One of the many stakeholders in the “Sertão”, in Brazilians North East, is the movement of the landless rural workers (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, MST, http://www.mst.org.br/). They have a great interest in land, to settle and to produce in agro-ecological systems.
Past week, the MST held its 6th congress in Brasilia and gathered about 15.000 people at a camp right in the centre, near the stadion. The event was at the same time the 30th anniversary of the movement. Members of 24 states took part, arriving in 340 busses. During 5 days (from 09. to 14. February), many plenary sessions were held and performances prepared by the different regions were presented, to celebrate and at the same time to motivate the delegates in their struggle for a decent livelihood.
President Dilma received the leaders of the movement and an official letter with the main demands of MST was given to her.To build peoples agrarian reform is the most important claim of the organisation, which means to re-distribute agricultural land so that more people can benefit from it than in the current system of monocultures and land-concentrations by single farmers. The “Sem Terra” as they are frequently called in Brazil, are involved in many activities that challenge the dominant agrobusiness, with its vast plantations of sugarcane, soy, or cattle-pastures. But they also invest in education, fighting for more schools in rural areas, for equitable access to universities and supporting the members with sholarships, e.g. for the programm “Mais Medicos”.
The 6th congress was a great opportunity to get to know the movement, and to get in contact with international organisations that cooperate with them (e.g. Via campesina, http://viacampesina.org/en/). Facing the upcoming selections in Brazil, it was an interesting dive into the political landscape, and how it is perceived by the peasants and simple people, that only together have the power to make a change.