The Contag is the biggest peasant organization presently in existence in Brazil. It represents the interests of 15 million rural workers, organized in 25 state federations and 3,630 unions, which form the Rural Workers’ Union Movement (MSTR).
The members of the Contag (Confederação Nacional dos Trabalhadores na Agricultura – National Confederation of Agricultural Workers) are full-time and seasonal male and female rural workers, family farmers, whether owners of their lands or not, landless workers, and workers in extractive activities.
The Contag came into being on December 22, 1963, in Rio de Janeiro. At the time there were 14 federations and 475 rural workers’ unions.
The organization gained official status on January 31, 1964, through Presidential Decree n° 53517.
The military coup in 1964 resulted in the organization’s suffering military intervention and the imprisonment of various union leaders. The MSTR resumed control of the body in 1968.
Since then the Contag has held seven national congresses of male and female rural workers. The last one was held in 1998, when the current governing board was elected.
Each year the Contag sponsors the “Cry of the Brazilian Land,” where rural leaders gather in Brasília to discuss their problems and call on the government to meet their demands.
This event has occurred since 1996, and it coincides with the government’s announcing measures to help the sector.
In 2003 President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was the first President to meet personally with the demonstrators.
Main Fighting Fronts:
Hired Rural Laborers
Social Security and Welfare, Health and Education
Gender and Reproduction
Battle Against Child Labor and Slave-like Labor