The political crisis that began after the re-election of Dilma Rousseff and the offensive by the opposition and the most conservative sectors of the country has put some warnings on the agenda again.
Given the national and international political conjuncture, one of the main warnings is not to equate political struggle with electoral struggle and not to succumb to the pitfalls of traditional politics.
That said, the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) is issuing its official position on the current political crisis and the current situation of agrarian reform in Brazil.
In addition to denouncing persecution, killings, and the criminalization of social movements in the city and in the countryside and criticizing the austerity that has impacted the working class very severely, the MST is demanding that the federal government make it a priority to settle all the 120,000 families in encampments (some for more than ten years), establish a National Plan of Healthy Food Production, and implement the National Program of Agroecology, approved in 2012 and stalled to this day.
The MST’s Position on the Political Conjuncture
and the Situation of Agrarian Reform
1. The Brazilian people have built democracy in the contradictions of class struggle. We still have a long way to go, but we will not allow any setback in the rights won in our people’s struggle.
2. We have joined in building the Brazilian Popular Front, and all the initiatives of the Brazilian working-class struggles to defend workers’ rights and national causes, such as the mobilization scheduled for October 2 and 3, to advocate for changes in economic policy and the oil dispute for the Brazilian people, in the face of plans to privatize Petrobras and surrender the pre-salt, breaking the rules of production sharing and allocation of royalties for education.
3. We recognize the existence of a global economic crisis, but we do not believe that the workers should pay its cost. We are against austerity measures and think that the Dilma government is implementing neoliberal adjustment measures that harm workers’ rights and slash social investments. We express our total disagreement with the current economic policy. And we demand that the president at least implement the program that got her elected.
4. The program for agrarian reform, which was already weak, suffered an aggressive cut of 64% in the MDA (Ministry of Agrarian Development) and INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform) budgets. Moreover, these agencies are threatened with closure.
5. We repudiate the suspension by the center of government, yielding to pressure from large farmers, of Normative Instruction No. 83, which established rules to speed up processes for expropriation of land, mainly in areas where slave labor is found.
6. We demand that the federal government implement the commitments made by President Dilma, in the meeting with the national leadership of the MST held in December 2014, which agreed on the following:
a) First, settle all the 120,000 families currently in encampments (some for more than ten years). Present a plan with goals;
b) Develop on an emergency basis a development project for settlements, ensuring the necessary infrastructure;
c) Implement the agro-industry program for settlements;
d) Have a National Plan of Healthy Food Production. Implement the National Program of Agroecology, approved in 2012 and stalled to this day;
e) Guarantee the issuing of credits for families, as a fundamental right for the development of food production, especially to women, ensuring their economic autonomy;
f) Disburse and augment the necessary resources for the Food Acquisition Program (PAA) and strengthen the National School Nutrition Policy (PNAE);
g) Ensure that all families in settlements have Technical Assistance. Ensure the management and operation of the National Agency for Technical Assistance and Rural Extension (ANATER) together with the executive agencies for family farming;
h) Guarantee resources for rural housing projects, especially for the 120,000 settlement families who do not own homes;
i) Disburse the necessary resources for rural schools, especially for the projects of the National Program of Education in Agrarian Reform (PRONERA).
7. We denounce persecution, killings and the criminalization of social movements. It is not a crime to struggle! We condemn the massacre orchestrated by agribusiness and conservative forces against indigenous peoples, especially the Guarani-Kaiowá people. We demand the veto of the anti-terror law proposed by the executive branch and approved by Congress.
8. We will always struggle in defense of agrarian reform and to ensure the rights of our social base. We are committed to united mobilization in the Brazilian countryside, with all the organizations and movements impacted by agribusiness and mining.
9. The current conjuncture of the class struggle summons us to political struggle, spelled out in our specific slogans. Structural changes and the pressure to achieve popular and structural reforms, such as agrarian reform, urban reform, political reform, the democratization of the media, university reform, go through an extensive process of social mobilization and strengthening of the alliances of the rural and urban working classes. We are continuing the struggle!
São Paulo, September 11, 2015.
National Leadership of the MST
Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), is a social movement founded in 1984. Em português.