The Via Campesina declared April 17 as « International Day of Peasants’ Struggles. » This day commemorates the 1996 slaughter by the Brazilian police of 19 peasants of the Landless Worker Movement (MST) while they mobilized to gain access to some land. The struggle for recognition of peasant rights remains a priority of the Via Campesina, one of Grassroots International’s partners, and they are coordinating hundreds of actions worldwide.
Below is a list of actions organized in Brazil byGrassroots partners, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) and the Popular Peasant Movement (MCP):
Bahia state: Approximately 3,000 landless workers have set up camp in front of the office of the State Secretary of Agriculture, Irrigation and Agrarian Reform. The group wants the government to expedite the settlement process of 25,000 families, and to provide schools, health care programs and loans to small-scale farmers.
Ceará state: 800 members of MST organized a protest in the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INCRA) seeking government action to support the land rights in the state.
Northern Region (Amazon):
Rondônia state: 500 families, members of MST, protested in front of INCRA. Families are seeking land and government services (schools, health care programs, roads, water and electricity) in rural communities.
Pará state: From April 10 to 17, the state branch of MST is organizing demonstrations and cultural presentations to commemorate the massacre in Eldorado dos Carajás. Approximately 1,000 youth are participating in an MST-coordinated camp at the same time.
Goiás state: Members of the Popular Peasant Movement (MCP) are camping in central park in the capital city of Goiana. MCP is organizing demonstrations through the city to defend peasants’ rights to housing, education and health care program.
Brasília (nation’s capital): MST will participate in a seminar in the Brazilian National Congress. The seminar “Eldorado dos Carajás: 15 years of impunity” highights land conflicts and impunity in rural areas. In 1996, 19 peasants were brutally murder by the police in Eldorado dos Carajás, in the Northern state of Para. Via Campesina has produced this video about the Eldorado dos Carajás.
Mato Grosso state: 300 families are encamped along side of major highway intersection to demand titles to their land and improved infrastructure in their community.
Rio de Janeiro state: On April 14,MST receivedthe Tiradents Medal,the highest commendationfrom Rio de Janeiro’ state congress. This award pays homage to the MST for its contribution to ending landlessness in Brazil.
São Paulo state: Last Tuesday, more than 200 families affiliated with the MST distributed 2,000 pounds of food in the busy streets of São Paulo city. The food was produced without the use of agrochemicals. Through this action, MST wants to denounce the increasing use of agrochemicals in Brazil. For two consecutive years, Brazil has been the world’s largest consumer of agrochemicals. Southern region
Rio Grande do Sul state: 500 people occupied the INCRA installations in the capital of Porto Alegre. The group plans to stay until the government agrees to negotiate with landless families.