After Elections, MST Will Keep Up the Struggle
Photo by Julia Dolce, MST
The election results to oust the far-right Bolsonaro administration in Brazil this past October speak to the desire of the Brazilian people for democracy and deeper change. In their commitment to social and ecological transformation, our social movement partners are clear that the organizing must continue regardless of the administration in place. The following is a message by our partner Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra / Landless Workers Movement (MST) on what it sees as next steps in the struggle.
Message from the MST to the Brazilian People
Brazil is experiencing the worst crisis in its history, which is manifested in the economy, in society, in the increase of social inequality, in environmental crimes, in hunger, despair and lack of perspective that affects more than 70 million workers. All this has deepened in the last six years, after the coup against the Dilma government and the four years of a neoliberal government with fascist and authoritarian practices.
Lula’s government will have the fundamental challenge of facing up to people’s basic needs, such as the fight against hunger and unemployment, and heavy investments in education and health. And in the medium term, to debate with all of society a new project for the country, based on re-industrialization and on agriculture that produces healthy food – the only way for us to resume economic growth with social justice.
In agriculture, for decades there have been three models of production. First is the predatory latifundium, which generates private wealth through real estate speculation and the appropriation of natural wealth. Then there is agribusiness, which produces solely agricultural commodities for export, concentrated in only five products (soy, corn, sugarcane, cotton, and cattle). The producers get rich, but do not pay taxes to society thanks to export exemptions, and they harm nature through deforestation, agrotoxins, and monoculture. The third model is family farming, which, using family labor, protects nature and is dedicated to producing food for the families and for the internal market.
Our Federal Constitution requires that land fulfill its social function, producing rationally and respecting labor laws and the environment. In line with our Constitution, we always defend that the latifundium is antisocial and must be banned, and that agribusiness needs to assume its socio-environmental responsibility, adapt to society’s needs, pay taxes, stop using pesticides, and give its workers conditions of dignity.
We defend family farming and the distribution of land from latifundia, especially near the cities, so that food-producing peasant families can multiply.
We advocate zero deforestation. We don’t need to cut down any more trees. What we do need is a National Reforestation Plan, planting millions of trees all over the country, in all biomes, in the countryside and in the cities. This is a necessary condition for combating climate change, which affects the population in all territories across the planet.
We call for the new government to urgently implement various public policy measures, such as the National School Meal Program (Programa de Aquisição de Alimentos e de Alimentação Escolar), seeking food sovereignty and to immediately expand production of healthy food throughout the country. We also call for mechanisms to increase incomes, such as the Bolsa Familia cash transfer program, as well as raising the minimum wage and increasing employment opportunities so that people are able to feed themselves with dignity.
We defend support for agroecology as a technological model that seeks to produce healthy food without harming nature. Agroecology generates jobs and increases crop productivity, thus guaranteeing health for our people.
We call for an urgent program to provide agricultural machinery for family agriculture to support those who farm while boosting productivity.
We call for the implementation of a broad program of agricultural cooperatives in all municipalities, to benefit food production and generate jobs and income for women and young people in the countryside.
We must fight all forces of exploitation in the countryside, such as slave labor and the terrible conditions of wage earners without labor rights. We must fights against mining and the perverse actions of the mining companies that deplete our environment and natural wealth only for the sake of private profit. The goods of nature must be for the needs of all people.
We call for a broad program of education and culture in rural areas that gives opportunities to all people, especially to young people. This program must eradicate illiteracy, offer all forms of schooling in the interior of the country, and preserve and promote the cultural manifestations and expressions of the people.
We will fight against and denounce all forms of violence, discrimination, racism, misogyny, LGBTphobia, and religious intolerance that have been fueled by fascism.
We will take these proposals and ideas to the next Lula administration and we will contribute in every possible way to enforce them
Our main mission is to continue organizing the people to fight for their rights, consecrated in the 1988 Constituent Assembly, because we know that without popular mobilization there will be no real change in the country.
These are our commitments, which we wanted to reaffirm for the entire Brazilian society, in times of crisis and necessary changes.