By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Protesting against the country’s agribusiness model, thousands of landless Brazilians have been marching on highways, occupying rural properties and public buildings since the beginning of the month. According to the MST (Landless Workers Movement) at least 30,000 rural workers have participated in these actions in 22 states throughout Brazil since March 3rd.
“Rural workers are protesting against the Brazilian agribusiness model and propose agro-ecology as an alternative to foreign capital in agriculture,” stated a note released by the MST to the press. The protests are to continue until the middle of March.
This year, says MST officials, the protests are led by women workers who are also protesting the traditional domination of men in the fields. The protest marches are part of the MST agenda dubbed The National Worker Women’s Protest Journey.
“The two fights have a direct relation, they show that the Agrarian Reform in this country has not pushed forward due to the government’s support for the [current] agribusiness model and capital,” says Kelli Mafort, one of the coordinators of the MST.
“In addition the women are the ones who feel the most impact due to the lack of access to the land and natural resources, since the [landless worker] class domination is associated to a historic oppression of the gender, sustained by the men,” she added in an interview published on the MST website.
According to MST officials, landless workers are making their way into large urban centers this week to take part in protests marches scheduled for Friday, March 13th, to show support for President Dilma Rousseff and the PT government. In São Paulo city, for example, five thousand landless workers are expected to descend on Avenida Paulista, one of the city’s main boulevards, on Thursday.
According to the movement, MST protests have been spread throughout the country. Protesters have disrupted highway traffic and occupied public buildings in the Southern states of Santa Catarina, Rio Grande do Sul, and Parana, in the Center-South region of the country, such as Mato Grosso, Brasília, and Goiás, to the Northern states of Maranhão, Bahia, Alagoas, Sergipe, Ceará and Pernambuco and have also been seen in the Southeastern region of Brazil in São Paulo and Espírito Santo.