Brazilian Catholic Bishop Don Tomás BalduÀno, president of the Land Pastoral Commission (CPT), expressed his disappointment with president Lula’s Administration, because the president has not managed to advance the agrarian reform process.
Balduíno made his statement at the launching of the document, "The Churches and the Land Question," endorsed by 76 bishops and pastors from four Christian churches.
In a 15-page document, the Catholic and Evangelical religious authorities level criticism at the government’s land reform program and the São Francisco River transbasin diversion project, and call the conclusions reached by the Parliamentary Investigative Commissions (CPIs) "shameful."
"Agrarian reform is paralyzed," Balduíno complains. "Lula’s Administration has let us down when it comes to agrarian reform," he says.
According to the bishops and priests, the figures presented by the government and the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) are fictitious. "For us the numbers presented by the government look like propaganda, not real numbers."
The INCRA press office informed that the institute would not comment on the bishops’s accusations. In Balduíno’s view, the positive aspect of Lula’s Administration is the dialogue with members of the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) and "the fact of not resorting to repression."
"Even though they [the MST] press on with their land invasions, the government has never stopped talking to these workers."
Balduíno compared Lula’s Administration with that of his predecessor, Fernando Henrique Cardoso: "Cardoso dispatched the police, arrested workers, backed the paramilitary forces employed by the landowners, and punished the rural workers. In Lula’s Administration, to the contrary, there is even dialogue."
The document launched Thursday, March 30, presents an evaluation of the agrarian reform process in the country and makes proposals to the three branches of the government (Executive, Legislative, and Judicial). The idea is to use the "authority" of the church to make the country’s leaders more mindful.
"These movements were the ones that opposed the government, and they remain strong. Regardless of the authority of the bishops, that should be enough to convince these leaders. We want to use our authority to sensitize the leaders," the bishop remarked.