By Fernanda Alcântara
From the MST web site
Emotion, resistance and perseverance of the dream of agrarian reform were fuel for the MST’s April of struggles. With actions planned for the whole country, the MST is already marking the month of April with the return of some face-to-face events after a long period of the Covid-19 pandemic, carrying out land occupations, encampments, marches, solidarity activities, food distributions, planting trees, public rallies with interventions in front of public agencies, demanding the resumption of agrarian reform in the country and denouncing the agribusiness model.
Organized to continue the struggle for land, housing, and bread, the landless marched from Feira de Santana to Salvador, Bahia. They participated in pedagogical camps organized by the Landless Youth and also denounced the 26 years of the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás in Pará, where 21 landless workers were brutally murdered.
April is marked by a series of activities in the State of Pará recalling April 17, 1996, in Eldorado do Carajás, when two troops from Pará Military Police discharged revolvers, machine guns and rifles against 1,500 families of landless rural workers who were marching to Belém with the goal of claiming the expropriation of land for agrarian reform. The result of the operation is the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás: with 19 landless savagely murdered in place and 2 who died soon after from injuries.
From the north to the south of the country, the national campaign of struggles in defense of agrarian reform continues to the end of April, with symbolic actions of commemoration and denunciation for the martyrs of Eldorado do Carajás in more than 50 locations in the country, involving several Brazilian states. International activities also included the participation of MST members and friends.
Check out some activities held during this April of struggles:
Bahia State March
This year the MST in the state of Bahia promoted a historical march of 110 km, engaging in discussions with the population of cities about the need and importance of agrarian reform and denouncing increased violence in the countryside. During April 11-19, the march included 3,500 landless workers from the whole state.
With the motto “people’s agrarian reform: for land, housing and bread”, the landless traveled through towns in Bahia, from Feira de Santana to the Salvador capital, denouncing the murder of activists Fábio Santos and Marcio Matos and announcing the necessity and importance of people’s agrarian reform.
About three thousand rural workers arrived today (April 18) in the morning in Salvador and occupied the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) in the Bahian capital, denouncing the paralysis of agrarian reform, the persecutions that INCRA has been carrying out with social movements and the lack of public policies for family and peasant production in encampments and settlements in the state.
Occupy and resist
Occupying the land to give a place for people’s agrarian reform is an important tool for struggle throughout the history of the MST. In addition to the march, the landless in Bahia also organized about 105 landless families who occupied the Mata Verde farm in Guaratinga, at the southern end of the state. The unproductive farm does not fulfill the social function of land and its occupation aims to settle families and push the federal government to resume the expropriation of land for the purposes of agrarian reform as specified by the federal constitution.
In Ceará, about 80 landless families occupied the Fazenda Lagoa dos Veados, located in the municipality of Ipueiras. The area has not been fulfilling the social function of land and currently is abandoned, while landless families do not have land to work. The MST demands that the Government of the State of Ceará purchase the land, as in accordance with Law 17.533 of June 22, 2021, called the Wilson Brandão law, the State can acquire areas to settle families.
On April 16, about 170 landless workers reoccupied an unproductive estate in Rio Grande do Norte. The farm, which had already been occupied in 2016, is located in the municipality of Barra de Maxaranguape, on the north coast of the state. The area has approximately 1,500 hectares, is in a zone of strong real estate speculation and does not meet the social function of land.
Also in Rio Grande do Norte, on the International Day of Peasant Struggles (April 17), about 200 landless families occupied an unproductive land with approximately 950 hectares, the Paraíso dos Carajas’s occupation, as it was baptized by the families, is in the municipality of Rio do Fogo, on the north coast of the state.
Families of the Quintino Lira Encampment in Santa Luzia, in Pará, also held a symbolic occupation at the Cambará farm. The machinery that was used to destroy the reserve area and the fields of landless families. The action aims to guarantee the agreement that was signed and ignored by the rancher in the region, Joshua Bengston, pastor of the Quadrangular Church and Federal Deputy of the Brazilian Labor Party (PTB).
At dawn this Monday (April 18) In Paraíba about 50 families from the MST carried out the occupation at Maravilha, in the municipality of Caúpraora. According to the landless, the plant is bankrupt, and should be within the agrarian reform program, but the owners did not accept the negotiation proposal offered by the State and the Federal Government. The area of the company, which is in debt to the state of Pernambuco, has already been occupied in 2016 by the landless, since it has great potential for the cultivation of food and is abandoned.
In memory of the martyrs of Eldorado do Carajás
The landless youth of the Amazon region can finally meet face-to-face in the S Curve, in Eldorado do Carajás, in Pará, for the 16th Oziel Alves Pedagogical Camp of Landless Youth. Featured from April 13 to 17, the meeting brought hope of Amazonian resistance to fascism and determination to continue the struggle. It was attended by more than 150 young people from the states of Pará, Maranhão, and Tocantins from encampments and agrarian reform settlements.
On the International Day of Peasant Struggle, the landless from encampments and settlements of the region gathered with Landless Youth at the mística in memory of the 26 years since the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás. In the closing action in the S Curve, where the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás occurred, they recalled the memory of the workers who were brutally murdered in the countryside by the violence of agribusiness.
In Roraima, the landless planted 21 trees in honor of the 21 dead workers in the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás. The action is also part of the National Plan for Planting Trees and Producing Healthy Foods in the Community of Dreams settlement in Mucajaí.
In the capital São Luís, in Maranhão, the MST put forward its demands to INCRA, the Institute of Lands of Maranhão (ITERMA) and the Secretariat of Human Rights and Popular Participation (Sedihpop). The land regularization and the accusation about intense agrarian conflicts that are happening throughout the state due to the rampant advance of agribusiness in the Matopiba region has been causing the contamination of the rivers and the constant invasions of traditional territories by the large estates, were recurrent points in all three meetings.
