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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 -> Glossary 77 resources (Compiled by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Thomas Burns.)

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Peasant Leagues

'Peasant movement that began in mid-1954 in the Galiléia Mill, in Vitória de Santo Antão, Pernambuco, where 140 families worked to produce manioc, fruit, vegetables, and cotton in small lots, for which they were paid an annual rent. Among its founders were José dos Prazeres, and from it emerged leaders such as Francisco Julião, Clodomir de Moraes, João Pedro Teixeira, and Elizabeth Teixeira. Threatened with eviction, they organized and founded, in 1955, the Pernambuco Society of Planters and Stockraisers, later known as the Peasant League, creating a mutual aid association whose objectives were: to found an elementary school; to organize a funeral fund for the burial of children; to obtain aid in acquiring agricultural supplies (seeds, etc.). In 1959, the mill was disappropriated. Despite the violence of the landowners, the Leagues grew rapidly. Around 1960, there were 35 thousand members in Pernambuco and 70 thousand all over the northeast. Many leaders fell defending the "Agrarian Reform by Law or by Force", slogan of those Peasant Leagues that existed up to 1964, when they were made illegal and persecuted. They basically functioned in the northeastern states, with their greatest strength in Pernambuco, Paraíba, and Alagoas' (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, 1999, p. 16, n. 3 and Calendário Histórico dos Trabalhadores. São Paulo: MST, Setor de Educação. 3a. edição, 1999, p. 33). See See JULIÃO, FRANCISCO and TEIXIEIRA, JOÃO PEDRO


November 2002

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