MST meets Dilma Rousseff:

Landless Movement again raises the question of Agrarian Reform

  • Español
  • English
  • Français
  • Deutsch
  • Português
  • Opinión
-A +A


"These are what we call life, represented in our foods, seeds, poems, handcraft products, and our symbols," said the leader of the MST, Atiliana Brunetto, as she delivered a basket of products of the MST to President Dilma Rousseff, on Thursday, February 22 [2013].
Since the beginning of the Dilma Rousseff government, three years ago, the Landless Workers’ Movement (MST for its Portuguese acronym) has demanded a meeting with the President to call for the implementation of Agrarian Reform and to expose on-going problems in the Brazilian countryside. But it was only after struggle and social pressure on the part of the landless campesinos, on the afternoon of Wednesday (12/02), in Brasilia, that the President finally decided to listen to the demands of the movement, that presented their most urgent problems in this final year of her mandate.
In their evaluation the Landless pointed out that the greater part of their energy spent in the past three years served only to ensure that the present government did not renege on the achievements of the past decade.
"Our whole Agrarian Reform proposal was left in a halfway state. This gave rise to great discontent among the Landless," Jaime Amorim, of the national coordinating body of the MST, said to the President.
During the meeting, the Landless Workers tabled a series of questions relative to the problems of families in temporarily land occupation camps or permanent settlements all over Brazil.
"Give us everything that you have regarding what has gone wrong in order that we can make changes," promised the Present on hearing the demands and pointing out that there is a need to specify and to indicate what is urgent.
Among the points raised, Jaime recalled the discussion on the lack of productivity that began with the onset of the Lula government. "The government should create the conditions and face up to the problem," the leader indicated, affirming that there is a need to face the conservative forces involved in the President's entourage.
At the end of last year, the Provisional Land Reform Measure was launched, that allowed families settled on land to sell off their allotments, which make for a regression of the achievements of the Agrarian Reform and a renewed concentration of land in the country.
According to Debora Nunes, of the national coordinating body of the MST, agribusiness have set their eyes on the land of small settlers and are disposed to offer a lot of money to obtain these areas. "This could stimulate sales, something that would demoralize the Government itself and the Agrarian Reform," she emphasized, pointing out that this would amount to a step backwards with respect to what has already been achieved, and an increase in the concentration of land in the country.
"I agree that there is no room for the prospect of sales," said Rousseff, given that it is important that families feel that the land is theirs, and that this increases their self-esteem.
In this sense, the President agreed to defend the proposal of the Movement, which grants the title for the use of the lands, as well as inheritance rights, but that their sale is prohibited.
Expropriation of new areas
During the Rousseff mandate, a little more than 76 thousand families were settled on lands, according to data from the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra). For the most part, however, these figures refer to the regularization of lands already occupied in Amazonia, and not to decrees of expropriation of new areas.
"This whole year has been one of struggle. There were days of protest in April, August, and October. The government made promises but nothing happened. The technicians of Incra said that Agrarian Reform is not a priority for the President," said Amorim.
On this point, the Landless underlined the need to create an interministerial body to accelerate and to resolve the problems of camp dwellers. "Incra is destructured and without effective capacity for action, and is operated in a markedly conservative manner", Jaime pointed out, adding that an emergency goal is of high priority to resolve the problems of areas that are the site of major conflicts.
Some time ago the functionaries of Incra reported to the federal government that there was a deficit in their operative capacity and a diminishment of their technical corps. Since 2006, some 40 per cent of their personnel left the institution and over two thousand retired, reducing their operative capacity by over fifty per cent.
Irrigated perimeter
In order to resolve part of the problems of occupying families, involving some 150 thousand in the whole country, the Landless outlined the situation with respect to irrigated areas of the perimeter in the North-East of Brazil.
Of these 150 thousand families that hope to obtain a parcel of land, some 60 per cent are concentrated in the North-East. Together with this, there are some 80 thousand idle parcels in irrigated areas, which could accommodate all the families in the region.
Meanwhile the policies developed in these areas give priority to alliances with private enterprise, to the detriment of social problems in the region. "Public-private associations are an affront to regional development. We need a plan of recuperation in order to resolve the land problem in the North-East," underlined Amorim.
The Department of Works against the Drought (DNOCS), the entity responsible for these areas, is in the view of the social movements a redoubt of the local oligarchy, preventing policies of a social character from developing. "We have to break with this organism and hand over responsibility to Incra ", said João Pedro Stedile.
“I shall personally pay attention to the theme of the irrigated perimeters”, President Dilma assured.
(Translated from the Spanish for ALAI by Jordan Bishop)
Suscribirse a America Latina en Movimiento - RSS