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Why we have mobilized across all of Brazil

17 April 2007

Press Release Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST)

The agrarian reform must be a public and governmental program that should apply the principles of the constitution to fight the concentration of land property. Through the expropriation and indemnification of the owners it organizes settlements, distribute land to the worker’s families and, by doing so, democratize the access to the land, which is a natural good and must be at the service of the whole population, and not only of a minority.

The state must also guarantee the democratic access, with equal rights to all its citizens, to employment, dwelling, education and health. In the last years, nothing, or very little, has been done to make a real agrarian reform come true.

The governments, in fact, have been giving priority to the agribusiness as a model for agriculture, which is based on the big and “modern” properties that use a lot of poison, generate few jobs and produce to export. It´s a model that receives huge investments in the form of credit by the public banks and the BNDES (National Bank for the Social Development) and that don’t pay almost anything in taxes, thanks to the Kandir law.

This is a benefit that no worker, farmer, sales man or industrial has in the country: a lot of money, little taxes and no social engagement or responsability with the development of the country. A benefit given only to the big national and international enterprises.

And to the poor peasants that decide to organize themselves, the government adopts only social compensations, like the “bolsa família” (basic income program for the poorer people) and the settlement in projects of colonization in Amazon forest, far from everything. Or it allocates families in empty lots in old settlements.

That’s why the concentration of land property has been increasing during the last 12 years. And now with an aggravating, the foreign capital, from the big transnational corporations, is also buying a lot of land! They want to settle huge areas of eucalypt, soy and sugar cane monocultures, to get profits and match only their own interests. They left us only the environmental destruction, the unemployment and the poverty!

For all these reasons, more than 140 thousand families of Brazilian workers are organized and fighting, but are forced to raise their children under black plastic canvas, in camps along the roads, thanks to the omission of the governments. Have you ever imagined how is it possible to stay only waiting, inert, listening to land promises, living in black plastic canvas slums, unable to produce for two, three, five, eight years?

That’s why, tired of waiting, we are mobilizing ourselves in the whole country. We are protesting to accelerate the agrarian reform.

And we are doing this on the period of April 17th because in this day, in 1996, the Military Police of the state of Pará, under the orders of the governor of that state, Almir Gabriel (PSDB) and of the former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso, had made a massacre on a camp in the town of Eldorado dos Carajás, where 19 landless peasants were instantly killed, other two died a few weeks later, 69 were mutilated and hundreds were wounded. After all these years, no one was arrested or punished. Everything remains unpunished. As we all know, here in Brazil the judicial power works only to protect the assets of the rich, and the rights of the poor are always postponed.

In honor of the martyrs of Carajás, Via Campesina Internacional has enacted the day of April 17th the day of international peasant struggle all over the world. And here in Brazil, thanks to the former senator Marina Silva, the national congress approved and the former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso sanctioned a law that establishes the 17th of April as the national day of agrarian reform struggle!

What do we defend and expect the federal government to fulfill with the help of the state governments?

1. We want the government to make the expropriation of unproductive farms quicker, giving priority to some regions in each state, preferably next to the consumer centers, to make the access to the market and the development of food production easier.

2. We want the government to give priority to the expropriation of farms owned by foreign companies that came here to implement their monocultures (of eucalypt, soy and sugar cane) that are dangerous for the environment, with the intensive use of poisonous fertilizers and expelling the Brazilian workers from their rural environment

3. The government must update the edict of regulation that measures the productivity rate of the farms, which is still based on data of 1975. It must also mobilize its parliamentary base, which is the majority of the congress, to make come true the project already approved by the senate that orders the expropriation of farms that still use slave work. There are many properties in this situation and they are a shame to all the Brazilian people.

4. We expect the government to make a real effort, along with all the public organs involved, to settle down in a few months all the 140 thousand families that have been living in provisional camps for a very long time, waiting and living under black plastic canvas.

5. We demand the organization of a new model of settlement, which could mix a new rural credit, special for the settled families, with the food production and the installation of cooperative like agricultural industries. The families, then, would be able to get a higher income from its work and jobs would be created for the youth that lives on the rural environment

6. The Conab (National Supplying Company) must be valorized, its economical resources should be increased and all peasant family, no matter if settled or formed by little farmers, should have the guarantee that all its food production will be bought.

7. A national reforesting program must be adopted in the agrarian reform areas and in the peasant communities, with governmental subsidies, so that each family would be stimulated to plant at least two 20.000 square meters of native and fruitful trees in each area. By doing that we would contribute for the preservation of nature, avoiding the global heating, provoked by the predating monoculture of the agribusiness.

8. The government must develop a big educational program in the rural areas, that should start with a national campaign for the eradication of illiteracy and improve the offer of courses and vacancies in courses specifically for the rural youth. The resources for the Pronera (National Program for Agrarian Reform Education) must be amplified, allowing the young peasants to study in the brazilian universities through agreements and an alternating regime in the superior courses.

9. A new institutional format must be created to make the technical assistance and the pubic rural extension in the settlements viable. To make it possible is necessary that we have a public organ responsible for technical assistance and the training of the farmers.

10. The Incra (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform) must be directly bound to the Presidency of the Republic and form, with the Conab and the organ responsible for the technical assistance, a new institutional format to accelerate and make the agrarian reform possible.

With these measures, we could expect the agrarian reform to actually become more than a project

AGRARIAN REFORM: For social justice and popular sovereignty!

APRIL, 17 2007


17 April 2007
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