Occupy, Resist, Produce
Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) is one of Latin America’s largest social movements, with roughly 1.5 million members. For decades the MST has operated under their slogan “Occupy, Resist, Produce” to settle landless farmers on unused land in Brazil, where roughly 3% of the population owns over 2/3 of the vast country’s arable land.
The following is a brief overview of the history, tactics and vision of the MST.
In the early hours of the morning on October 29, 1985, 2,500 landless families arrived in trucks, buses, and motorcycles to occupy Fazenda Annoni, a roughly 23,000-acre plot of land in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The families were forced to occupy the land out of desperation. For many of these activists, the alternative was grueling, slavery-like labor on large estates, or crushing poverty in city slums. Darci Bonato, a participant in the occupation, recalled that the families had only what they could carry on their backs with them to start their new lives.