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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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Cultural categories by media type: The media specificity of landless cultural expression.

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 Culture: The landless woman

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Pedro Tierra


All us women

We are the blood called upon from the rivers that feed the Continent.
We are the womb that bears the sons of men and their ferocity.
We are moulded in mud and its glow: the substance of life.
We are the ones that lost our sons like sharp scream devoured by the shadow of silence.
We are the ones that watch over the laughter of sleeplessness.
We are the mother of copper and ashes of indigenous peoples exterminated, surviving.
We are the ones searching out phantoms through the dust of America only to find bones.
We are the ones that sought with so much love and with such fury, teeth clenched,
And hoping against hope that sometimes might we find them, come alive again, like Abel, in Baixo Araguaia(1).
We are the shout that strikes against the closed windows of palaces.
We are the hand touching the mantle of justice that always escapes us like a mirage.
With what name shall we christen our anguish?
Pureza, Isabel, Marta, Maria, Margarida, Roseli, Fátima, Adelaide…
Who one day asked the sources of pain?
We carry stones like penitents and we learn with eyes that those born of sorrow weep in rivers of tears:
Clear cords of crystal and cuts.
We are not only women who cry, we are fertile.
We are the women who'll give birth to life, when death is reaching you.
We are the multipliers of struggle just as the land is the multiplier of the planted enclosure.
We are the sowing and the harvest.
We are the root of hope.

1 Editor's note: Baixo Araguaia: a region near the source of the Araguaia River, which goes through most of the indigenous lands of the country, where the Araguaia Guerrilla War took place. In 1969, a group of guerrillas of the PC do B, a Maoist group, began to farm and establish relations with the peasants of the region, teaching them the need to fight against the landowners and the government. The seventy guerillas, attacked by government troops, held out in the bush for more than two years, but were defeated by an expedition of 6000 soldiers in 1975 (Mirossawa, 2001:101). By order of the army, their bodies were burned so that nothing would remain of the war in history. Two guerrillas managed to escape, but one leader who survived was later murdered in what became known as the A Chacina da Lapa (The Lapa Massacre). The other survivor is currently a federal representative for the Labour Party.

Poems : Edited by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Bernard McGuirk.


November 2002

Resource ID:


Anthology of poems
A first-hand selection, unpublished in Brazil and elsewhere. A militant poetics; the social and political importance of the poet-singer (cantador), the construction of a canon of exclusion; the landless woman; the theme of death as life's horizon; the pedagogic project.
Else R P Vieira

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