Saludos from Brazil: MST Conference

I had the most amazing experience at the MST Conference in early-mid June. We arrived in Brazil, after a long trip from Santa Cruz to Sao Paulo and then a bus from Sao Paolo to Brasilia. However, the day we arrived the energy was amazing…there were 20,000 Sem Terras (MST-Brazil members) organized in a huge gymnasium – sort of like a coliseum, all dressed in RED. The music, the energy, and the passion were so overwhelming. The Brasilian MST movement is so organized – every state was represented, they had their communities with them. The food was brought all the way from their farms to Brasilia (rice, corn, meat, fish, couscous), and they set up tents with collective kitchens. This guaranteed that every single person at the conference was fed. Meals are a wonderful celebration of community — we gather five or six at a table, eat from one anotherś plates, talk, laugh, and share experiences from distinct parts of the world.

So it was 5 days of intense political conversation about US forms of imperialism, and the situations in Venezuela and Cuba, Haiti, South Africa. We were with an International Delegation — I have met such incredible organizers from Cuba and Nicaragua, Honduras, Indonesia, and S. Africa. We had events from 8 a.m. until late at night. And often we stayed up till 3 or 4 talking in our rooms. Everything was collective — 7 women in a room — we ate together, slept together, etc. There is something about this form of living that is so wonderful. 

The highlight of the conference was the HUGE MARCH: imagine 20,000 people marching in 3 highly organized lines from this gymnasium to the center of Brasilia, the heart of Brazil’s government. It was amazing: construction workers were shouting from the tops of buildings, “We are with you, companeros!” Then, a school bus passed by and the kids screamed out of the window, “Because of you, Sem Terra, we will live better!” We stopped traffic. There were Argentinians leading chants and cheers regarding the importance of land reform. We passed the US embassy, rested 10 coffins at the steps symbolizing the death of people all over the world. The US embassy was full of security, and we barely got passed the gates. There were tons of policemen on horses. It was really incredible. Then, we arrived at the senate and gathered in the main plaza. As we were approaching the plaza, all you saw were seas of people in red. And MST left a proposal for land reform with Lula.

We just got back from the conference this morning. We are now living in the MST headquarters, which is this really interesting space. It is a collective dormitory, 20 bunk beds for women and 20 for men. There is a woman who cooks for the entire house, feijoida. There are young people all over working, learning, studying — and there is this great computer lab. I am going to an MST settlement later this week, and then back to Bolivia. Really wishing you were here to experience this…to feel the passion and the energy.

Hope you are well,


2 comments so far

  1. […] For more information about MST, visit The Friends of MST website (also visit the website of MST Brazil which frequently posts news and updates about MST). Niki attended the international Sin Tierras (Sem Terras in Portugese) conference in Brasil in June 2007… read her blog post below. […]

  2. Gary Papenhagen on

    I could have used more details about what all was so impressive to Niki.

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