The president of Brazil’s National Confederation of Agricultural Workers (Contag), Manoel dos Santos, declared that water and land, humanity’s most precious possessions, have become the province of large landowners in Brazil and run the risk of turning into private property.
From his viewpoint, it is important for workers to be prepared to discuss these issues.
Santos is participating in the National Land and Water Conference, which began this week in Brasília.
Around 10 thousand people are participating, including small farmers, landless rural workers, resident descendants of runaway slave communities, representatives of indigenous populations, and people affected by dam projects.
The agenda of the meeting includes Brazilian State policies for the countryside, among which is the development model adopted by President Lula’s Administration, the outlook for the rural sector, water usage, job creation, energy production, biodiversity, and cultural diversity.
The Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, is also participating in the event.
“We are creating a rural development agenda in which agrarian reform plays an essential role,” he declared shortly after his arrival.
The event began with a series of theatrical presentations in defense of the land, water, and the environment.
Immediately thereafter, the participants held a minute of silence to revere the five rural workers murdered last week in the state of Minas Gerais.
This was followed by a round of applause to honor the economist Celso Furtado, who died Saturday, November 20, in Rio.
At the end of the discussions, a document will be drafted to be presented to President Lula.
Gilberto de Oliveira Fontes, coordinator fo the National Forum for Agrarian Reform and Rural Justice, which is formed by around 40 organizations present at the Conference, emphasized that for the rural population to obtain its rights, it is not enough to submit a list of grievances to the Minister of Agrarian Development or President Lula.
“We must establish organic conditions in Brazilian society to press the federal government for the social inclusion of small producers in the less favored regions of Brazil,” he pointed out.
Fortes reflected that the major concern of the National Forum for Agrarian Reform and Rural Justice at this moment “is not the route of agribusiness export production but democratization of the land.”
Translator: David Silberstein