Change in Brazil Won’t Come from Palaces, But from Mobilized People

In order to win a lot of victories in the coming year, the MST is planning struggles and mobilizations. They are forms of organized social pressure where we want to have fewer fast food restaurants on every corner and more libraries and bookstores.

We also want access to land to produce healthy and cheap food, jobs and a decent income for all families, quality free education, access to information, the preservation of popular culture and strengthening of health.

For this to happen, it will be necessary to discuss in all possible spaces the building of an anti-neoliberal, anti-imperialist, popular, and national project. The new model can only be made viable starting with grass-roots discussions that will gather energy, forces, and consensus around the ideas.

No doubt it will be necessary for the mass movement to be strengthened in order to alter the current correlation of adverse forces. The struggle of the MST and the life of those who participate in it are dedicated to seeing this dream become reality in Brazil.

The year that passed was hard for rural and urban workers and for Land Reform. Fortunately, throughout 2005 the MST received much support and solidarity from society for the struggle of 160,000 families who are in encampments, under black plastic tarps alongside the highways or next to unproductive latifúndios and for the 350,000 families in settlements.

The MST considers it important to let people know about its evaluation of the past year and the challenges for the coming year.

Together with other social movements, we have consistently shown concern about the seriousness of the Brazilian. The picture is dramatic. The crisis is not limited to a problem of political parties.

It touches intensely on ideological questions, reflected in the absence of projects, and plunges Brazil into the social abyss. Unfortunately there is no strategic, long-term thinking focused on resolving the true structural problems of the country, which postpones these questions to the future.

The results of the economic policy that was adopted, along with barbaric interest rates, show up in unemployment. Happiness is the requisite of a select club that brings together bankers and international speculators.

According to Professor Eduardo Fagnani of the University of Campinas, the payment of three days of interest on the external and internal debt consumes a one-year budget for Land Reform. The costs of 20 days of interest equal what was invested over 10 years in popular housing and basic sanitation.

The MST has made an effort to build unity around the social movements in the countryside and in the city to collectively forge a popular alternative for Brazil.

The results were felt over this period:

1) the Coordination of Social Movements carried out various protests and activities about changing the economic model in the states, demonstrating the capacity of the movements to think beyond the specific guidelines of demands;

2) the National Forum for Land Reform was consolidated as a space for meeting, reflection, and coming together of all the movements and groups that continue struggling around the commitments that we took on in the Letter from the Land of 2004;

3) the National Popular Assembly, together with the Fourth Brazilian Social Week/CNBB (National Conference of Brazilian Bishops), united thousands of Brazilian men and women in the struggle for concrete proposals for changes in the country.

For our movement, 2005 was also a year of learning. The challenge of placing 12,000 marchers in movement for 17 days – in an organized and serious form – made the National March for Land Reform an unforgettable fact.

The sacrifice of the march was brightened, on the one hand by the support of friends of the MST and on the other hand, by the moments for study and political education along the 200 kilometers that separate Goiânia from Brasí­lia.

But if the March taught us about organization and solidarity, the government once more disappointed us: it did not fulfill the seven commitments it made when the march arrived in Brasí­lia.

The MST resents the fact that Land Reform is not seen as a mechanism for democratizing the land (in our country only 1% of the landowners hold 46% of the land) and for creating and distributing wealth and income.

It is seen as a mere policy for social compensation in an economy that prioritizes the export of grain for the rich countries while the people do not have easy access to the products in the basic food basket.

The simple approval of a decree that brings up to date the productivity indexes according to the measurements calculated by the IBGE would have been sufficient to advance the cause of Land Reform.

However, this decision, which did not involve expenditures and is exclusively up to the Executive Power, was not made. The political will was lacking. Land Reform continues slowly, despite the government boasting about nonexistent numbers.

Rio Grande do Sul had only 100 families settled in three years. In Maranhão, a state that shows the greatest concentration of land, not a single family was settled. Inertia serves as a stimulus for the latifúndio.

