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The Sights and Voices of Dispossession: The Fight for the Land and the Emerging Culture of the MST (The Movement of the Landless Rural Workers of Brazil)


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Emerging culture by media type -> Lyrics 88 resources (Edited by Else R P Vieira)

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Culture: Environmental awareness


Lyrics: Eduardo Dias
(Translated by Bernard McGuirk)


The Woodland Gods

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Voices of the woodland gods
Anger of the savage angels
With but one voice shall call
Maçaranduba (1), felled
Açaizeiro (2), felled
And the chain-saw man sets fire to all
Macacaúba(3), felled
Samaumeira(4), felled
Blood spilt at the hands of values that appal
Tikuna, Kaiapó, Kamayurá(5) tribes
Slings(6) and arrows on the invader rain
Tikuna, Kaiapó, Kamayurá tribes
Slings and arrows on the invader rain

Country folk in fury, fishermen in pain
In a cry for vengeance shall I live
Off the sap that from the earth shall rise
Quintino(7) will be here
Batista(8) will be here
Fonteles(9), Expeditos(10) will spring up again
And along with Angelim(11)
Chico Mendes of Xapuri
The angels soon will be
Gods and demons on every plot
With their power to say no, in every tree

1 Editor's note: Maçaranduba: tree native to Brazil, which has a red wood with a dark brown hue that is very useful in cabinet-making.

2 Editor's note: Açaizeiro: the açaí is a palm from the Amazon region found on the banks of rivers and swampy lands.

3 Editor's note: Macacaúba: a tree from the Amazon region, whose wood is used in expensive furniture.

4 Editor's note: Samaumeira: a tree with large trunk and attractive flowers.

5 Editor's note: Tikuna, Kaiapó, Kamayurá: indigenous peoples. The Tikuna are found in the Amazon region; The Kaiapó, today greatly reduced, live along the banks of the Xingu River, in the state of Mato Grosso and in the south of the state of Pará; the Kamayurá are of the Tupi-Guarani linguistic group and live in the state of Mato Grosso, in the south of the Xingu Indigenous Reserve.

6 Editor's note: Borduna/Cudgel: the Portuguese term in the text refers to an indigenous weapon for attack, defence, and hunting, which is long and made of hard wood (Dicionário Houaiss da Língua Portuguesa, Rio de Janeiro: Editora Objetiva, 2001). Among the country people of the Araguaia River, borduna is the indigenous cudgel (Dicionário Aurélio Eletrônico).

7 Editor's note: Quintino: Quintino Lira was a peasant leader in the northeast of Pará, murdered in September, 1984, by the landowners of the region. Possessed of a strong personality, he rebelled when his land was taken. He became famous for his escapes from the police and became a legend in the region.

8 Editor's note: Batista: João Batista was a lawyer who fought to defend the working-class, and a representative of the Communist Party of Brazil. He was murdered in front of his wife and children.

9 Editor's note: Fonteles: the name by which Paulo Fonteles is known in the region, a lawyer and representative of the Communist Party of Brazil, also murdered.

10 Editor's note: Expeditos: Expedito Ribeiro e Souza was a poet, farmworker, and president of the Union of Rural Workers in the south and southeast of Pará. He was the seventh person murdered at Rio Maria owing to his leadership and connection with the rural union movement. After his death, the Comitê Rio Maria (Rio Maria Committee) was founded, in 1991, by Father Ricardo Rezende. It is an international solidarity network that aims at ending the murders of farmworkers and union-members by gunmen under contract to the large landowners in the south of Pará ( The plural form of his name, Expeditos, indicates that he is the representative of a great number of rural leaders murdered in the region.

11 Editor's note: Angelim: Third Cabano President, at 21 years of age, on the occasion of which the Movement entered its most radical phase. Cabano, in this context, refers to the Republic of Cabanos, proclaimed during the third phase of the Cabanagem, a revolution (1833-36) in the province of Grão Pará, which corresponds today to the states of Pará and Amazonas. The name comes from cabana (hut, cabin), a poor dwelling built on stakes. Initially an expression of the dissatisfaction of the large landowners and local politicians against the central power of Rio de Janeiro, it changed its meaning after a revolt of the mixed and indigenous populations, who lived in terrible conditions. The fighting resulted in 40,000 victims (Enciclopédia Delta Universal).

This song is from the CD A song for peace

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November 2002

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Compiled by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Thomas Burns.

Mendes, Chico
'Francisco Neves Mendes Filho (1944-88), Chico Mendes, was union leader and president of the Union of Rural Workers of Xapuri, Acre, founder of the PT and the CUT in Acre, murdered by farmers connected to the UDR' (Fernandes, Bernardo Man├žano e Stedile, Jo├úo Pedro. Brava gente: a trajet├│ria do MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil. S├úo Paulo: Editora Funda├ž├úo Perseu Abramo, 1999, p. 68, n. 5). 

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