Subscribe to EIR Online
This article appeared in the November 10, 1995 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

Explosion nears over
'landless movement'

by Silvia Palacios and Lorenzo Carrasco

Starting in mid-1995, the Landless Movement (MST) of Brazil, controlled by the Workers Party (PT), launched a well-planned and massive campaign of land seizures across the country, just as EIR had warned more than a year ago (see EIR, June 24, 1994, p. 54). The invasions take advantage of the real conditions of injustice and misery suffered not only by hundreds of thousands of peasants, but also by the inhabitants of the slums (favelas) in every Brazilian city; nonetheless, they form a key element in a coordinated plan of continent-wide irregular warfare.

In late July 1995, the MST held its Third National Congress in Brasilia, in which it resolved to directly confront agricultural producers by demanding that the lands of 1,227 producers be handed over for settlements for some 200,000 families. The properties they targeted were on a list of "the leading landowner debtors of the Banco do Brasil." Stated MST leader Fatima Ribero, "Each delegation of the 22 states where the MST operates is studying the areas that are going to be occupied through the end of this year. The areas of the landowners with debts with the Banco do Brasil should be analyzed for occupation."

They also resolved to launch their greatest offensive of land invasions, military-style, to press for the settling of some 60,000 families. Should this occur, it could spark an explosion of rural violence unprecedented in Brazilian history.

The MST seeks to spread this political storm into Brazil's cities, in particular into the volatile favelas. Recently, they have begun to enter these miserable slums, to forge a link between the urban poor and the rural landless. In São Paulo, for example, they are recruiting unemployed, street vendors, servants, etc., presaging the formation of a press-gang army of the most impoverished layers of the population.

What makes the crisis inside Brazil even more serious is the fact that the MST's operations, with their sequel of bloody confrontations with the military police, are being encouraged by the "family cabinet" of President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, which is made up of his wife, sociologist Ruth Cardoso, and representatives of the non-governmental organization (NGO) apparatus, described by President Cardoso as "neo-government organizations."

In the case of President Cardoso, he is a founding member of the Inter-American Dialogue, and was responsible for the acceptance of then-PT president Luís Inacio "Lula" da Silva as a member of the Dialogue. Cardoso also orchestrated the dramatic political strengthening of the MST when, in July 1995, he opted to meet with a delegation of MST leaders who had just concluded their Third National Congress, and who presented him with a list of demands. Just weeks earlier, Cardoso had refused to meet with representatives of the agricultural producers from around the country, who had organized an historic motorcade of more than 1,000 vehicles and several thousand individuals to Brasilia, to protest Cardoso's destructive "Real Plan." The President simply absented himself from the country for those days.

Cardoso agrees to MST demands

Cardoso not only personally received the MST, but he also agreed to all of their main demands, including the replacement of the director of the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) (dubbed "an ally of the latifundists" by the MST) with his own former personal secretary, sociologist Francisco Graziano Neto, a man with blatant links to the MST. Graziano Neto's chief of staff, Paulo Loguercio, was a member of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT, see below), at a time when the commission helped create the MST. Loguercio named as his replacement at the CPT João Pedro Stedile, today the visible head of the MST.

By strengthening the radical groups to the detriment of the producers, President Cardoso is following in the disastrous path of former Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari, who simultaneously enforced a cruel neo-liberal, i.e., free trade, economic austerity program while sponsoring, through his "Solidarity" program (then under the control of his brother Raúl, who is today sitting in a Mexican prison), a variety of neo-communist and outright terrorist groups from which the Zapatista National Liberation Movement would later emerge.

In the first meeting between the new president of INCRA and the MST leadership, on Oct. 23, 1995, the MST leaders declared that their plan for mass land invasions "is not on the agenda for negotiation." Further, one of the main controllers of the movement, Zapatista bishop from San Félix de Araguaia, Don Pedro Casaldaliga, provocatively stated one day before that meeting: "There is war in the countryside. The courage of the MST through its occupations and its resistance is going to more openly provoke the reaction of the latifundists." He added that "the latifundio is perverse, stupid, and archaic. Since the government is not carrying out land reform, the people are doing it. The MST does what it can, under its slogan 'occupy and resist.' "

At the same time that the MST is continuing its invasions, its provocations have reached the extreme of demanding that the government expropriate the "unproductive" lands that the Army holds for training and installations, as a first step in "land reform."

Thus far, the confrontations over land occupations have been between peasants and public defense forces, but what the MST really seeks is to provoke violent confrontations with landowners, which would set the Brazilian countryside on fire. In São Paulo, the landowners of one of the areas targeted for invasion, Ponta de Paranapanema, warned that the government is proving too slow in addressing land matters, and that the region is fast approaching "an anarchy which can only be resolved by federal intervention." At the same time, it is known that some landowners—not just the large ones, but also small and medium-sized ones—are arming themselves.

The country's producers are facing a true pincers operation. On the one side, they suffer from usury and economic depression; on the other, from the violent challenges of radical groups such as the MST. Further, the MST has now allied itself directly with the usurious banks, demanding that the government expropriate land belonging to the Banco do Brasil's agricultural debtors—land which would then be handed over to the MST!

