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International Day of Peasant Resistance: Who Is the Movimento Sem Terra? Report Back
On April 17, International Day of Peasant Resistance, and to mark the 30th anniversary Movimento Sem Terra (or Landless Workers Movement) in Brazil, Bay Area delegates from the 6th MST Congress presented a thorough report back on what they had experienced and learned during their trip. The presentation at La Peña in Berkeley took an honest look at many aspects of the MST and the difficult and sometimes deadly struggle for poverty reduction and agrarian reform in Brazil — from the history, people, programs, and structures of the movement to its internal contradictions and philosophical differences with anti-state activists. (Audio, PDF, and photos from presentation below.)
[Photo: International Peasant’s Movement/La Via Campesina banner]
Thousands of Brazilians attended the 6th Movimento Sem Terra Congress, as well as a couple of hundreds internationals, including delegates from the San Francisco Bay Area. While the primary events were held at a large stadium in Brasília, actions during the Congress included a huge march, a student occupation of the Ministry of Education building, and tear gas attacks by greatly outnumbered police at the Presidential Palace.
Speaking at the La Peña report back were Shango Abiola, Hank Herrera, Eric Leenson, Rebecca Tarlau, Effie Rawlings, Krystof Lopaur, and others.
Speakers noted that it was the MST who inspired the local food sovereignty activists of Occupy the Farm to reclaim at least a portion of the Albany Gill Tract for farming on Earth Day 2012, before the University of California completely paved over or sold off the what remained. For years, the university had spurned all attempts to make use of at least some of the land for community farming and continued with its master plan to commercially develop every last acre.
After over a decade of struggle by a number of different groups fighting for community involvement in one of the last plots of Class 1 agricultural land in the East Bay, the Gill Tract Farm Coalition will be celebrating the first Community Farm Day with a spring planting on Saturday, April 26.
Landless Workers Movement: Bay Area delegation video from the 6th MST Congress in Brazil, February 2014
For English language information on Friends of the MST, see http://www.mstbrazil.org/content/bay-area-chapter
For information on the International Peasant’s Movement/La Via Campesina, see http://viacampesina.org
Para obtener información sobre el Movimento Sem Terra en español, consulte http://www.mst.org.br
Audio includes about four minutes of music during the introductory Mística.
Slideshow accompanies audio above, after conclusion of Mística.
PDF includes links to four specific videos shown during presentation. Much more video from the trip can be seen at https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/04/25/18754784.php.
MST Report Back outline:
I. Mística Shango Transition and Introductions II. Brief Background of the MST and the Congress i. Background of the MST (Becky) 1. APRIL 17th MEANING OCCUPATIONS HAPPENING!! ii. What is the VI MST Congress? (Effie) 1. People's Agrarian Reform -NEW ENEMY (Becky) iii. Role of U.S. Delegation and Via Campesina (Shango) III. Thematic Presentations: a. Encampment, pre-Settlement, Settlement (Effie) i. Diversity of Approaches in the Movement ii. Tenacity in the Movement (5 years!) iii. Corruption and Diehards/Cultural Aspects b. Culture (Shango) i. Mistica, Drumming, Rapping, Dancing with Fruit ii. Class Consciousness c. MST Structure (Sectors, Nucleuses) (Effie with Becky support) i. Old Leadership versus New Leadership d. MST and the State (Becky/Effie) e. Gender and Sexuality in the MST (Shango and Effie)- f. Youth and the MST (Effie)- g. Education and Ministry of Education Action (Becky) h. MST March and Diversity of Tactics (Effie) i. Prisons, Police, March/US Embassy (Shango) i. Marcio Barreto ii. Being Detained (Shango) j. Free Transportation and Urban Movements (Effie) k. Race and Interest in Black Riders (Shango) I. Internationalism (Becky) m. What MST means for US Movements (Effie and Shango) n. MST - US Solidarity and Moving Forward (Becky) Shango and Becky: QUESTIONS: SUGGESTIONS FOR FUTURE: TASKS:
Set-up included a few Black Riders Liberation Party newspapers, too.
Daily Místicas at the Congress are intended to inspire and renew the spirits of participants.
The massacre at Eldorado de Carajas: on April 17, 1996, state military police attacked 1,500 MST marchers with tear gas and live ammunition from rifles and machine guns, killing twenty-one and injuring sixty-nine. This is why April 17 is now known as the International Day of Peasant Resistance.
Newspaper photograph in the slide is of police huddling in fear of the large number of people during a march at the 6th Congress.