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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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Studies, statements & references -> Statements by Intellectuals and Artists 13 resources (Compiled by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Bernard McGuirk.)

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Antonio Candido
(A writer, sociologist and cultural theorist. A renowned literary critic and foremost historian of Brazilian Literature. He inspired an important strain of socio-criticism in Brazil. Translated by Bernard McGuirk.)


Martyrdom and Redemption
(Martyrdom of man and of the land in Euclides da Cunha’s Os sertões/Rebellion in the Backlands is reread today as man's economic/social and the land's ecological/economic martyrdom. The MST redefines the relationship between man and land.)

At times I think about the question of how today, a hundred years later, the classic finale of the first part of Os Sertões/Rebellion in the Backlands, by Euclides da Cunha, might be read:

There are the martyrdom of man, and the reflex of a greater, broader, torture, embracing the general economy of Life. The time-immemorial martyrdom of the land is born.

Nowadays the martyrdom of the land is not only the drought of the Northeast, it is the predatory devastation of the whole country and it is the subordination of possession of the soil to the uncontrolled thirst for profit. If that thirst attacks the integrity of nature, the fount of life, it prevents the rural worker from attaining the conditions necessary to keep his family in dignity and to produce for the market in a manner that will adequately repay him. Today, the martyrdom of rural man is the exploitation that suffocates him.

As a consequence, both the martyrdom of the land (ecological and economic) and the martyrdom of man (economic and social) can only be remedied through a re-definition of the relationship between man and land, the real objective of the MST. Thus, it is an initiative for human redemption and a promise of a new era, in which rural man might carry out fully and efficiently the great role that befits him in his social and economic life, because the toils of labour are an essential component of every healthy economy in our country. For having undertaken this great struggle with unselfishness, bravery and success the MST merits the total support and gratitude of all. Within the movement beats the heart of Brazil.


November 2002

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