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Over 100 young people from the Small Farmers Movement (MPA) are meeting in Brasilia, capital of Brazil, from March 29 to April 1 to participate in the first Peasant School of Memory, 50 years after the beginning of the military dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1988.
The dictatorship murdered over 1196 peasants, of which the Brazilian State only recognized 29cases, according to the MPA. The records of the dictatorship are kept in utmost secrecy.
In response to the atrocities perpetrated in this period, the MPA is organizing the first Peasant School of Memory with the goal to recover the facts and nurture the historical memory. For the MPA, the crimes of the dictatorship that ousted president Joao Goulart represent a “chronic illness” that can be seen nowadays “in the human rights abuses and the criminalization of the struggle and the resistance of the peasant movements, the popular struggle, imposed by imperialistic mega-projects that resulted and still result in the most violent and massive displacements of peasants and indigenous people from their territories, among others”.
During his administration, Goulart, who took office after Janio Quadros´ resignation (Goulart was Vice President) passed laws that ensured benefits for urban and rural workers. In addition, he demanded the reduction of the participation of foreign companies in certain strategic economic sectors. In addition, he kept a foreign policy independent from US influence: he resumed relationships with the then Soviet Union and refused to support President John F. Kennedy’s proposed invasion of Cuba.
On March 13, 1964, “Jango” announced the nationalization of oil refineries and the expropriation of lands for the implementation of agrarian reform. Two weeks later, a Coup d´ Etat was staged , which played a key role in the dictatorships of the Southern Cone, as an ideological support of the well-known “Plan Condor”, repressive coordination of Latin American dictatorships.
The participants of the School come from different MPA grassroots groups from 13 Brazilian states. Levante Popular de la Juventud, the Landless Rural Workers
Movement (MST), the Peasant Women Movement (MMC) and the Peasant Commission of Truth also joined the debates about this period of Brazilian history. The activity is also part of the calendar of struggles of the MPA and aims to remember and denounce the atrocities perpetrated by the State against the working class.
Beto, MPA leader, believes that “the school of memory, in the framework of the internal debate of the MPA, implies the recovery of the historical memory for our grassroots youth. It is not possible to understand today´s reality without knowing the historical truth”, he stated.
The young activists joined the historical discussions that are not documented in history or social sciences books. Renata Cardoso, MPA activist, said the following with reference to the School´s importance: “this is a unique activity to get to know our historical truth, with more solid grounds. As a young person and MPA member, I feel more prepared to collaborate with the movement and with the working class in general”.
In the second day of activities, the analysis about the effects of the 1964 coup had the input of Milton Piñeiro, of the Bahia Federal University (UFBA), Brazil. Among the tools to be used by the School we can find the text “Call for the People” by Carlos Marihela, the documentary “EBC Memories from the Dictatorship”, the conference “The historical process of the Dictatorship” with Gilnei Viana and “Peasants and the dictatorship” with Sergio Sauer.
Imagen: For photos and more information: www.mpabrasil.org.br
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