (Fund for Basic Education) and increase the number of openings in all the public universities, targeting more public funds for public learning, guaranteeing to the Brazilian population the right to education.
To increase funds for PRONERA (the National Program of Education on Land Reform), giving access to education to all the rural population.
To honor the commitments of the campaign to double the buying power of the minimum salary as a means of distributing income to the poorest, thus creating more jobs and demand for food products.
Brasília-Federal District, December 19, 2005.
Signed by all 45 groups that make up the National Forum for Land Reform and Justice in the Rural Areas
ABRA – Associação Brasileira de Reforma Agrária (Brazilian Association for Land Reform)
ABONG – Associação Brasileira das ONGs (Brazilian Association of Non-governmental Organizations)
APR – Animação Pastoral Rural (Rural Pastoral Animation)
ASPTA – Assessoria e Serviços em Projetos de Tecnologia Alternativa (Assistance and Service in Projects of Alternative Technology)
ANDES – Sindicato Nacional dos Docentes das Instituições de Ensino Superior (National Syndicate for Docents of Higher Education Institutions)
COIABE – Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira (Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon Region)
Cáritas Brasileira (Caritas Brazil)
Centro de Justiça Global (Center for Global Justice)
CESE – Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço (Ecumenical Coordination of Service)
CIMI – Conselho Indigenista Missionário (Indigenous Missionary Council)
CMP – Central dos Movimentos Populares (Center for Popular Movements)
CNASI – Confederação Nacional das Associações dos Servidores do Incra (National Confederation of Associations of INCRA Employees)
CONDSEF – Confederação Nacional dos Servidores Públicos Federais (National Confederation of Federal Public Employees)
CONIC – Conselho Nacional de Igrejas Cristãs do Brasil (National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil)
CONTAG – Confederação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura (Confederation of Agricultural Workers)
CPT – Comissão Pastoral da Terra (Pastoral Commission on Land)
CUT – Central íšnica dos Trabalhadores (Central Workers Union)
DESER – Departamento de Estudos Sindicais Rurais (Department of Rural Syndical Studies)
ESPLAR – Escritório de Planejamento Rural (Office of Rural Planning)
FASE – Federação de í“rgãos de Assistência Social e Educacional (Federation of Organs of Social and Educational Assistance)
FASER – Federação das Associações e Sindicatos dos Trabalhadores da Extensão Rural e do Setor Público Agrícola do Brasil (Federation of Associations and Syndicates of Workers of the Rural Extension and of the Public Farming Sector of Brazil)
FEAB – Federação dos Estudantes de Engenharia Agronômica (Federation of Students of Agronomy)
FETRAF Brasil – Federação dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura Familiar (Federation of Workers in Family Farming)
FIAN-Brasil – Rede de Informação e Ação pelo Direito a se Alimentar (Network of Information and Action for the Right to Eat)
FISENGE – Federação Interestadual de Sindicatos de Engenheiros (Interstate Federation of Syndicates of Engineers)
IBASE – Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Econômicos (Institute of Social and Economic Studies)
IBRADES – Instituto Brasileiro de Desenvolvimento Social (Brazilian Institute for Social Development)
IDACO – Instituto de Desenvolvimento e Ação comunitária (Institute for Development and Community Action)
IECLB – Igreja Evangélica de Confissão Luterana no Brasil (Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil)
IFAS – Instituto de Formação e Assessoria Sindical (Institute of Training and Syndicate Assistance)
INESC – Instituto de Estudos Sócio-Econômicos (Institute for Socio-Economic Studies)
MAB – Movimento dos Atingidos pelas Barragens (Movement of People Affected by Dams)
MLST – Movimento de Libertação dos Sem-Terra (Liberation Movement of the Landless)
MMC – Movimento de Mulheres Camponesas (Movement of Rural Women)
MNDH – Movimento Nacional de Direitos Humanos (National Movement for Human Rights)
MPA – Movimento de Pequenos Agricultores (Movement of Small Farmers)
MST – Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Movement of Landless Rural Workers)
MTL – Movimento Terra, Trabalho e Liberdade (Movement for Land, Work, and Freedom)
Pastorais Sociais da CNBB (Conferência Nacional dos Bispos do Brasil) Social Pastorals of the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops)
PJR – Pastoral da Juventude Rural (Pastoral for Rural Youth)
Rede Brasil sobre Instituições Financeiras Multilaterais (Brazilian Network for Multilateral Financial Institutions)
Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Social Network for Justice and Human Rights)
RENAP – Rede Nacional dos Advogados Populares (National Network of People’s Lawyers)
SINPAF – Sindicato Nacional dos Trabalhadores de Instituição de Pesquisa e Desenvolvimento Agropecuário (National Syndicate of Workers of the Institution of Farm Research and Development )
TERRA DE DIREITOS (Land of Rights)
MST is the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra)