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Speaking Tour of Brazilian Land Rights Activist in Massachusetts

November 2007

Grassroots International and U.S. Friends of the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (FMST) are delighted to host Luis Antonio Pasquetti, from the National Committee of the Landless Workers Movement (MST), a member of Via Campesina, during his tour in the United States.

The Landless Workers Movement has been working for more than twenty years to redress extreme inequality in Brazil, where fewer than two percent of landowners control nearly half of all arable land. The MST’s strategy involves using a constitutional clause that idle land be used for the social good. Turning this right into reality, the MST has grown to become the largest social movement in Latin America, with more than 1.5 million landless members settled in thriving communities in 23 out 27 Brazilian states.

Luis Antonio or Tonico, as he is known, will be speaking at events organized by scholars and local activists at Brandeis University in Waltham, Northeastern University in Boston, Clark University in Worcester and a home in Jamaica Plain. These events are all open to the public and we encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity to discuss pressing global issues with Tonico. He will also participate in meetings with local activists in the Boston area.

Grassroots International and other U.S. based organizations are concerned about the negative impacts of agrofuels, and the industrial production of sugar cane and soybeans for ethanol and bio-diesel production. The MST and others point out that term “bio-fuels” is being misused, as bio, in Latin, means life. According to Dawn Plummer, a member of the New York chapter of the FMST, “the rising demand for agrofuels in the U.S. will result in the destruction of rainforest areas of Brazil, Indonesia and West Africa.”

As the costs of extraction and protection of oil reserves overseas are mounting, U.S. legislators are considering an increase in the renewable fuels target that includes the expansion of ethanol production to 36 billion gallons by 2022.

“Luis Antonio’s visit comes at an important time, as we in the U.S. are debating the expansion of agrofuels production and its impacts on the survival of indigenous peoples and campesino communities in the Global South”, stated Nikhil Aziz, Executive Director of Grassroots International.

Grassroots and the FMST believe that the best alternatives to global warming are small-scale, environmentally-friendly agriculture here and in the Global South and sound measures to curb energy consumption and waste. Organizations like the Via Campesina have shown how small-scale agriculture is not only sustainable but actually helps against global warming.

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