We publish an unofficial translation of the weekly editorial of the Brazilian popular and democratic newspaper, A Nova Democracia (New Democracy), published 13th of March 2023.
Weekly Editorial – Serving God and the Devil?
The occupations by the MST1 of the lands of the landowning monopoly Suzano, in the South of Bahia, even if withdrawing from them soon after, was already enough to leave the reactionary coalition government with a ‘short skirt’. Lula is under pressure, on the one hand, even from the opportunist leadership in the peasant movement – which is demanding an “agrarian reform plan” – and on the other hand, from the latifundium and their extensive parliamentary benches, which are demanding that the agrarian-peasant issue be swept off the national political agenda once again.
On the 8th of last month, the Minister of Agrarian Development, Paulo Teixeira, said in a statement to the press and in a message to both sides of the conflict: “We want peace in the countryside,” referring to the government; at the end of his speech, however, he made it clear that the message was to reassure the latifundium and threaten the peasant movement: “Respect for the right to property will be a key issue”. This is the minister that should be responsible for the “agrarian reform”.
In a meeting between Suzano, the MST leadership and the so-called minister, the answer was that there is no money for “agrarian reform”. The report of the press monopoly CNN Brasil revealed that the government has allocated only R$ 2.4 million to INCRA, responsible for the “agrarian reform”. The Suzano latifundia occupied by the peasant masses alone would cost R$ 40 million, in fat ” compensations “, which only serve to capitalize the landowners in values inflated by speculation. It is worth pointing out that, in the face of this, the MST leadership only shows its teeth, like an intimidated dog, leaving the peasant masses it leads adrift in roadside shacks.
If there is a lack of money for the failed “agrarian reform”, there is plenty for the latifundia. The Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Favaro, asked, on the same day, for a contribution from the National Treasury to fill the large landowners’ ditches with large sums of money. The amount destined to “agribusiness”, in the form of short-term lines of credit with subsidized interest rates, may reach the amount of R$ 1 billion. Luiz Inácio’s notable minister also stated that this resource is necessary and will allow agribusiness to raise more than R$30 billion in bank loans. The objectives are twofold: first, to show that the government does not intend to do anything against agribusiness; second, to appease the landowner parliamentary base on which it depends for the approval of its measures that seek to reform the economy in order to deepen the penetration of imperialist capital in the country, and whose failure would mean an even greater crisis in the government, instability, destabilization, and pressure for its resignation or impeachment.
It was the peasant resistance and the most consistent clashes of the struggle for land that put the agrarian-peasant issue back on the agenda; it was the great struggles of the poor peasants, in Rondônia, against the genocidal military government of Bolsonaro and the Armed Forces High Command. Luiz Inácio, in his cheap demagogy, will have to deal with this. The center of support for the economy has increasingly become agribusiness; this will deepen the pursuit of land, increase its price, and, therefore, the large landowners will deepen their gun-running to seize public lands, where poor peasant live, and will seek to attack their movement of struggle for land; the peasants have already shown throughout the history of the country that they know how to react, and they will know how to do it better today than they did yesterday. Luiz Inácio, whose nature as a hardened manipulator at the service of the large estates and the big bourgeoisie does not change, will be unmasked as the demands of agribusiness and the peasant struggle grow.
At the head of the reactionary coalition government, Luiz Inácio only plays the stage, and neither the latifundium nor the MST leadership is God or Devil. Luiz Inácio only serves one side, the landowners, the big bourgeoisie and imperialism. But for them the devil is the combative peasant movement!
1Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, MST (Landless Workers’ Movement)