This year "The Outcry of the Excluded Ones" happened in conjunction with the Popular Referendum for the Limit on Land Ownership. The popular referendum is the initiative of a Forum on land reform in Brazil created years ago by 54 different entities, including unions, religious organizations, NGOs and social movements. The Referendum is not an 'official' one, as it is not carried out by the government. In it, people can vote 'YES' or 'NO' on two questions. It is one instrument for the society to express itself and for politicians to do act to progress on the neglected issue of land reform.
As I wrote in my previous post, the statistics are 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.
This year I was very glad to participate actively in both "The Outcry of the Excluded Ones" and the referendum. Many families from Brazlândia - a city in the outskirts of Brasília - who have no real housing took part. They participate in a movement called Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto (MTST). Other friends from other movements also participated in the celebrations. I had the opportunity of hoping on the sound truck and speaking to the crowd representing Evangélicos Pela Justiça (Evangelicals for Justice). It is a group still in formation that seeks to act and debate social and political issues in relation to religion. I basically said that we were there in support of the Outcry and that we support the needed land reform in Brazil. And that the disparity in the resource distribution in Brazil is absurd.
You can see some photos below.
|Milena and Samuel putting signs on the grass|
|This is me speaking on the sound truck|