“He’s been oppressing us since day one,” Gil claims of Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil’s current far-right president, who is running for re-election. Gil is a member of the Landless Movement (MST). The farmers’ people’s organization has been fighting for a better distribution of farmland for more than 40 years. The movement, the leading producer of organic rice in Latin America, is distributed in almost every state in the country. It has enabled nearly 500,000 landless families to reclaim agricultural land.
>> Presidential election in Brazil: the hope of Lula’s “historical” activists
During Jair Bolsonaro’s mandate, the militants were the subject of threats and repeated attacks. Some were killed. They are strong allies of former President Lula, candidate in the presidential elections, the first round of which takes place on Sunday October 2nd. The leader of a grand left-wing coalition takes the lead in the polls. The MST expects a lot from him. He wants to turn the Bolsonaro page.
It’s 6 a.m. in the bohemian district of Rio, the bars and discos are empty when Gil comes to unload his goods: vegan beetroot bread, onions, cassava. Before that, the 60-year-old landless farmer was a professor of theology for 20 years. He lives on a collective farm two and a half hours from Rio. He denounces the attacks on landless militants, dubbed “terrorists” by Jair Bolsonaro. “He silenced us,” says Gil.
“The terrorist is [Jair Bolsonaro]. Only Lula can help us. I trust him”
Gil, landless farmer
A hope that Marina Dos Santos wants to carry to Congress. She is of rural origin and is running for legislature for the Lula Labor Party in Rio State. His priority: agrarian reform. “In Brazil, only 1% of the population owns more than 46% of the arable land,” explains Marina Dos Santos. This concentration of wealth is one of the causes of hunger and inequality in this country.”
Marina Do Santos, MP for the Labor Party of Lula in the state of Rio, in front of a private university in the middle of an election campaign. (SANDRINE ETOA-ANDEGUE / RADIO FRANCE)
If the candidate of the left is elected, the MST intends to set up popular committees “to help Lula during his four-year term, because the opposition will be tough,” specifies Marina Dos Santos. “We will be guarantors of democracy while keeping a critical eye,” announces the MP, so that the landless, the poor and the workers are a government priority.
Landless farmers support Lula – Report from Rio by Sandrine Etoa-Andegue