Hugh Rodwell: Brazil - some developments and background]
ehrbar at marx.econ.utah.edu
Sun May 12 08:18:12 MDT 1996
The next few postings will be resubmittals of postings (all by Hugh)
that were lost due to the truncation of an issue of the marxism digest
yesterday. For those who are not on the digest this will be
duplication, and I apologize for that. Please notify me immediately
if other digests come through truncated too. (I am not
subscribed to the digest). Hans Ehrbar, ehrbar at econ.utah.edu
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Date: Sat, 11 May 1996 20:29:52 +0200
To: marxism at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
From: m-14970 at mailbox.swipnet.se (Hugh Rodwell)
Subject: Brazil - some developments and background
Cc: amst015 at cantva.canterbury.ac.nz
Sender: owner-marxism at jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU
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>By the way, anyone following the Brazilian Landless Movement?
Here's a report on the recent massacre plus some developments and background=
Landless workers assassinated in Brazil
Once again rural workers have been massacred in Brazil. The military police
of Par=E1 , a north eastern state, cowardly assassinated 21 evicted small
farmers and their families in April on the direct orders of the PDSB (the
ruling party of Brazil) governor, Almir Gabriel.
Among the dead was a three-year-old child. Of the 21 dead, 19 bodies were
completely mutilated, with broken legs and smashed heads. Another 20
critically ill people were hospitalised in Marab=E1. Dozens have disappeared=
among them women and children.
The March of the Landless was on highway PA-50. They had left the
municipality of Curion=F3polis for Marab=E1 where they were to have a meetin=
with the National Institute of Agrarian Reform (INCRA).
According to film-maker Jonias Cardosos (whose film equipment was
confiscated by the military police), the military police came out of a bus
firing. The marchers resisted with sticks and stones and ran into the
forest for protection under intense police fire. Some of the journalists
who were reporting the conflict also became victims of the brutal
The Par=E1 Federation of Agricultural Workers (FETAGRI) has reported that
there was a meeting in the capital between Almir Gabriel and landowners
>from the south of Par=E1, many of whom have been denounced for assassination=
and violence against rural workers, just before this incident.
The landless rural workers' movement is a national movement of small
farmers and landless workers. It includes people who settled on
uncultivated land decades ago and paid the large landowners about 40 per
cent of their crops. Large landowners are brutally forcing these people
off the land to use it for things like the expansion of cattle production.
The investigating police are acting under the same orders as the ones who
carried out the killings and under the orders of INCRA (Institute For
Colonisation and Agrarian Reform) which is dependent on the Ministry Of
Agriculture of Brazil.
On 19 April demonstrations covering the whole country were organised
demanding investigation into the repression, condemning those responsible
and denouncing Cardosa's government.
The crisis generated by this movement and the government's inability and
unwillingness to deal with the problem meant that, after the massacre in
Para, there was no Minister of Agriculture in Brazil, the last one having
locked herself in her house for two days and then resigned!
The Para killing was no isolated event. This year alone there have been
more than 100 rural workers assassinated in Brazil by the police in their
struggles for land. The judicial investigations are started but never
concluded and no one is ever charged. The case of the Corumbiara massacre
is a terrible example of this when Rondonia's Military Police stormed a
colony of 600 families squatting on a ranch on 9 August. Eleven were
killed, including a seven year old girl. Survivors say police tortured
squatters for 12 hours, forcing one to eat the brains of a dead comrade,
Rural Report, Latin American Newsletters. On 16 December, councillor Manoel
Ribeirio, who had protested at the killings and supported the peasants, was
shot dead in his doorway.
The failure to punish the police responsible for the Corumbiara events
confirms that the struggle for agrarian reform has been met by the bullets
of the government in the service of the large landowners. In the most
recent case Diolinda and other peasant leaders of the Pontal de
Paranapanema in San Pablo were imprisoned.
The Landless Movement of Rural Workers (MST) had decided in 1995 to seize
and occupy vacant land throughout Brazil and, in an effort to further
develop their national campaign they have gone into the cities and are
seeking support from the working class. On 31 January Landless activists
took over one of Sao Paulo's city Parks until they were evicted. They had
been given promises for years. Cardoso had promised 280,000 families would
be resettled by 1998. Brazil has one of the most unequal land distributions
in the world and there is a rise of evictions and killings of the poor.
The landless workers are, in one way or another, directly confronting the
plans of imperialism just as were the Zapatistas in Mexico who had to fight
on not only the landlords and national government but the US agri-business
and Nafta (the economic block of the US, Canada and Mexicio) as well.
The MST is seeking deeper solidarity from the urban working class and was
helped by the oil workers union in Santos, Brazil's main port city, to
occupy a farm located in the western area of Sao Paulo. The rural workers
are fighting the landowners and the government who are opening up Brazil
to a frenzy of privatisation by the US, European and Japanese
At the same time as the massacre the Brazilian working class is fighting
the privatisation programme of the government and its labour and social
An indefinite strike on 16 April was called by the federal public sector
workers demanding an end to the cuts in social security and reforms of
their public sector and a 46 per cent pay increase - to keep pace with the
rise of inflation. Eight days later a National Day of struggle and Mourning
was called throughout the country.
On May Day the CUT (the trade union federation) called for a general strike
against the government policies.
There has been a slowdown in privatisations brought about by the resistance
to the plans by the trade unions. But many of the world's multi-nationals
are increasing their investment, for example, General Motors, Volkswagen
and AT&T have all announced increased investment in Brazil. In general and
against the norm in Latin America, "investments are pouring in even though
the privatisation has been stalled." Issue 3 Latin America Review May 1996.
It continues because of the vast internal pickings and because Brazil is
part of MERCOSUR which will give the multi-nationals in Brazil access to
Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and soon Chile - a combined GDP of 1 trillion
These attacks are not only occurring in Brazil. In Latin America we have
seen the assassination of comrade Neco Balbuena in Paraguay, the
imprisonment of comrades Horarcio Panario and Alcides Christiensen in
Argentina, the State violence in Bolivia. The new economic and political
changes have been called a process of "globalisation" but for workers and
the landless globalisation is nothing more than a globalisation of violence
and repression aimed against them.
Condemn the Para assassinations!
The International Workers League (Fourth International) and our party in
Brazil, the PSTU, asks that the labour movement condemns the assassinations
Please send your messages repudiating the massacre and demanding an
immediate investigation into the events and the sentencing of those
responsible including those in government to
=46ernando Henrique Cardoso
Presidente de Brasil
c/o the Brazilian Embassy in your country.
Address in England:
=46ax: 0171 493 5105
32 Green Street,
London W1Y 4AT
Messages of support to the MST, Landless Movement of Rural Workers.
(Direct address later. Can be forwarded via:
International Socialist League
PO Box 9, Eccles SO,
Salford M30 7HL
e-mail: socvoice at gn.apc.org
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