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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 categories -> History: Marches, defining moments, congresses 48 resources (Cultural categories devised by & © Else R P Vieira)

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Children's compositions


Rosane de Souza
(14 years old, seventh grade, 25 de Maio State School, Chico Mendes Settlement, Fraiburgo, state of Santa Catarina.) Reproduced with the permission of the MST São Paulo


Story of a Landless Child
(Child moves from the encampments. Now in the settlements, she develops a sense of dignity and the knowledge to fight for rights. Struggle against hunger and poverty.)

Fifteen years ago, a lot of people began a beautiful story, seeking dignity, against hunger and poverty, women became mothers, I was born. This is my story:

There was a funny house
Made of plastic sheeting, not of boards
This little house is called a hut
And is lived in by the landless.

Whoever has a house in the settlement
Lived first in the encampment,
Today has a garden for sustenance
Because it produces their food.

I am a child and I want a school
To learn and play ball there.
I am a Little Landless and know how to struggle
I want the right to go to school.

In my school I will learn
To tell stories about my people
Sow the seeds of tomorrow
And reap them as well.

I am a colona, I am a child
I have pride and hope
That everyone will be healthy,
Will care for life and nature,
Care for life and care for the land,
Because the land is our wealth …

Happy Anniversary MST!

Children's compositions : Organized by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Thomas Burns.


November 2002

Resource ID:



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

‘Term widely used in the south of the country as a synonym for small farmer. It comes from the first peasants who arrived as immigrants from Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. Each immigrant peasant received from the government an area of land corresponding to 25 hectares, which was called a "colony", for which reason its occupant came to be called colono (colonist). In the state of São Paulo, colono was a sociological designation for the social relation established in the coffee-plantations between the large owners and the immigrant peasants. The colonato was a form of partnership in which the immigrant peasant received a certain number of rows of coffee to take care of. In exchange, he received from the boss a house and the authorization to cultivate for his own use a small parcel of land’ (Fernandes, Bernardo Mançano e Stedile, João Pedro. Brava gente: a trajetória do MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil. São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, p. 48, n. 23). 

Life Projects: The Brazil we want.
The children’s texts included here come from a collection of prize-winning essays of the National Contest for Essays and Drawings organized by the MST Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra [Movement of the Landless Rural Workers], in 1998, when the Movement was fifteen years old. The contest included elementary schools of the encampments and settlements all over Brazil.

The winning essays were published in an anthology titled Desenhando o Brasil [Drawing Brazil], organized by Alípio Freire, Silvana Panzoldo and Emílio Alonso (São Paulo: Editora Lidador, 1999). The data on the authors were obtained from the same anthology. All the essays originally had the general title "The Brazil We Want." The specific sub-titles added were derived from the texts of each author. The texts are here republished with the authorization of the MST of São Paulo.

Else R. P. Vieira. Translated by Thomas L. Burns

See also: The compositions and poems of the little landless: history under revision

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