The Movement´s chief aims are:
A Just Society for all.
Cooperative owned by fifty families.
A few years ago this was unproductive land.
In the wake of these aims, the Movement is against
multinationals possessing large portions of land, sometimes
bigger than many countries in Europe. It favors the
extinction of the improductive fazendas and the just
redistribution of the land among peasants.
The Movement defends Brazilian Amerindian land against
the encroachment of the Brazilian- and foreigner-held
estates. It makes it a point to bring to the courts the
murderers of harmless peasants killed because they wanted a
decent living on a farmland.
Landed Youth Congress
In Brazil the Landless Peasants´ Movement has been
organized in 22 states. During these twelve years, almost
140,000 families acquired land. The most important achievment
is that the majority of these already settled families
organize themselves in production cooperatives. The
families´ standard of living immediately increases,
especially where agroindustries are developed. According to
FAO the average monthly family wage in the settlements is
aproximately $ 370 while in the cooperatives the average
family wage is $ 560, higher than the national average of $
School for children in one of the
The technical and the political formation of the new
settler families is a priority to the Movement, especially
with regard to education (which is synonymous to
conscience-raising plus schooling and not to mere literacy).
The Movement has 38,000 students with 1,500 teachers. Many
leaders have been trained as teachers and administrators of
cooperatives so that they could continue the work among
millions of peasants who are still landless. Thirty young men
are reading Zootechny, Agronomy, Law and Administration at
Before occupation the Fazenda São Joaquim (2.835
hectares) in the municipality of Teixeira Soares, Paraná,
had 1 family, no crops, 2 horses, 10 acres of pasture. The
owners were absentees and lived in Curitiba. After the
occupation by landless peasants and without receiving any
help from the government, 107 families now live on the
fazenda. In 1994 they produced 20,000 sacks of corn, 1.100
sacks of beans, 600 sacks of rice. At present they have 530
cows, 600 pigs and 80 sheep while 30 houses, a primary school
and a health centre have been built. Through hard work,
determination and with the chief aims in mind these
ex-landless peasants have organized themselves and achieved a
Landed children keep the vegetable
For the first years the estates of the Peasants´
Agrarian Reform are collectively owned. The Movement is very
particular in inviting all the families in a
recently-acquired settlement to form a cooperative and an
agroindustry. The Movement knows that if land, acquired with
extreme sacrifice, months of waiting in makeshift huts, legal
struggles and even death of peasants, is left to the
vicissitudes of individuals, the powerful landowners once
more will slyly encroach on the same land and force the
individual family to sell it. The formation of cooperatives
has been the solution. In 1996 there were 45 production and
10 regional cooperatives in various states, especially in the
south of Brazil with an average of 81 and 428 members each
Landless Peasants´ Movement leader
who works successfully in the north of Paraná.
At the initial stages of the Movement, financial help
coming from the European Community (exclusively to pay
lawyers) and church organizations (Bread for the World,
Misereor, Cebemo, Icco, Christian Aid, Mani Tese, Development
and Peace, Charitas) was fundamental for the organization.
Today this is a trickle in face of the huge and dire
necessities of the settlers´ colonies. On the other hand,
the already landed farmer and the cooperatives contribute at
the rate of 2% of production to those who still live in
plastic huts on the roadside awaiting a piece of land.
In the 167 land occupations with 44.647 families in
1996 the Landless Peasants´ Movement collected $ 12 million
for the plastic huts, transport and food for 30 days. The
Movement´s pressure on the government created the Procera
(Special Credit Program for the Agrarian Reform) in 1996.
This has been one of the chief means of social and economical
development of the Movement´s settlers.
At present in Brazil there are 244 camp sites with
45,000 families especially in the south (Pinhal Ralo) and the
north (Querência do Norte, Cruzeiro do Sul, Tamarana) of
Paraná, in the Pontal do Paranapanema region in the state of
São Paulo and in Mato Grosso.
Mass at the peasants´ camp
on the first anniversary of acquisition of land.
These families live in makeshift plastic huts on the
roadside near an unproductive fazenda. They are waiting for
the technicians of the Agrarian Reform Institute to declare
the fazenda unproductive so that they could plant crops for
This is perhaps one of the largest
land occupations in Brazil.
3000 families occupied 80,000 hectares of unproductive land
in the south of Paraná near Iguaçu Falls.
Normally they lack food, medicine and other basic
necessities. Heroic determination keeps them on the dirt
Prayers for Divine Help
On the other hand, there are 1,564 Movement
settlements, especially in the states of Rio Grande do Sul,
Paraná, Sáo Paulo and Pará. The produce of the acquired
estates is cooperatively owned and shared. Although their
fledging agroindustries are still at the beginning, they help
the landless camp people in some of their basic needs.
Since there is no true government policy for land
reform, the process is long and extenuating for the almost
starving families waiting for land to plant their crops and
escape from misery. The process is as follows:
- - INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and
Land Reform) experts visit the fazenda to verify
whether it is productive or not.
- - If it is improductive, INCRA sends a report to
Brasilia to divest the owner of the property and to
compensate him with a just sum of money.
- - If divestment is decided, a presidential decree
is published and the evaluation of the property in
money is made.
- - The process is sent to Treasury and the Federal
Justice decrees on divestment of property. A
socially-minded judge will give a quick solution to
the question. However, intentionally, it takes some
three to four months for a court to decide estimates.
At this stage, difference in price between the court
and the owner is the main obstacle.
It has to be borne in mind that:
- 1. some fazenda owners do not have a true document
- 2. some owners may have borrowed money from the
government in recent years for agricultural purposes
and then used the money for speculative investments
and not for crops;
- 3. unbelievable extensions of land have remained
unproductive because the owner only wanted the
property for speculative aims and/or as a mortage and
pledge for debts;
- 4. practically, the owners never paid any income
tax on this property, forfeiting the government of
cash to be used for social purposes;
- 5. improvements on the fazenda consisted of
hedges, houses for henchmen and barns for which the
owner asks hundreds of thousands of dollars as a