Pagina Principal  

English Report

More than two years later, 75% of the National Plan for Agrarian Reform has not been implemented. Fewer than 100,000 families have actually been settled, when the Plan established a goal of distributing land to 400,000 families.

False Promises of Agrarian Reform

João Pedro Stedile[1]

Once more, our expectation that the government would implement agrarian reform did not happen. During the 2002 presidential elections, most of the rural social movements worked to elect president Lula.  There was a conviction that the victory of president Lula would finally create the conditions to implement agrarian reform. 

We had come from eight years of neoliberal agriculture, guaranteed by the Cardoso government, which increased the concentration of land ownership.  In this period, farms with more than 1,000 hectares added more than 30 million hectares to their patrimony, beyond other social consequences such as an increase in unemployment, in rural exodus, and in rural poverty. 

Beyond the symbolism of an historic commitment from Lula, there was a formal commitment of government programs, which promised a broad agrarian reform.  The agrarian reform of the Lula government was to be based on a national plan, which would have contributed to the democratization of land ownership and the stability of workers in the countryside.  It would have promoted a new model of rural development, based on food sovereignty, the production of food for the internal market, and precaution in relation to transgenic seeds.  A broad agrarian reform would be fundamental for the government to reach its goal of creating 10 million new jobs in four years.

The National Plan for Agrarian Reform

In 2003, presented a National Plan for Agrarian Reform, with the goal of settling 400,000 landless families in four years, prioritizing families in encampments.  The Plan also included measures to stimulate the creation of rural cooperatives, offering technical assistance, as well as promising the direct purchase of products from the settled families.  The Plan was signed by president Lula on November 21st, 2003, at an event with 5,000 landless people. 

The March to Brasilia

More than two years later, 75% of the National Plan for Agrarian Reform has not been implemented. At present, fewer than 100,000 families have actually been settled. There is no direct purchase of the food produced by settled farmers.  The agreements for technical assistance come drip-by-drip.  So, the Plan is dead. 

The MST, then, decided to organize a march from Goiânia to Brasília. More than 11,000 activists from across Brazil walked 240 kilometers during 17 days.  We arrived in Brasilia on May 17th, 2005, and had meetings with 15 ministers, who created a lot of expectation with their promises. We also met with president Lula, who reiterated his commitment to distribute land to 400,000 families.

He also promised to free up funds for agrarian reform that had been cut by the Minister of Agriculture; to prioritize the settling of families who are living in encampments; to restructure INCRA (the National Institute for Agrarian Reform) in order to improve its role; to free up packages of basic services; to reformulate rural credit; and to adjust the program of BNDES (National Bank of Social Development) for the agro-industry settled farmers.

More than three months have passed, and the government fulfilled barely two of its seven promises. 

[1] João Pedro Stedile is a national coordinator of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) and of Via Campesina Brazil.