Today, March 6th, Grassroots International received an announcement from the Via Campesina Brazil. The women of the Via Campesina Brazil are honoring International Women’s Day by organizing land occupations and protests against large Brazilian and transnational corporations who own and exploit huge tracts of Brazilian land and labor for monocultured cultivation of trees for cellulose for export. The women refer to these huge tracts of land planted only with such trees as the “green deserts” of Brazil – green deserts because they produce no food and very little employment, and are also environmentally damaging. Please read the announcement of our partners below:
Porto Alegre, March 6th 2007
Via Campesina Brazil occupies large green desert land holdings in Rio Grande do Sul
Approximately 1,300 women from Via Campesina, who are mostly organized by the Landless Movement – MST, held four land occupations in Rio Grande do Sul this morning.
Those actions are part of a series of National Struggles of Via Campesina Women held during the whole week of March 8th. The slogan of these mobilizations is “Peasant Women Struggling for Food Sovereignty against Agribusiness”.
In Rio Grande do Sul, women occupied various areas belonging to the corporations that were used for tree monoculture, to denounce the green desert that is limiting agrarian reform and making peasant agriculture unfeasible.
The occupations were held in Santana do Livramento, an area controlled by Aracruz; Candiota, controlled by Votorantim, São Francisco de Assis (in the border with Manoel Viana) controlled by Stora Enzo and in Eldorado do Sul, Porto Alegre metropolitan area, controlled by Boise.
Together these four companies own more than 200 thousand hectares of land in Rio Grande do Sul, an area which would allow the settlement of 8 thousand families generating work, income and dignity in the countryside.
The Brazilian movements, which are part of the Via Campesina denounce the fact that the green desert is taking over “gaucho” land, assuring profits only for the companies involved. For society the consequences are the increase in drought, environmental losses, unemployment and poverty in the countryside.
Studies prove that wherever green deserts have advanced, peasant agriculture has been destroyed, and women are the first ones to bear the burden since they work mainly in food production and breeding of small animals for family consumption or to supply local markets.
Strengthening agribusiness will increase the social exclusion of women.
Via Campesina women call for agrarian reform, peasant agriculture and Food Sovereignty as an alternative to agribusiness.