Workers Online
Workers Online
Workers Online
  Issue No 109 Official Organ of LaborNet 31 August 2001  

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Politics

Chatting with Enemies of the State


Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEU´s Phil Davey drops in for a chat.

 
 

On the day I drop in on the Sao Paulo office of Brazils landless peasants movement, the MST, a national blockade of highways is taking place. Rural poor are taking blockading action at dozens of points around this huge nation to protest a newly announced 56% cut in aid for small farmers.

The atmosphere at head office though is calm. As I sit down to talk with MSTs International officer Dulcinea, I wonder what it would take to provoke the sort of hysterical atmosphere I would have thought more comensurate with the momentous events of the day.

The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra (MST) is used to this sort of militant direct action though. Boasting an active membership that runs into the millions, the MST has dealt as many blows against the corrupt Brazilian state as it has taken, although the cost in lives has been high.

Hundreds have died in Police and Army massacres of MST communities, yet their achievements are extraordinary. Land repossesed from absentee landholders sufficient to resettle 200 thousand landless families!

Dulcinea and I discuss MSTs new status as an official enemy of the state.

In the last few weeks the MST has lost its NGO (and tax deductability) status and it has been revealed that the Brazilian Federal Government has put them on the official "enemies of the state" list, alongside organised crime and narco-trafficers.

What has brought this on? According to Dulcinea the 16 year old MST is now really hitting its straps, moving from a social movement concerned exclusively with land redistribution and pouring huge energy into building a broad front of progressive organisations with the potential to transform Brazil.

This is taking the shape of joint actions with Brazils Union Movement that mobilise literally hundreds of thousands at a time, alliances with small farmers, with feminist organisations, with the millions forcibly relocated for hydro-electric projects. MST are developing relationships with urban movements like the Greens over issues like genetically modified food.

The powers must be nervous indeed at such significant new developments.

What about a systematic push into the political arena? Dulcinea says their are no moves to form a political party- in fact MST is critical of many of Brazils political parties because they have no mass base. While MST endorses Brazils left alliance of parties (basically the PT-Workers Party and Communist Party) they will not run candidates for election.

We talk internationalism. Dulcinea outlines MST plans to bring dozens of East Timorese youth over to Brazil for several years training in Agriculture. We talk about the close links between MST and similar social movements in Africa.

We also discuss plans to bring someone from MST to Australia for a speaking tour.

Workers Online readers should get along to hear more about the MST if such a tour can be arranged. They are amazing.


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*   Issue 109 contents

In this issue
Features
*  Interview: Union Power
Electrical Trades Union state secretary Bernie Riordan surveys the union movement's troubled relationship with Labor.
*
*  International: Spreading the Word
Veronica Apap profiles Kamal Fadel and the battle he is fighting for the independence of his homeland of West Sahara.
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*  E-Change: Training for a Wired Workforce
Education is the entry point into the new economy; but the system still reflects an industrial age view of the world.
*
*  Unions: AWU Defends Millennium Train Workers
Mark Hearn looks at how a group of Newcastle workers are setting a new standard in the railways.
*
*  Politics: Chatting with Enemies of the State
Brazils MST is the largest and most radical social movement in the Americas. The CFMEU´s Phil Davey drops in for a chat.
*
*  History: Struggle and Inspiration
Rowan Cahill argues that it is only through understanding history that we can make sense of the present plight of workers.
*
*  Technology: A World Without Microsoft
Heather Sharp argues that all technologies involve political choices and moral values. Computer software is no exception, and it is Bill Gates' choices that dominate.
*
*  Review: Let There Be Rock
Kid Rock and Beer Bong, Australia’s Oldest Rock Fans review the week’s music and political events from the safety of the bar stool.
*
*  Satire: Tampa refugees ask to go home: "It's less inhumane than Australia"
The 460 asylum seekers on board the Tampa freight vessel have demanded to be taken back to their oppressive homelands, which they now realise aren’t nearly as hostile as Australia.
*

News
»  The Meaning of Working Life – The Answer is 7.1!
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»  Unions Stand Up for National Soul
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»  MUA Salvages Some Pride
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»  Common Law Report Plea – Make It Public
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»  Maintenance Contract 'Could Put Lives at Risk'
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»  Tax Office's GST Scam - 10 Per Cent Off!
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»  Della Moves on Pay Slip Concerns
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»  Authorities Scotch Bra-Burning
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»  Manusafe Decision Faces Appeal
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»  Orange Finally Saved from Closure
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»  Award Win For Telco Workers
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»  Abbott Clears Way for Lower Wages
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»  SDA Defeats 'Obscene' Westfield Parking Fees
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»  Labor Calls On Abbott To Abide By Convention
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»  Nurses Highlight Staff Shortages
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»  Keystone Cops At Wonderland Protest
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»  Call for Change in Award Increases
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»  Green Tin Box Values Gone At Commonwealth
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»  Dance for Independence
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»  Get Ready to Wobble
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»  Activist Notebook
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»  STOP PRESS: ITF says PM Tampa action illegal
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Columns
»  The Soapbox
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»  The Locker Room
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»  Trades Hall
*
»  Tool Shed
*

Letters to the editor
»  Unite Against Racism
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»  WorkCover Impact
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»  Improving the Debate
*
»  Botsman's Satire
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»  MUA - Take a Bow!
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»  Economic Predators
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»  Email and the Waterfront Dispuite
*

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