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Landless Workers' Movement

From Academic Kids

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The Brazilian Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra MST), commonly known in English as the Landless Workers' Movement, is thought to be the largest social movement in Latin America. It is an organization without any legal registration and is heavily financed by European churches.

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João Pedro Stédile, MST leader. Photo:Antonio Cruz/ABr

It is an ideologically eclectic rural movement of hundreds of thousands of landless peasants (and some who live in small cities) striving to achieve land reform in Brazil. The MST has been inspired since its inception by liberation theology, Marxism, the Cuban Revolution, and a variety of other leftist ideologies. It employs a wide range of tactics that range from direct-action occupation of productive farms and public buildings and destruction of private property to electoral politics through the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Workers' Party). Economist João Pedro Stedile is one of the main leaders of the MST.

The Chico Mendes Center for Agroecology, founded May 15, 2004 in Ponta Grossa, Paraná, Brazil on land formerly used by Monsanto to grow genetically modified crops, intends to produce organic, native seed to distribute through MST.

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Goiania, Brasil - Landless Workers' Movement members marching to Brasília. Photo:Valter Campanato/ABr. May 2, 2005

In May 2005, more than twelve thousand MST activists marched to Brasilia, Brazil's capital, to protest against what they see as the government's slow pace of land reform. Several leaders of the MST met with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on May 18, 2005. The leaders presented him with a list of sixteen demands, including economic reform, greater public spending, and public housing. Afterwards during interviews with Reuters, many of the leaders said that they still regarded President Lula as an ally but demanded that he accelerate his promised land reforms.

Brazil has one of the largest wealth gaps thoughout Latin America and the world. Approximately half of all the country's farmland is owned by 1% of the population.

External links

Reference

  • —, "Agroecology vs. Monsanto in Brazil", Food First News & Views, vol. 27, number 94, fall 2004, 3.

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