MST Occupies Land and Government Buildings all over Brazil for the Reopening of Land Reform

April 17, 2017

Photo: Bill Hackwell

Today is the Remembrance Day for the Eldorado dos Carajás Massacre that happened in 1996. The day of action awakened the country with a series of occupations in farms and public agencies involved in land policy. In the state of São Paulo, MST occupied the land illegally taken by the company Cutrale in Agudos, São Paulo state. The movement demands the area is claimed by the government for the settlement of the more than 3000 families currently camped in the state.

Throughout the country there are over 120k families in camps waiting for settlement. “The Land Reform policy had already been suffering adjustments in the previous period and is being definitely suffocated after the coup. It’s a threat to bury all the hope that hundreds of thousands of Brazilian families have for growing healthy food”, assesses Marina Santos, from the National Directorate of MST.

Families of Landless Rural Workers have mobilized in Santa Catarina, Pará, Pernambuco, Piauí, São Paulo, Alagoas, Rio Grande do Sul, Minas Gerais, Goiás, Ceará, Bahia, Mato Grosso, Rio de Janeiro, Paraná e Distrito Federal. On this date in 1996,  twenty one workers were marching on their way to the Pará’s State Capital, Belém, when they were brutally massacred by the Military Police.

Today demonstrations are taking place all over the country to stop the temporary decree 759, drafted by Temer that extensively modifies the land system and the agrarian reform in the country. Families are mobilizing to pressure for the reopening of the Land Reform, particularly the acquisition of land by the government to settle poor peasant families.

“Resuming the survey of land for the purpose of acquisition and settlement is urgent”, affirms Marina. The militant also suggests that the government reclaims public land that has been misappropriated and should be destined to Land Reform and asks for the adjudication of land that is in the process of being claimed for debts.

April 17 has been declared the National Day of Land Reform Struggles by the then president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Globally, Via Campesina takes the day as International Day of Peasants’ Struggle.

At dawn this morning some 300 families occupied the Santo Henrique farm, in Agudos, State of São Paulo, Brazil. The farm is a 2500 hectares public property that has been improperly used by the company Cutrale, the largest exporter of orange juice in the world.

The farm is part of what was the Monção Settlement Cell, a conglomerate of 40,000 hectares owned by the Union that were invaded by large agribusiness companies dealing in sugar cane, orange and eucalyptus. These are companies that commit the crime of illegal land appropriation and are also denounced and sued for disrespecting labor rights and the environmental legislation.

Nationwide, there around 120,000 families currently camping on land that has been expropriated. The current occupation is part of MST’s National Day of Struggles that takes place every April. This year, the Movement aims to raise awareness for the acquisition of properties for Land Reform purposes and the strengthening of public policies for peasants, as well as to the fight against the privatization of settlements that the current government is proposing through temporary decree 759.

Marina Santos explained that “We keep on fighting for Land Reform with the workers in defense of Labor rights and Social Security. We fight for the release of MST’s political prisioner, to fight is not a crime”.

Source: The Dawn