Brazilian MST Reaffirms the Need for an Integral Agrarian Reform to Feed Humanity and Cool Down the Planet—A Dialogue with Marina Dos Santos

Source: Radio Mundo Real / The Dawn News / July 15, 2017

Shortly after the beginning of the 7th International Conference of La Vía Campesina in Basque Country, we interviewed Marina Dos Santos, who is a member of the organization that founded this international network of peasants: the Landless Workers’ Movement of Brazil.

“The 7th Conference is very important because nowadays we’re going through very rough times with a severe political, economic, environmental and ethical crisis—not only in Brazil but around the world. In this sense, the Conference is a way for representatives of farmers from every continent to analyze the current juncture and organize strategic points of struggle and our internal organization”, Dos Santos said in a telephonic communication from Sao Paulo, hours before heading towards the Basque town of Derio, where around five hundred peasant representatives will meet.

“Today, the struggles for land and agrarian reform are the most important around the world. If states don’t create policies to decentralize the ownership of nature’s goods and put them at the service of society, we won’t achieve Food Sovereignty. The struggle for the Integral Agrarian Reform is the biggest fight that’s being fought across all continents, and therefore it will be at the core of our 7th Conference”, Marina said.

Radio Mundo Real: Lately, the Landless Workers’ Movement has found an unexpected ally in catholic Pope Francis, whose has used his voice to claim for land, rights, social justice and climate justice. What do you think this new alliance means?

Marina Dos Santos: Indeed, it is very important for us to have such an important friend. The fact that the maximum leader of the Catholic church has a stance of defense of peasants and of nature’s riches in this particular juncture for Brazil and Latin America where the repression and criminalization of people in rural areas has increased is crucial. And to us his thoughts on the main issues we are concerned with—land, housing and work—are very valuable. It is important for the working class of rural and urban areas to unite and struggle for these three main issues, which are the three points that he highlights. We hope to discuss these three issues at the Conference to build an international agenda”.

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Radio Mundo Real: Speaking about allies to the peasant movement, there’s a long-withstanding alliance with the World Women’s March, and with the environmentalist political movement Friends of the Earth International. Will there be new alliances this year?

Marina Dos Santos: We’ll be joined by many allies and representatives of many regions and countries, from all five continents. The alliances grow on the basis of agreements on the positions we defend regarding environment, food sovereignty, agriculture, and our struggles for agrarian reform, water and territory, and in the last few years I believe allies have also grown involved with the participation of women, youth and the LGBTI community. I believe the participation and discussion with these allies will be very important, as it has always been.