The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) turns 36 in Minas Gerais. It was on February 12, 1988 that the first MST occupation came to life at Fazenda Aruega, in Novo Cruzeiro, a municipality in Vale do Mucuri. Since then, with a trajectory that highlights the solidarity of the people of Minas Gerais, the movement has accumulated a legacy of thousands of lives transformed by access to land, education and culture.
Currently, there are more than 25 thousand people in 40 camps and 43 settlements spread across nine of the state’s 12 regions. On the lots, landless families dedicate themselves to the production of healthy food, but they also have the opportunity to experience literacy, training and artistic processes.
Maria José Santos, known as Mara, went to live with her family in the movement’s first occupation when she was just seven years old. She says that her entire individual trajectory is mixed with the MST’s history of struggles and achievements. She currently lives in the Nova Vida settlement, also in Novo Cruzeiro.
Collectivity and solidarity
As a child, Mara had the opportunity to participate in the first state meeting of “landless” children. She was an educator for young people and adults in her adolescence, graduated from the National Program for Education in Agrarian Reform (Pronera) — which is a historic achievement of the movement — and is now a regional leader of the movement.
“The MST allows the experience of community life, of experiencing a school in movement, of participating in religiosity made up of the people and in a faith that is made up of collective and concrete actions. The movement allowed me to be in the world in a critical way, based on my experience in the settlement, in meetings, in struggles and mobilizations”, says Mara.
For her, over the last 36 years the organization has also imprinted solidarity as one of its main hallmarks.
“Our achievements are shared with those around us and with society. We not only share production, but also knowledge, values and culture. This is a very beautiful way to learn the movement”, explains Mara.
Brasilino Moreira da Silva, based in the Vale do Rio Doce region, highlights that, among the MST’s various achievements in Minas Gerais, the movement’s main asset is the activism dedicated to building it.
“Settlements are territories free from exploitation, because people become owners of their own land. Our greatest asset is these people and their activism. We have been working hard in our organization to build a truly popular and mass movement”, she assesses.
In addition to the fight for agrarian reform, the MST has a deep commitment to transforming the Brazilian reality. To achieve this, the movement cultivates a set of principles, such as the centrality of work, collective direction and internal democracy, and has developed an organic structure, which allows the combination of forms of struggle.
Currently, the movement has organized sectors in the state of education, health, production and mobilization, called the “mass front”, in addition to collectives and cooperatives.
Furthermore, in the last period, the MST opened dozens of Armazéns do Campo, which sell poison-free products and provide access to art and popular culture in large cities. Belo Horizonte, Juiz de Fora and Montes Claros are examples of municipalities in Minas Gerais where the store is present.
National leader who helped in the process of consolidating the MST in the state, Ênio Bohnenberger explains that one of the movement’s greatest lessons throughout its history in Minas Gerais was that it is necessary to stand out and have the capacity to compete for society.
“We are not just fighting for land, within the latifundium. We learned to develop the various forms of struggle. Those who know us from afar see the MST through its occupations, which is really our main brand. But we have developed many more things over these 36 years”, highlights Ênio.
“We are currently developing, for example, a large tree replanting program in the Paraopeba River basin, which was affected by the collapse of the Vale dam in Brumadinho. These actions provide us with a legacy, without ever losing the centrality of the mass struggle”, he adds.
Along this trajectory, the movement also organized several editions of Agrarian Reform, art and culture festivals, and training days in the outskirts.
Source: BdF Minas Gerais
Editing: Larissa Costa
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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