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The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) of Brazil will have its 6th Congress on its 30th anniversary and as one of the principle social movements at global level. Due to the current economic and political context in Brazil, the struggles it leads face serious challenges. For these reasons, the 6th Congress will be a space for debates, exchanges, confirmation of historical demands, but also to celebrate.
This is what Kelli Mafor, member of the national coordination of the movement and its gender department, said in an interview with Real World Radio.
“In these 30 years we have built an organization that focuses on agrarian reform, land and transforming society”, said Kelly. But the reality of the power structures of the Brazilian countryside, according to the activist, has been transformed in response to “an alliance among large estate owners, big companies and transnational capital, the financial capital, banks and the media”.
This has made it necessary to update the demands. For this reason it is important that the movement focuses on popular agrarian reform, different from the traditional agrarian reform, where the interests of markets and capital continued being prioritized.
As part of the evolution of the Brazilian peasant struggles, we can´t disregard the role of women. According to Kelly, the gender issue and the feminist struggle should go hand in hand with issues linked to structural changes. In this way, she explained that as part of this understanding, the actions of women (not just of the MST, but of Via Campesina Brazil) are many times addressed to transnational corporations. Moreover, she made reference to an action carried out in 2006 by women against Aracruz Celulose, to denounce the advance of the so called green desert model through the production of tree monocultures, but also to “stress the fundamental difference between the landless movement´s project and the struggle for agrarian reform and on the other side the agribusiness and monoculture´s project”.
This is part of the struggles framed in a peasant and popular feminism. According to the Brazilian activist “this feminism is present in the struggles against agribusiness, transnational companies, mining and also in the organization of women in production projects, aiming for the financial autonomy of women and their self-organization”.
In terms of the 6th MST Congress, she pointed out that in addition to the fact that it will take place on their 30th anniversary, there are several challenges faced by the Brazilian people nowadays: “agrarian reform is being practically eliminated from the political agenda of Brazil. So we are in the middle of a struggle to give a new meaning to agrarian reform, for us, the ones who struggle for land, and also for the people who are being poisoned by the agribusiness food, affected by GM seeds and the looting of natural resources”.
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