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Joao Pedro Stedile (MST) Says International Financial Institutions Do Not Represent People

February 2007

Joao Pedro Stedile, an MST leader and member of Grassroots International’s Resource Rights Advisory Group participated along with his colleagues at the Nyeleni Food Sovereignty Forum. While there he spoke with Radio Mundo Real about how the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank do not represent the interests of ordinary people and argued that international trade must first and foremost meet the needs of people not corporations. The interview originally appeared on the Nyeleni website.

Joao Pedro Stedile is one of the main leaders of the Brazilian Rural Landless Workers Movement (MST) as well as an icon of the international peasant struggle. Stedile is participating in the World Forum on Food Sovereignty in Selingue, Mali, along with other 600 delegates from 118 countries. He was in charge of reading the contributions of the MST and the other Brazilian movements that are part of Via Campesina, to the forum’s action plan and final document.

“I think that we have to include the definition that food cannot be a commodity as one of our principles. Food must be a right for everybody”, Stedile said at the plenary meeting of the working group on agriculture and international trade negotiations.

Stedile warned that the second strategic definition must be the “struggle against water privatization, because it is a public good and cannot be someone’s private property”.

Peasant movements and other movements that resist water privatization around the world are likely to start coordinating their struggles under a common definition, which Stedile defined as “ideological criticism to capitalism, we must question the fact that everything is a commodity within the capitalist system”.

Regarding international agricultural trade, Stedile said “we are not against the trade of agricultural products, but we believe it cannot be based on profits, but on the peoples’ needs”.

He said the peasant struggles against the WTO’s negotiations must consider that “transnational corporations and imperialistic governments rule the WTO”.

“The WTO, the IMF, the World Bank and all these international bullshit do not represent the peoples’ interests. We have to struggle for a new international order”, the Brazilian peasant leader said.

Finally, Stedile warned about the dramatic advance of biofuels. “Capital wants to take food away from the people and put them in vehicles of the northern bourgeoises. We have to struggle against this, from the roots, the world has to change its transportation’s energy model. We must oppose individual transportation and struggle for collective transportation”.

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