Brazil: The Agrarian Reality and the Central Role of the Peasant Struggle

The struggle for land and the brutal suppression of the peasant population: the ongoing account of the reality of the agrarian question in Brazil

The huge monopolisation of the land ownership by the ”Latifundio” (the big landowners) in Brazil continues to rise and it is the basis of the history of the ongoing economic and social crisis in the country and, it is at the same time, the basis of current intensification conflicts. Only 2% of landowners (around 23,000) with properties above 1000 hectares hold almost 50% of all land titles in the country (210.5 million hectares)! While 90% of those (4.95 million peasant families), small holders (with properties of up to one hundred hectares) hold only 20% of them (84.1 million hectares)! The medium landowners (with properties of a hundred thousand hectares) that are 8% (440.000) hold the remaining 125.9 million hectares. Besides this there are about 5 million landless peasant families.(*)
This structure of land ownership, that maintains and reproduces the archaic semi-feudal system, is the basis on which imperialism has developed bureaucratic capitalism – that is backward capitalism through which monopoly capital, i.e. imperialism, has imposed in dominated countries. Capitalism, of the bureaucratic type, was developed in Brazil when capitalism had passed to its monopoly stage, i.e. the imperialist phase – in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century.
It was propelled forwards mainly by British imperialism in alliance with the big landowners (the rural landowning oligarchies) and large local merchants and importers. The nascent bourgeoisie was weak and having stagnated because capital was already in the imperialist phase, could not advance forward the bourgeois revolution in Brazil. It is also true that the nascent proletariat was unable to lead and advance the national-democratic revolution to its end, leaving it in an incomplete state. This was caused by the weaknesses of the Communist Party, which did not understand its role. A role that under the circumstances at the time demanded that a bourgeois revolution could only be carried out under its leadership. A revolutionary leadership that was based on the worker-peasant alliance and a united front with the small and medium bourgeoisie, conducted through revolutionary armed struggle in order that, on the one hand, it must remove the domination of landowners, destroy the old relations of land ownership, give the land to those who work on it and free the productive forces of the field. On the other hand, it must wipe the imperialist domination and confiscate all the bureaucratic capital (state and non-state), centralizing everything in the hands of the new popular state to promote a new self-reliant economy geared to serve the welfare of the people, advancing new democracy and promote a new culture.
Without these tasks being fulfilled, the fundamental and root causes of the contradictions remain intact, semi-feudal relations continue to remain with some evolution in its forms, consequently determine that Brazil would continue to remain a backward country. Under such conditions all that is called development and industrialization has only deepened the denationalization of the economy and its subjugation to mainly American imperialism. Continue reading

Clashes erupt in Brazil as police evict squatters from high-rise

NELSON ALMEIDA / AFP/GETTY IMAGES — A bus burns Tuesday after being set ablaze during clashes between riot police and people squatting in a building in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

by VINCENT BEVINS, Los Angeles Times, September 16, 2014

Clashes between police and squatters resisting eviction paralyzed Sao Paulo on Tuesday morning, as streets were emptied and the center of South America’s largest city was filled with tear gas and smoke from at least one torched city bus.

Large-scale demonstrations and street conflicts have taken place periodically across Brazil since June 2013, but had largely subsided since the beginning of the World Cup soccer tournament this June.

Chaos returned on Tuesday, however, after the forced eviction of members of the FLM, or Front to Fight for Housing, one of the many groups living in abandoned buildings in the city’s center. More than 70 people were arrested in the melee.

“All of a sudden this morning, this neighborhood was like something out of a terror film,” said Ylma Calixto, 38, who works across the street from the site of the eviction. “The people living in that building, they had nowhere else to go, and so when the police came, they fought back the way I guess they thought they should.” Continue reading

Brazil: World Cup’s Nationalist Hype Fails to Curb Struggle Against Displacement

Dispatches From Brazil’s World Cup:  Real Estate Frenzy Provokes ‘Psychological Attack’ to Oust Favela Residents
Dave Zirin, The Nation, on June 18, 2014
Graffiti on the walls of Vila Autódromo. On the Brazilian flag, instead of "order and progress", "freedom" is written across the iconic blue globe. June 17, 2014. (Photo by the author)

Graffiti on the walls of Vila Autódromo. On the Brazilian flag, instead of “order and progress”, “freedom” is written across the iconic blue globe. June 17, 2014. (Photo by the author)

 

Before returning to the favela Vila Autódromo for the first time since 2012, I had already been told that the community would not look the same. As a friend said to me, “It will resemble a perfect smile with several teeth knocked out.” Vila Autódromo is situated just yards away from the site of the 2016 Rio Olympic village, and Olympic planners as well as construction interests have long targeted this close-knit community for demolition. Located on an achingly beautiful lake, where glittering new high-rise condominiums have sprouted “seemingly overnight”, the city’s business and political leaders see prime real estate, with pesky favelados in the way of their development dreams.

Despite a fierce resistance to their removal that has stymied the efforts of Olympic planners, I had heard before arriving that 150 of the 500 families living in Vila Autódromo had left. I expected many of their homes, places I had visited, to now be piles of rubble. What I did not expect was the absence of trees. Continue reading

Brazil: No World Cup?

