Around 16,000 delegates of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) from 24 Brazilian states launched the 6th Congress of the movement on February 10 in Brasilia, capital of the country. The aim of the congress is to “politically assess the MST, what we built, what we achieved, and also to talk about the challenges ahead of us in the next period”, said Marina Dos Santos, from the MST National Coordination in an interview with Real World Radio conducted by Viviana Rojas, of La Via Campesina International´s communication team.
In addition to discussing the Brazilian and Latin American peasant movement, Marina said that another goal of this 6th Congress is to raise a political debate with the social movements in general that could encompass the working class as a whole.
In these 30 years there have been many achievements by the MST, said Marina, and she highlighted some of the most important. The first one is related to land: “we have approximately 350,000 families settled, who have conquered lands (…) These settlements are distributed in around 1200 municipalities and cover around 8 million hectares”. And she added: “There are approximately 700 campsites with 90 thousand families in the 24 states where we are organized”.
Education and capacity building is also one of the main achievements highlighted by the peasant activist: “the education process at the MST has always been a priority, from preschool to university, in addition to the alphabetization process in young adults.
Today, we have five thousand young people attending University, taking classes on: pedagogy, agronomy, economy, communication, social work, law. We have nearly 100 students taking medicine and art history classes in Cuba. This is extremely important for us”.
As part of this training process, Marina highlighted the creation and consolidation of the Florestan Fernandez National School, a reference for the education of activists with classes in its headquarters (located in Sao Paulo), but also in other Brazilian states and at Latin American level.
Participation of women in the movement is another aspect considered as a victory by the movement: “we managed to have a capacity building process for women that is reflected in equal participation of women at grassroots and at national level”.
About the Congress itself, Marina said that in addition to the debates and discussions taking place until Friday 14, there is a space for children with their own activities and agenda, in which around 1000 children, sons and daughters of the campsites and settlements, are participating. On Wednesday, together with other movements, the MST will organize a massive march through Brasilia. Lastly, outside the congress venue there is an Agrarian Reform National Market where the peasants share food produced without “poisons” in the different municipalities of the country.
“No queremos ser mártires, no queremos que hayan más mártires en este país, pero también hay una responsabilidad histórica de hacer valer la palabra y demostrar que tenemos derecho a la construcción de un mundo mejor. Y no podemos huir a esa responsabilidad”, dijo a Radio Mundo Real la dirigente garífuna Miriam Miranda, coordinadora de la Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña (OFRANEH).
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