The Brazilian Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) announced, Tuesday, March 7, that it will mobilize its approximately 120,000 members who are currently dwelling in temporary encampments for its Days of Struggle, until the end of April.
João Paulo Rodrigues, a member of the movement’s national coordinating board, says that unproductive properties may be taken over in 23 states and the Federal District.
According to Rodrigues, since Saturday, March 4, the MST has staged 23 takeovers in three states – Goiás, Pernambuco, and Rio Grande do Sul.
"In the other states it is possible that they will occur during the rest of March and part of April," he declared in a news conference in which the International Via Campesina ("Peasants’ Way") presented a resumé of what Lula’s Administration has done in terms of agrarian reform.
"We think that even the advances made in Lula’s Administration are still very small," he remarked. "We are convinced that, to proceed with agrarian reform, the MST will have to keep invading land."
Not all the encampments will carry out occupations, Rodrigues said, but all of them will be encouraged to engage in activities that focus the attention of Brazilian society on the issue of agrarian reform and the situation of the encampment dwellers. Normally, the MST also expects to hold public debates, marches, and "to block highways, if necessary."
The Via Campesina estimates that, altogether, the various movements involved in the land struggle in Brazil have more than 200,000 members living in encampments throughout the country. According to Rodrigues, some have been surviving under these conditions for six years. The MST alone claims to have 120,000 people scattered among 650 encampments.
The Via Campesina asserts that the Brazilian government has the capacity to fulfill the goals pledged in its National Agrarian Reform Plan, including the settlement of 400,000 families by the end of its term of office in December of this year.
So far, according to data released by the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA), 235,000 families have been settled.