Real control held by the PT

The MST, including its dissident factions, is controlled by the leadership of the PT, and its current offensive is coordinated directly by the leadership of the theology of liberation crowd, which is doing everything it can to radicalize the situation in the countryside. (For a more thorough discussion of the philosophical roots of liberation theology see "Ruiz's Ideological Support Networks in Germany," EIR, March 31, 1995, p. 31.)

Thus, Lula declared in an Oct. 4, 1995 meeting that the MST should continue its land invasions and refuse any offers of a truce. He reminded listeners that during the Presidency of José Sarney (1985-90), "The landless accepted a truce and the result was no settlements."

On Sept. 7, Brazilian independence day, in Aparecida del Norte (shrine of the patron saint of Brazil), Bishop Angelico Sandalo—theologian of liberation and close associate of Cardinal Evaristo Arns, who has given his fullest support to the MST and to the PT (see PT profile)—held a "mass of the excluded," attended by 40,000 workers organized by the MST-PT.

The PT sees the MST as "the best organized people's movement in the country," according to Frei Betto, director of the São Paulo Forum's magazine and one of the key advisers to the MST and PT leaderships. The majority of MST state and national leaders are PT cadre, according to the Rio Grande do Sul daily Zero Hora.

The MST is a product of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), the bastion of liberation theology extremists within the country's Catholic Church. The CPT actively supported the two presidential campaigns of PT candidate "Lula" da Silva, who used it as his political arm. Although that commission cannot be directly linked to the conflicts, by virtue of being an official body of the national bishops conference (CNBB), it serves to give voice to several liberationist bishops. Especially in the north, northeast, and in the center-west of the country, the MST shares with the CPT the organization of settlements.

The links of the MST with the theology of liberation is so evident and organic that the main MST offices in São Paulo operate out of a place granted by the São Paulo diocese, ruled by Cardinal Evaristo Arns.

To understand the true danger the MST represents, it is necessary to point out its links, through the CPT, with Brazil's international enemies, in particular with the world ecological fascists controlled by the British monarchy, one of whose objectives is to exercise supranational control over the strategic Amazon region.

In 1991, the British Right Livelihood Foundation (RLF) granted an "alternative Nobel prize" to the CPT, which in turn is affiliated to the pro-terrorist Pax Christi NGO, based in Belgium. The RLF is part of the Gaia Foundation, created to spread the theology of the New Age and premised on the pagan beliefs in Mother Earth, or Gaia.

The CPT also maintains relations with the Catholic Institute for International Relations (CIIR) of London, which coordinates theology of liberation operations globally. Its leaders acknowledge that their philosophical models are the theologians of liberation Gustavo Gutiérrez of Peru, and Leonardo Boff and Cardinal Evaristo Arns of Brazil. Britain's Royal Institute of International Affairs identifies the CIIR as a key instrument of British foreign policy influence within Catholic Ibero-America.

London Cardinal Basil Hume also answers to this CIIR network. In 1992, Hume gave to the CPT's and MST's international mouthpiece Father Ricardo Rezende the medal of the Anti-Slavery International (ASI), which, under cover of fighting modern forms of slavery, promotes supranational interventions against nation-states.

Founded in 1787, the ASI describes itself as "the oldest human rights organization," and includes some of the most renowned families of the British oligarchy, such as Wilberforces and Buxtons. Lord Buxton today is one of the vice presidents of the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) of Prince Philip, the organization which, through the George Bush Presidency in the United States, unleashed its fury against Brazilian sovereignty in an attempt to seize the Brazilian Amazon.

This international network founded the so-called Brazil Network, headquartered in London and in Washington, to coordinate the efforts of the main NGOs, including Amnesty International, Survival International, Oxfam, WWF, and Greenpeace, which are all committed to limiting Brazilian sovereignty by using the pretext of ecological, indigenist, human rights, and now agrarian reform causes.

The Brazilian subsidiary of Brazil Network is the Institute of Socio-economic studies (INESC), which lobbies inside the Brazilian Congress in favor of ecology, human rights, and feminism. It is led by PT politician Maria José Jaime, a former terrorist who received her political and military training in China in 1969, when she was an activist in the group Popular Action (AP). She became a central committee member of the Maoist guerrilla movement in 1972. INESC is the MST's major propaganda support apparatus, and has received substantial financing from Canadian organizations such as the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and Canadian Catholic Development and Peace (CCDP). Anthropologist José Carlos Libanio, director of INESC's indigenous affairs, was also adviser to the Canadian embassy in Brasilia and of CIDA. In 1988, Libanio accompanied a group headed by former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau to the Amazon, including a visit to the future Yanomami Indian reserve. One of the members of the group was Sen. Leo Kolber, linked to the Bronfman family.

The INESC is responsible for spreading slanders against EIR and its founder Lyndon LaRouche in the Brazilian Congress.

Back to top