Guide Land, Protest, and Politics: The Landless Movement and the Struggle for Agrarian Reform in Brazil

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Sign in via your Institution. Although Lula is still leading in the polls, with 32 percent of the vote, the second in the running is the fascist politician Jair Bolsanaro, with 17 percent. The rest of the dozen or so center-right and center-left candidates have fewer supporters than the total number of predicated null votes. Looking at electoral politics, the prospects for the Brazilian left are grim; nonetheless, there is still some hope that the social movements that have emerged over the past three decades will continue mobilizing even in this increasingly conservative context.

The MST, as one of the most important contemporary social movements, is a good thermometer of the overall state of the left under these new political developments. Let me be clear: It is important not to be overly optimistic about the prospects for this grassroots movement. MST leaders also fear that land speculators will take advantage of the privatization of settlements and buy up large swaths of these areas.

Even in the unlikely scenario that a left-leaning president wins in , more than two years of a well-orchestrated, frontal attack on the MST, through a diverse set of strategies, will undoubtedly serve to weaken the movement. Yet, there are also reasons for some cautious optimism. First, the spike in violence and repression against the movement, along with the increase in economic inequality that the current policy regime is likely to produce, 14 has the potential of generating a surge of support for the MST and willingness to participate in MST-led occupations and protests.

After all, it was in the era of Fernando Henrique Cardoso , when there was an escalation of violent repression, that the MST had its broadest support and won the most land redistribution. The youth involved in agrarian reform is the second reason for optimism.

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Over thirty years, the MST has been able to win access to 2, schools with over 8, teachers attending to , students. State and municipal governments administer almost all of these schools, and many of these subnational governments allow the MST to participate in educational co-governance. Although government support was initially critical for funding these programs, many university professors who became committed activists through their involvement will continue to work with the MST, independently of the federal government.

Throughout the s, MST leaders found countless allies and state configurations to institutionalize their political, economic, and educational goals—partly because the mobilizations of the s had transformed Brazilian society. Now, in the context of a conservative, anti-participatory, and old-school-neoliberal federal government, MST leaders have to defend their previous gains through mobilizations and protests, find new institutional arrangements at subnational levels to support their political project, and perhaps most importantly, use the accumulated fruits of their thirty-year war of position to sustain the many movement activities that do not require a formal political-institutional expression.

Lula was convicted and jailed in April This was the expulsion of the Trotskyist tendency Socialist Convergence, whose activists founded the Unified Socialist Workers Party in The total number of families living in occupied encampments and settlements is not captured in Fig.

Landless Workers' Movement

These numbers represent all land occupations, not only MST-led land occupations, as there are dozens of organizations in Brazil that occupy land. Between and , the MST led 63 percent of all land occupations. As I am writing this article in May , Brazil is in political economic chaos as truck drivers are striking throughout the country over gasoline prices. References Braga, R.

Brazil: “ was the worst year ever for agrarian reform” - Equal Times

Braga, R. Global Dialogue , 6 3. Branford, S. London: Latin America Bureau. Carter, M. Dagnino, E. Alvarez, E.

Escobar Eds. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Fernandes, B. Goldfrank, B. La Botz, D. New Politics , 15 2. Mauro, G. Retrieved from www2. Lula in the Labyrinth. New Left Review , Oliveira, F. Ondetti, G. Paschel, T. Pereira, J. Pereira Eds. Poletto, E. Singer, A. Novos Estudos , 85 , 83— Tarlau, R.

Millei Eds. Dordrecht: Springer. Journal of Peasant Studies , 42 6 , — Teachers College Record , Vergara-Camus, L. London: Zed Books.

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