Although Grassroots International does not support the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Bahia state, through our support to the MST at the national level and also our partner Rede Social (the Network for Social Justice & Human Rights) we are able to have an impact on thousands of landless families in Brazil. Those families and the nearly 300 in Bahia who, after 20 years, recently won their rights to land and a dignified livelihood, needed political support at the national level, lawyers to oversee their cases and defend them, training to document cases of violence and threats against their struggle, support for the movement as a whole. Resources they would not have had without Grassroots. This is solidarity not charity. Below is a report about the victory as reported by Wesley Lima of the Landless Workers Movement.
After a Two-decade Occupation, MST Families Win Land Rights
After 20 years of struggle and waiting, the families camped out in the municipality of Prado (in extreme south of Brazil’s Bahia state) finally received legal title to their land. The roughly 5,025 acres of farmland has the capacity to settle about 280 families. For members of the Landless Workers Movement (MST, a Grassroots International partner), the Rosa Prado land symbolizes much more than a deed to land. It represents 20 years of struggle and resistance by families who endured many hardships during this period. For Evanildo Costa, the regional director of the MST, this land rights victory represents the struggle for agrarian reform throughout Bahia. “It’s been two year since even a single hectare of land has been reclaimed in Bahia. This victory will energize the struggle of all the Landless Workers in the state.” he believes. In celebration of the moment, the settlers held a march from the vicinity of the settlement to the regional headquarters of the MST, representing the difficult road walked during their years of encampment and the solidarity that accompanied the families. Upon arriving at headquarters, the families were greeted by friends and partners of the MST, activists from other settlements, camps and regions. A celebration ritual made ??reference to the history of Camp Rose Meadow, recalling difficulties, honoring the militants who were part of the process of organizing the camp and the comrades who participated in the construction of the settlement, and remembering those who unfortunately died before the land title was awarded. The encampment at Rose Meadow began with the first occupation of Rose Meadow Farm on August 16, 1993. Since then, the families have suffered 19 eviction injunctions. Even with all the difficulties – such as living in the make-shift shacks and scarce food – the families continued to resist. According to Brazilian congressman Valmir Assumption, « After 20 years of struggle, today we can say that this land belongs to the working class. This achievement shows that we have no other way to win our rights to land but by occupation and resistance. The same way we have a successful organizing model, we need to challenge ourselves to become a model for sustainable agricultural production, education and organizational development, “ said the representative.