MST’s Commitment to the Struggle and to the Brazilian People

The Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST – Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) launched on Saturday, January 27, its “Letter of Commitment to the Struggle and to the Brazilian People.” The letter was presented during the Political Act in Commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the organization which took place following the the meeting of the National Coordination of the Movement.

“We reaffirm the commitment we made forty years [founded January 1984] ago: we will fight until the evils of the latifundio (large land holdings) are extinguished from our society and with them all oppression, misery, environmental destruction and hunger,” highlighted part of the letter.

The letter also points out the movement’s ongoing work of the defense of natural resources and the organization for the upcoming 7th National Congress of the MST, which will be held in July of this year.

The letter is published below, in its entirety.

MST Open Letter of Commitment to the Struggle and to the Brazilian People

Forty years after men and women, rural workers, had the courage to challenge the large land holders (Latifundio) and create the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement, we, members of the MST National Coordination, meet at our Florestan Fernandes National School, in Guararema, São Paulo.

We gather to celebrate our indigenous, African and peasant ancestry, the many historical struggles of the Brazilian people and to celebrate the longevity of our organization.

We gather to celebrate the conquest of the land. We are 450 thousand settled families and more than 65 thousand families in encampments yet to be regularized. In territories freed from the fences of ignorance and poverty, we organize hundreds of cooperatives, agro-industries and rural schools. We celebrate the dignity of those who now produce food and protect our common home; our mother Earth.

It is this dignity and pride that inspire the struggle for Popular Agrarian Reform to confront the violence of the rural militias and the slowness of the State, while maintaining our firm commitment to comply with the Brazilian Constitution: the land must be democratized to fulfill its social function of producing a dignified life for the peasant population, healthy food and preserving nature.

[Photo: Priscila Ramos]
We celebrate the organization of the workers who faced, with courage and determination, the coup of 2016, the rollbacks of hard-won rights and the contempt for humanity of the Bolsonaro government in the Covid-19 pandemic. With active resistance in the camps and settlements, building the Popular Agrarian Reform, we prioritize life and strengthen solidarity actions and mobilizations throughout the country.

This level of organization was decisive in electing President Lula and his election victory was an important achievement in the international struggle against the far-right offensive. We built and participated in this achievement. And we support all the government’s initiatives to face hunger, misery, unemployment and to reindustrialize the country on new sustainable bases. President Lula faces many challenges and obstacles and knows that only mobilization and popular participation can bring about the structural transformations that our society needs so much.

In these four decades, we have faced countless attempts to criminalize the struggle for social justice. No other organization has suffered as many threats from Parliamentary Committees by conservative forces. We celebrate and express our gratitude for the solidarity we receive in the face of the unsuccessful attempt of the extreme right wing to criminalize us with the opening of a CPI (Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry) against the MST, which also sought to intimidate the Lula government.

We are concerned with the escalation of conflicts in the countryside, marked by the criminalization and assassinations of members of maroon communities, indigenous and landless peasant leaders throughout the country.

Initiatives such as “Invasão Zero” stimulate the escalation of violence by the militias of large landowners and agribusiness sectors in defense of backwardness and one of the highest rates of land concentration in the world. We stand in solidarity with the families of those who fell in the struggle for the land, the defense of natural resources and the recognition of their territories.

A promoter of death, the Bancada Ruralista (informal parliamentary alliance of the agribusiness and large landowners) approved the unrestricted use of pesticides, attacked indigenous lands, wasted money in false solutions to the climate crisis and financed the coup attempt on January 8, 2023.

We are concerned that the first year of Lula’s government ended with the same number of families awaiting regularization of their access to land as at the beginning of his mandate. There are many possibilities to solve this liability, since the government is determined to confront the land grabbing and agricultural concentration that has historically marked the Brazilian land structure.

This, however requires a budget for the Ministry of Agrarian Development and INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform) that is capable of resuming public policies for agrarian reform in 2024, and that has real conditions to structure and strengthen the organization of those who produce healthy food, protect nature and promote social justice.

Agrarian Reform is a structural and strategic action to combat various economic and social ills in our country, such as the destruction of nature, deforestation and illegal logging, the hunger that devastates the lives of millions of people, and the concentration of income and power.

For this reason, we commit ourselves to continue fighting for the democratization of access to land, for the protection of natural resources and for the guarantee of the rights of the people and communities of the countryside, rivers, and forests, to exercise autonomy in their territories.

We reaffirm our commitment to the Brazilian people and to the construction of a more just and egalitarian nation through the struggle and construction of the Popular Agrarian Reform. More than the democratization of the land, agrarian reform, for us, must produce healthy food to feed the entire Brazilian people, protect the common goods of nature and build a dignified life in the countryside.

We commit ourselves to fight against the climate crisis created by the countries of the Global North, by the world’s rich, by transnational polluters and by agribusiness. We commit ourselves to the preservation of the common goods of nature and maintain our goal of planting 100 million trees and demand that the government makes a commitment to Zero Deforestation and a massive reforestation policy.

We commit ourselves to fight against all forms of oppression and injustice, to confront tirelessly all forms of racism, discrimination and LGBTphobia. We stand in solidarity and will not be silent in the face of the genocide of the Palestinian people in Gaza, led by the State of Israel and the United States, nor in the face of the illegal imprisonment of Julian Assange, an activist for the democratization of information and denouncer of US war crimes.

Finally, we reaffirm the commitment we made forty years ago: we will fight until the evils of large land holdings are extinguished from our society and with it all oppression, misery, environmental destruction and hunger.

We want to reaffirm these commitments in our daily struggle, but especially in our VII National Congress, to be held in July of this year in Brasília (Federal District).

We invite the Brazilian people to celebrate our culture and our production and to get to know the update of our Popular Agrarian Reform Program; how we propose to build a countryside and a country with a dignified and healthy life!

Long live the Brazilian people! Long live the struggle of the people!

Lutar, Construir Reform Agraria Popular | Fight! Build Popular Agrarian Reform!

Toward the VII MST National Congress
Nacional Florestan Fernandes School, Guararema, 27 January 2024.

Landless Rural Workers’ Movement – MST.