Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Brasília and social movements

The meeting was scheduled for 7 PM at a building downtown. I didn't know where it was exactly, but I had the address. It was a meeting to organize the Popular Referendum for the limit on land ownership in Brazil. Brazil is the second worst country in land distribution, just behind Paraguay. The statistics are very sad.

  • 1% of the properties occupy more than 44% of the overall owned land.
  • There are 4 million families without access to land ownership.
  • Urban population continues to grow rapidly and the rural population continues to decline.
  • 11 million families live in "favelas" (slums) or unlawful areas, or risky areas
CPT ('Pastoral Commission of the Land' - Comissão Pastoral da Terra, a catholic entity) registers anually the violence related to land concentration. On average over the past 25 years from 1985 to 2005 there were yearly:
  •  2,709 families expelled from their land !
  • 63 people assassinated in land disputes !
  • 13,815 families expelled by the Judiciary with orders executed by the Executive through the police
  • 422 people arrested because of land disputes !
  • 765 conflicts directly related to the fight for the land !
  • 92,290 families involved in conflicts for the land !
In absolute numbers, over these past 25 years there were 1,163 assassination occurrences  with the death of 1,546 rural workers. Out of these 1,163 assassination occurrences  only 85 were judged, with the condemnation of 20 masterminds and 71 executioners. Out of the 20 masterminds found guilty, the only one currently arrested is Mr. Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura (Bida), found guilty for being the mastermind of the assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang (the case got international press coverage).
  Also, the very large land properties and agrobusiness often impose working conditions analogous to slavery. CPT recorded throughout these 25 years (1985-2009) 2,438 occurrences of slavery, in which there were 163,000 workers involved.

  I arrived at the meeting. There were around 8 people, men and women. Young and old. Some of them brought snacks to share. We were discussing details of how to carry out the popular referendum on the limit of land ownership. I was there representing Evangelicals for Justice, a new group that acts on social and political matters. The sharing of the snacks turned the gathering into a holy place for me. 

Source of data: Fórum Nacional pela Reforma Agrária e Justiça no Campo
Translation: Gustavo K-fé Frederico

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