In Rio de Janeiro (RJ), about 150 activists of the MST occupied the surroundings of the INCRA building in the center of Rio de Janeiro. The four regional marches organized by the MST in the state came together at the Church of Candelaria and marched in ranks to the INCRA building, the Institute responsible for agrarian reform policy.
Landless activists gathered in the Gercina Mendes occupation, in Mirante do Paranapanema (SP), for a symbolic action as part of the campaign of struggle. In addition to remembering the history of the Red April struggles and the symbolism of this year’s national campaign, the action was important for the discussion about the public lands of the Pontal of Paranapanema and the struggle for agrarian reform. The closing ceremony also included a tree planting in the encampment for recovery of a spring.
In the Mário Lago settlement, in Ribeirão Preto (SP), 21 seedlings were also planted in memory of the martyrs of the Eldorado dos Carajás Massacre. The Neusa Paviate forest received 21 new seedlings, including Yellow Ipê and many seeds of Guandu pumpkin, sunflower, papaya, baru, date, citrus, chili, coriander, etc. There was also a symbolic action for Eldorado do Carajás in the Regional of Andradina, in the municipality of Pereira Barreto (SP).
The weekend was also marked by a political rally carried out in solidarity at Marielle Vive! Encampment in defense of agrarian reform. Located in Valinhos, in the Metropolitan Region of Campinas-SP, the MST in São Paulo celebrated the four years of resistance from the encampment and celebrated the active resistance of the occupation after living moments of terror during two consecutive shooting attacks that occurred against the encampment on Sunday April 10.
Mobilization and solidarity marked April in Paraná. On Saturday morning April 16, families from encampments in northern Paraná held marches and food distributions in the municipalities of Herdeiros da Luta de Porecatu, Forestópolis and Centennial do Sul. The actions involved the communities of the Luta de Porecatu, Zilda Arns, Manoel Jacinto Correia and Fidel Castro. Before the distributions, families from encampments marched towards the parishes of the municipalities where foods were distributed. In total, 110 baskets of agrarian reform food were distributed including breads, cakes, milk and milk drinks in each basket that was distributed.
More than 2,500 workers from the city, peasants and indigenous people marched through the streets of Curitiba (PR) last week. Ten tons of agrarian reform food were distributed in the New Esperança Community, in Campo Slim (PR), Community of the Metropolitan Region of Curitiba which welcomed more than 500 activists of the MST in the two days of the campaign. Foods were donated to the families of Nova Esperança and also to indigenous communities in the region.
The MST in the Southern Region also met to discuss the National Plan “Planting Trees Producing Healthy Foods” in an activity that brought together about 30 members of the MST of the states of PR, RS and SC at the Vinte e cinco de Mayo School. The action, held in the Vitoria da Conquista settlement, in Fraiburgo / SC Fraiburgo, included a conversation circle throughout the day, with formations and studies related to the environmental crisis. There was also the sharing of experiences of each state and planning of actions in the region.
Two emblematic interventions were conducted by the MST in Brasilia and surroundings. On the morning of April 6th, MST activists protested in front of the building of the National Education Development Fund (FNDE) in Brasilia, DF. The demonstration denounced the cases of corruption that have surfaced in recent weeks related to the Ministry of Education (MEC) and the FNDE.
On April 8, the protest was held in front of the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Supply (MAPA). The demonstration denounced the attempt to approve the poison package, which is being reviewed in the Federal Senate. The demonstrators used tombstones, soybeans and bones to represent a graveyard, in analogy to the deaths and diseases caused by the use and consumption of foodstuffs with agrochemicals.
In the state of Goiás, the landless also planted more than 1,000 seedlings of trees and more than 2,000 baskets of agrarian reform foods were distributed in the state, as well as several actions that integrated the April campaign of struggle with popular movements and partner organizations in the state.
On April 16, the Culture Collective of the MST in Rio Grande do Norte held an intervention during the show of Francisco El Hombre band in Natal-RN. The partnership with the band, on the eve of the day of struggle for agrarian reform, reiterated the importance of art and culture as fundamental dimensions for the organization of the movement.
During the state march, the MST in Bahia also carried out several actions, including in the municipality of Amélia Rodrigues. On arrival in the city, an activity of planting seedlings at the Quilombo Remanescente da Pinguela happened with a mística and included the participation of the whole community, who planted trees in honor of the memory of the leadership of the Quilombo, Mrs. Rita.
On April 18 in Aracaju, the MST in Sergipe held rally in front of the INCRA office in honor of the dead of the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás. The protesters surrounded the office from 8 am.
In Marianao, Havana – Cuba, trees were planted in honor of the dead of the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás. In Bayamo, another Cuban city, capital of the Province of Granma, trees were planted in memory of 21 landless workers in the Massacre of Eldorado do Carajás. With a mística of international solidarity, flags, poems, songs and chants were part of the honors.
With the mística of internationalist solidarity, flags, poems, songs and chants, the Samora Machel Brigade along with the Socialist Party of Zambia held a symbolic planting of trees in memory of the 26 years of the Carajás Eldorado Massacre (PA).
Other actions of the landless struggle are still expected in several states throughout the month of April. In honor of all those who have fallen in the legitimate struggle for land in these more than 500 years of concentration and plundering, the MST remains in the struggle for people’s agrarian reform as a necessary and urgent political project to combat hunger and development of the countryside in Brazil. Only the distributed land, shared in the hands of workers, will help end hunger.
* Edited by Solange Engelmann