The Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST) organizes a week of events in Caracas, to celebrate April 17th, which marks the International Day of Peasant Struggle. The date remembers the Eldorado do Carajás massacre, which took place 28 years ago and the activities that began on Monday (15), end this Wednesday (17).

The week is part of the coordination between the MST brigade in Venezuela and popular movements in the country. The event will take place at the El Panal 2021 commune, one of the first comunera formations in Venezuela – its own type of social and political organization based on urban neighborhoods and rural communities created under Hugo Chávez’s government in 2010. The activities were also attended by members of União Comunera, an organization that has the greatest participation and reach among Venezuelan communes.

According to the coordinator of the MST brigade in Venezuela, Simone Magalhães, the MST’s articulation helps to integrate and build an internationalist unit.

“It is very important to bring together popular movements around the date that symbolizes the peasant struggle around the world, as it is about recognizing the right to land to plant food, life and dignity as a current and current agenda. Furthermore, the right to a piece of land to grow food is urgently needed when the whole world is experiencing the drama of hunger, food insecurity and the climate crisis,” he stated.

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The date is marked globally as the International Day of Peasant Struggle because of the Eldorado do Carajás massacre, which occurred in 1996. At the time, around 1,500 people were camped on the S curve, in Eldorado do Carajás , southeast of Pará, in protest. The objective was to march to the capital Belém and achieve the expropriation of the Macaxeira farm, occupied by 3,500 landless families.

The Military Police ambushed the protesters. Around 155 military police officers were involved in the massacre that left 21 peasants dead – 19 at the scene of the attack, and two others who died in hospital.

For Simone Magalhães, the date demonstrates the “level of violence that States can undertake to defend their agrarian elites” and indicates the degree of importance of the articulation of movements in Latin America.

“This type of violence is present in the history of Latin America, but the Eldorado do Carajás massacre also reveals to Brazil and our continent the strength of the people’s resistance, our ability to overcome pain and violence and continue to build future”, he stated.

Activities in Caracas

The first day was called “Journey of Agitation” and began with the painting of murals in the so-called Esquina dos Taxistas, at the entrance to the El Panal 2021 commune, in the 23 de Janeiro neighborhood. Soon after, the film was shown Floor, by Camila Freitas. The documentary shows the MST’s action at Usina Santa Helena, in Goiás and the importance of the movement’s actions in people’s lives for a dignified life.

According to Venezuelan journalist Thierry Deronne, the film differs from conventional documentary production by exploring in a sensitive and participatory way the organization and activities of the movement in Brazil.

“The director has a very different role: she goes to the place, participates in the process and, in doing so, manages to convey what the struggle for land is. She doesn’t do what the big newspapers do, when they arrive, they take out some quotation marks [fazem entrevistas] and leave without seeing the result of that. With this, it is possible to have a more complete dimension of the struggle for land in Brazil”, says the journalist.

The film was shown at the 69th Berlin Film Festival in 2019.

The second day was called “People’s Training and Solidarity Day” and had a panel discussion. Participants spoke about the history of the MST, the movement’s actions today and the importance of international articulation. The group also addressed geopolitical issues, with the debate on the position of militancy around Palestine.

The end of the week of activities will be this Wednesday (17th), on the International Day of Peasant Struggle. A meeting of MST friends will be held with a communal and peasant production fair. The day ends with a political event at the Kley Gomez court, in the El Panal 2021 commune.

Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho


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