Members of the Landless Workers Movement protest against the money spent on the World Cup near Arena Corinthians, which will host the tournament’s first match in São Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

[The great journalist Eduardo Galeano once wrote, “There are visible and invisible dictators. The power structure of world football is monarchical. It’s the most secret kingdom in the world.”  It is a cultural and economic “kingdom” that, along with Olympics and other mega-capitalist-profit and xenophobic-promotion projects, hijacks national budgets, leaving millions starving in the streets….and rising in rebellion in hundreds of city streets.  Here, David Zirin, the journalist whose career has focused on the politics of sport, the misuse of sport’s popularity, and the history of athlete’s activism, tells what is building up in Brazil with the approach of the FIFA World Cup. — Frontlines ed.]

‘There Will Be No World Cup’: Brazil on the Brink

Dave Zirin, The Nation blog, on May 15, 2014
For people just tuning in, the idea that people in Brazil would be protesting the 2014 World Cup makes about as much sense as New Yorkers’ rebelling against pizza. And yet here we are, less than one month before the start of the Cup, and demonstrations bear the slogan #NãoVaiTerCopa, or “There will be no Cup.”

Protests, strikes and direct actions have been flaring up across the country as the 2014 FIFA World Cup approaches. Most notably, as many as 10,000 people in São Paolo under the banner of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, or MTST, has occupied a major lot next to Arena Corinthians, site of the World Cup’s opening match. They call their occupation “The People’s Cup” and point out that the nearly half a billion dollars that went into building the “FIFA quality stadium” next door could have been used to combat poverty or improve healthcare. The slogan “we want FIFA quality hospitals and schools” still rings out as it did a year ago, when during the Confederation’s Cup, Brazil saw its largest protests in a generation. Now there is an even sharper desperation as the cup approaches. Maria das Dores Cirqueira, 44, a coordinator for the MTST, told the Los Angeles Times, “When the government told us we would host the World Cup, we hoped there would be improvements for us. But they aren’t putting on a Cup for the people, they’re putting on a Cup for the gringos.” Continue reading

Reaching for “World-Class” Glory, the Brazilian State Unleashes a Reign of Terror in the Favelas

[In Brazil, the international promotion of a global sporting event, the FIFA World Cup of 2014, has driven a “sophisticated, cosmetic” PR and brutal policing and counter-insurgency program.   In this article, The Guardian describes the deadly repression of the poor, and  the “charm-the-tourists” propaganda campaign of the Brazilian state. — Frontlines ed.]

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Brazil’s favelas are in big trouble, despite the World Cup marketing push

, theguardian.com, Sunday 18 May 2014
'In Rio de Janeiro, the number of deaths in conflict with the police rose by 69% from 2013 to 2014.'

‘In Rio de Janeiro, the number of deaths in conflict with the police rose by 69% from 2013 to 2014.’ Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

This week, a study by Amnesty International revealed that 80% of Brazilians are afraid of being tortured by their own police force on arrest. In a survey across 21 countries, Brazil was found to be the country where people feel most unsafe in the hands of authorities, almost twice the international average of 44%.

In Rio de Janeiro this fear is very real. Although the media has reported the efforts to pacify favelas across the city, armed violence has once again escalated in the city – weeks before it will receive thousands of football fans for the 2014 World Cup.

Back in 2008 favela residents dreamed of a life without violence as the government unveiled a project to build Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) in which policemen would be stationed to take back territory controlled by drug gangs for decades. Today the failures of this programme are starting to show – and a corrupt and violent police force is the main cause. Continue reading

“Housing Not Stadiums” protest in Brazil

[Urban reform movement in Brazil reflects the massive popular anger at the mis-allocation of the country’s resources, shown in the displacements of peoples and the huge stadium construction projects for the World Cup championships to be held in Brazil in June. — Frontlines ed.]

Wave of anti-government protests begins in Brazil

May 15, 2014
Associated Press

SAO PAULO (AP) — Protesters began a wave of demonstrations around Brazil on Thursday, burning tires and blocking highways to draw attention to housing and education needs before next month’s World Cup.

In Sao Paulo, the country’s biggest city, demonstrators blocked two key roads into the city and hundreds protested near one of the stadiums built for soccer’s premier tournament. Continue reading

Massive Indigenous Rights Movement Launches Across Brazil

Making History: Brazil's National Indigenous Mobilization

Massive Indigenous Rights Movement Launches Across Brazil

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Written by Amazon Watch
Thursday, 03 October 2013 07:06
Protests Sweep Brazil Demanding End to Attack on Indigenous Rights. Source: Amazon WatchBrasilia, Brazil – Hundreds of indigenous peoples representing Brazil’s native communities converged on government buildings in the nation’s capital yesterday to decry unprecedented and growing attacks on their constitutional rights and territories. The historic mobilization coincides with the 25th anniversary of the founding of Brazil’s constitution with its groundbreaking affirmation of indigenous rights and aims to preserve these rights in the face of powerful economic interests behind a spate of pending laws seeking access to resources on native territories.

 

Brazil’s Articulation of Indigenous People’s (APIB) called the mobilizations – staged simultaneously in various cities across the country such as São Paulo, Belém, Rio Branco – to protest the attack against territorial rights of native peoples. Emanating from the Brazilian government and backed by a powerful congressional bloc representing agribusiness known as the bancada ruralista as well as large mining and energy interests, a series of new proposed laws seek to undermine Article 231 of the Brazilian Constitution, which assures the indigenous right to an exclusive and permanent usufruct to resources on their ancestral territories. Continue reading