Brazil: Failure of the “agrarian reform” of da Silva – Peasants struggle and occupy the land

Featured image: the president of Brazil, “Lula” da Silva . Source: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP.

The Brazilian newspaper A Nova Democracia (AND) explained in an article on Tuesday 3rd of October, that the so-called “agrarian reform” promised by the government of Luiz Inácio da Silva had only fulfilled 10% of the peasant settlements it had promised. Also, the budget allocated for such land redistribution was even smaller than that was set by Bolsonaro, with 202 million Brazilian Reais (R$) for 2024, instead of the near to 250 million in 2023.

During the last elections, da Silva used the “agrarian reform” as a matter to attract votes. It was one of the attacks he made on Bolsonaro, claiming it was one of the setbacks of his government. But the reality is that in Brazil it was already criticized after a few months of the PT government, that nothing was being done to advance with the so-called “agrarian reform”. The peasantry had not been fooled by da Silva’s promises, and faced with the PT government’s blockade of land redistribution. The peasants decided to take the land with their own forces. In the month of February, during the so-called “Carnaval Vermelho”, AND reported that 1,400 families occupied latifundiums throughout the country.

Peasant occupation in February. The following message can be read in the banner: “This land is public, it belongs to the Agrarian Reform”. Source: AND.

In the month of March the redistribution of land was completely stopped, and a wave of peasant mobilizations was expected to arrive soon in the so-called “Abril Vermelho”. In the same month, the Minister for Agrarian Development, Paulo Teixeira, stated that they wanted to accelerate the distribution of land, but that everything should be within the law and the peasant mobilizations should be peaceful. Also he stated that conflict or land occupations would not be allowed.

During the summer, steps continued to be taken in defense of the latifundium and its interests by the PT government led by Luiz Inácio da Silva: in June, the president of Brazil stated that “the small and medium producer is not incompatible with the large” and that “agrobusiness will be strengthened and agrarian reform will be carried out.” While the allocation of land and settlement of peasant families was devoid of strength and budget, as was already denounced by AND, that money was redirected to the latifundium. A large financing plan was prepared for the latifundium, the “Harvest Plan (in Portuguese, Plano Safra)”, for the period 2023-2024, dedicating 364,220 billion (R$) to this plan, allocating 16% to medium and large landowners, and the rest to big landlords. We have reported earlier on this. In August, AND reported that another 227.5 million (R$) had been allocated to the latifundium.

The article we quoted earlier from AND also explained that according to MST estimates, there were 100,000 peasant families organized throughout Brazil. Throughout this year thousands of families have struggled against the Brazilian State and the latifundium, occupying land, maintaining it and producing. Thousands of peasants carried out this struggle led by the Liga dos Camponeses Pobres (LCP), and numerous cases of struggle can be read through the AND.

Faced with this peasant mobilization, the response of the PT government and it’s head has been none other than militarization in the countryside. As was denounced by AND, the current government has increased the use of troops from the National Public Security Force (Força Nacional de Segurança Pública – FNSP), a special and militarized police force, compared to the previous Bolsonaro government. Until June 2023, they have been deployed or their deployment has been extended in up to 10 Indigenous Territories, equivalent to 66% of the operations in which this police force has been used. Bolsonaro used them 45% of times for these purposes. This FNSP has participated in several executions of peasants, thus acting as gunmen of the latifundium.

The peasantry has not remained silent in the face of this response of the current government at the service of the latifundium. The peasant mobilizations continue, for example the 28th of September 300 indigenous Kaingang peasants, tired of waiting, decided to take the lands from the local latifundium, the “Fazenda de Tamarana”. In September, the LCP issued a statement that clearly showed the attitude of the peasantry towards the false “agrarian reform” of Luiz Inácio da Silva and to the attacks of his government and the latifundium: “We call on the peasant leaders of land occupations who did not bend the knee, and there are thousands of them throughout Brazil, the squatter leaders, the indigenous peoples, the quilombola organizations, the populations affected by dams, mining and eucalyptus cultivation, the proletarian masses and others city workers, who increasingly fight in defense of their trampled rights, to close ranks with our brave peasantry, with the path of the Agrarian Revolution. The hysterical latifundium, lord of everything, screams. The pig’s grunt is a sign of its death. Death to the latifundium!”.

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