Letter about the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) against the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) and against Agrarian Reform

To the President of the House of Parliament

Deputy Arthur Lira

and to the leaders of all parties.

Members of Parliament,

We the undersigned are very concerned about the direction that the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry (CPI) against the MST has taken as a result of the declarations of Ruralist parliamentarians from the opposition and the nature of the sessions of the inquiry.

There is a clear intent to criminalize the MST, rural movements as well as movements fighting for housing in the city. The Brazilian constitution guarantees the legitimate rights of all categories of workers to organize and to carry out different forms of mobilization in the struggle to guarantee their historical rights.

It is established in our jurisprudence that an occupation carried out by popular movements in a collective way does not constitute an invasion but rather seeks to pressure the authorities to apply the law and resolve the constitutional dictates of guaranteeing land for those who work on it, decent housing and work.

The agrarian reality and the historical unjust distribution of property will not likely be the object of research and analysis by the CPI according to its work plan. And we all know how many crimes are committed in rural areas by the wealthy landholding classes as well as the forms of exploitation of nature, which affect all of Brazilian society.

It’s enough just to recall the spread of environmental crimes such as deforestation and burning in all biomes that cause climate change affecting the entire Brazilian population and even the entire continent!

Crimes related to slave labor, in rural areas and even in urban and domestic jobs.

Crimes related to the invasion of public lands and indigenous and quilombola areas, with the aim of stealing lumber, carrying out illegal mining and appropriating natural resources that are common goods of all society.

Crimes related to the abusive use of pesticides, which kill biodiversity and contaminate groundwater, springs, and rivers. And they affect public health resulting in proven cases of cancer caused by glyphosate.

Crimes committed against people, in the dozens of murders of workers, indigenous peoples and their supporters that have occurred historically, and which have been widely recorded and denounced by the Pastoral Land Commission and which, for the most part, remain unpunished.

We witness the effort of the MST and other popular movements in the countryside to develop a people’s agrarian reform, which serves the interests of all Brazilian people.

Land reform is a necessity determined by our constitution for the expropriation of large unproductive properties as mandated by the constitution, guaranteeing the democratization of land ownership and job opportunities for all families.

But now people’s agrarian reform also embodies other paradigmatic principles, such as the need to defend nature, protect forests, and guarantee zero deforestation!

The main activity of agrarian reform now is the production of healthy food for all people, which requires the adoption of agroecology.

The MST supports the industrialization of our country, adopting and replicating cooperative forms of agroindustry as a way of processing food and preserving it to supply urban populations. Agroindustry is also a vehicle for the inclusion of work by women and youth in the countryside.

The MST also supports the mechanization of family farming as a way to increase the productivity of work in rural areas and contribute to the reindustrialization of the country.

It defends access to education at all levels up to higher education, which is made possible by the PRONERA program, which has adopted a rotative system to facilitate both study and agricultural work increasing access to education for young people living in the countryside, reducing the need to emigrate.

It defends our Brazilian culture and cuisine, as part of the socialization and well-being of our population.

This is a necessary program for development that is needed by all Brazilian people.

For all these reasons, we express our concern with the direction that the CPI is taking, and we hope that your Excellencies will ensure republican and democratic principles to prevent the use of rhetoric to propagate lies and other abuses, hatred, violence, discrimination and useless persecution, which contribute nothing to the solution of real agrarian problems.

We are in solidarity with the MST because, in its 40 years of activity, it has contributed to the struggle against poverty, social inequality and to the improvement of the living conditions of our people.

Yours sincerely

June, 2023.

Afonsinho, physician, and former soccer playerCarol Proner, jurist and university professorCelia Gonçalves, Makota do povo de terreiros, from CENARAB
Eduardo Moreira, economist.Fernando Morais, writerFrei Betto, writer and adviser to popular movements
Jacques Alfonsin, juristJose Trajano, sports commentator.Chico Buarque, writer and musician.
Ariovaldo Ramos, evangelical pastor

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