The Joint Congressional Inquiry on Land (CPMI da Terra) lost an historical opportunity to unmask the land structure in our country and propose coherent measures. It preferred to subordinate itself to the Democratic Ruralist Union and reverse the roles.

For the congressional members of the CPMI, to concentrate lands in a country with social problems is not heinous. That term is used to describe the struggle against hunger and inequality. The commission wanted to transform the victims into promoters of the violence.

It simply ignored the 38 dead in rural conflicts throughout the year, 16 of them in Pará. Symbolically, on the day to vote on the report, a landless worker was killed by gunmen in Alagoas. The attempt to criminalize the social movements came to life while workers were living under a regime of slavery on the large ranches.

The MST does not believe in miracles. Without putting hope aside, it knows that this is a time for struggle. The change will not come from offices and palaces, but from a people who are organized and mobilized.

The Movement is certain that the new project for the country will be a fruit of popular participation in the democratization of the land, of the riches and of the means of communication. We seek forces for this duty in the lessons of Apolônio de Carvalho, who left us last year.

A few weeks before dying, Apolônio told us, with his tireless motivation, "It’s not worth just looking at reality and protesting against it. We want a world that is not only better but a world that is younger, more full of creativity, of abnegation, peace, justice, broad and pure human relations.

"The ideal of a new society, in which injustices and cruelties are gradually corrected, projecting the ideal in a horizon of more equality, fraternity, and solidarity."

The MST believes in the construction of this new reality.

A warm embrace,

National Secretariat of the MST


  • Show Comments (3)

  • Guest

    The Eastern European countries said 15 years ago, enougn is enough. Some did their revolution and some insisted that things must changes. Just look their economic growth rate in 15 years and social progress compared to before. Their GDP per capita is now much higher than Brazil while before it was much lower. Again, in just 15 years.

    In Brazil the economic growth is still very small, despite what Lula is saying.
    9,5 % in 2003, 5 % in 2004, 2.4 % in 2005.
    In these same 3 years ALL developing countries in the world grew far more than that.
    But just listen to Lula speeches self congratulating himself of his tremendous achievements.
    What achievements when Brazil is the last in the classroom of developing countries ?

    With your point of view, it would be obvious that nothing will change. Poors do nothing or not much action, and the wealthy citizens and the politicians (wealthy too) do nothing either. Why shall they do ?

    And not much will be accomplished in the next several decades just as nothing was accomplished for the last 50 years or even 1 or 2 centuries.

    Look at the street demonstrations you had last year, for the corruption crisis.
    Only 10’000 people showed up, and only in Brasilia.
    Well, in a country with a population of 185 millions, that is not much, whatever way you look at it.
    In other countries, citizens would have shown up by the millions, in many cities.

    And as to the your comments on brazilian poors and reading, you are really an asshole.
    Because I doubt you learned by yourself how to read and write. Someone teached you. and this is what Brazil doesnt do with their citizens.

    It is an obligation for every government to provide not only basic education but the possibility to continue to higher education and even universities to ALL their citizens.
    And it is up to the students to choose if they want to continue their education.

    In view of your stupid comments, no doubt you are against education to ALL, but were not against your own education.

    It is not with your thinkings and ideology that your country will mature and develop. !

    No doubt that you are one of the minority wealthy citizens against education for all.
    And corrupted to the roots, you are too.


  • Guest

    Question for the above commentator….
    That may be so or not…. But do you really believe a movement of the masses, by which is meant the poor, uneducated, and unthinking (in the sense that they have no proper conception of economics outside of their own very limited pockets) will be good for Brazil? I fear they will be more manipulated than ever – and potentially dangerous, if you think about it. And, although I personally abhor the pausity of libraries and bookstores in Brazil, what on earth do the poor masses need or want them for if they cannot read! Please get real.

  • Guest

    But all decisions….
    …are taken by the Palaces, full of corrupted politicians and government leaders.

    They vote for big increase in social budgets to appease citizens and show how much they care and then silently they dont spend what was promised.

    Nothing new.

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