“It will be very difficult to advance structural changes without the support of the masses”. Collaborative interview with João Pedro Stédile (MST)

João Pedro Stédile, leader of the Landless Rural Workers Movement of Brazil (MST), gave an extensive collaborative interview with the Forum of Communication for the Integration of Our America (FCINA) on Wednesday, in which he addressed the situation of popular movements in that country; the third government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva; the advance of the extreme right in the continent and the world; the initiatives for integration and alliance of the working class in the countryside and the city; the crisis of capitalism; and the role of the United States in the year that marks the bicentenary of the Monroe Doctrine.


Stédile is the leader of the world’s largest landless workers’ movement. The MST, whose embryos date back to the struggle for land in the 1970s, was founded in 1984 during the 1st National Meeting in Cascavel, in the southern state of Paraná, with the aim of fighting for land, agrarian reform and social change in Brazil. “We want to be producers of food, culture and knowledge. We want to be builders of a socially just, democratic country, with equality and in harmony with nature”, they proclaimed. Today, the movement is organised in 24 states in the country’s five regions. More than half a million people have already conquered their territory through the organisation.

Here are some of the most important concepts expressed in the interview.

Crisis of Capitalism and democracy

“We are in a quadrant of history of a structural crisis of the capitalist mode of production that affects the entire West, capitalism is in a serious economic crisis because it can no longer produce the necessary goods for the population, although the capitalists are becoming billionaires. There is a political crisis because the bourgeois state is not interested in democracy, transnationalised finance capital is not interested in democracy, that is why they have financed coups, promoted fascist groups, and financed the extreme right. There is also a very serious environmental crisis in all countries, and capital has operated as an offensive on the goods of nature that should belong to everyone, but they try to privately appropriate nature. In Brazil, we have had four anti-democratic coups in the last six years, in this period we have reached 70 million workers outside the productive structure”.

Lula government and the extreme right

“We know that this is a coalition government, a broad front, but we are still trying to put pressure on him to comply with the minimum programme, the emergency plan that he committed himself to in the campaign: to fight hunger by distributing food; to build the necessary housing; and to adopt an economic plan that will lead us to reindustrialisation and food production based on peasant family farming. But the fascist right, which lost the elections, embedded itself in parliament, which is a right-wing trench. The left has only 130 guaranteed deputies out of 513. That is why, from that tribune, the right imposed a Commission of Inquiry to accuse the MST of crimes for the land seizures, but the land seizures are not a crime, they are a right of the people. That is why Lula will have difficulties in advancing his policies and it will be very difficult to advance structural changes without the support of the masses”.

200 years of the Monroe Doctrine and the role of the USA.

“For 200 years they have treated us as a colony, they only want our raw materials, commodities, our markets, to exploit us with the dollar, and with those green papers, they buy governments, factories. They buy everything in Latin America, plundering our wealth and our work. Lula is consciously making bilateral relations, raising his voice against the dollar, which is the centre of exploitation of our people, to start using our currencies. Lula is requesting to build peace, but the United States wants wars to sell its main merchandise, which is the war industry. The problems of our Latin American countries cannot be solved in isolation, but by recovering the thoughts of the classics, such as José Martí, Hugo Chávez, and Fidel Castro, who confronted the Monroe theory. Lula stresses that Latin American problems will only be solved if we build regional integration”.

The situation of social movements

“Internationalism is our principle, it is a necessity, either we come together as a working class or we will not win. The MST is heir to that political will that we learned with the Cuban Revolution, we learned that solidarity is a principle, not charity, it is a fundamental political way of acting, there is no way to build a more developed human civilisation. Without defeating financial capitalism, without defeating the empire, we will not achieve change and for that we need a long period of class struggle that goes beyond a period of one government: Most of the left forces that have come to power do not understand the times we live in, these are times of change, they are not times of accommodation or conciliation. And that takes time. What is the time? The historic time will not be given by governments, although we need to elect them. It will be given by mass mobilisation. Nor does it depend on the decision of the leaders of the coordinating bodies of the trade union centres or the left parties. The masses are sometimes slow to realise what is happening.”

Initiative with Pepe Mujica

“In the ambit of popular integration, which involves ALBA Movimientos, CLOC-Via Campesina, left collectives, Movimiento de Participación Popular (MPP) and the TUCA (Trade Union Confederation of the Americas) we have planned with Pepe Mujica a kind of aula magna `Thinking the future’, taking advantage of his thinking and ideas, and that is why we are calling on you to attend on 23 June in the form of a continental network so that he can tell us what the dilemmas of humanity are in that quadrant which is the struggle of the working class”.

Foro de Comunicación para la Integracion de NuestrAmérica (FCINA)