Pay close attention
Companion lads and lasses,
To a story I am about to tell,
I will speak of the struggle of the land
And of a people who are oppressed
But have a great dream of a better life,
Of giving land to whoever needs it
And of Agrarian Reform now.
Out of the dictatorship and the angry workers
More forces were created
And the movements were formed.
A few years went by
And the leagues were organized.
There were many conflicts
And the people began to understand
That all have the right to land for farming.
João Pedro Teixeira , Leader of the Peasant Leagues ,
A strong man, a fighter, was killed without mercy
And his wife made a vow to continue the struggle.
With the crisis in the fields, in agriculture,
And the migrations to the great cities,
Unemployment came and the organized people created the MST.
Families driven off a native reservation,
Weary from walking aimlessly,
Decided to organize, their minds made up,
Marching to occupy some land.
On that day, the first occupation had its beginning.
The rulers didn’t know that the return to the struggles
To occupy the land had started.
The first slogan of this organization shouted:
Land of God, Land of brothers, and Land for all.
The companions cried out with great conviction.
The organization grew, there was a lot to do.
The companions all gathered together to make the convention happen.
In January of eighty-four, in Cascavel , in Paraná,
The leadership met from thirteen states of Brazil,
To decide what they were going to do
For the sake of the MST.
All together to decide their aims, forms, and organization,
The abbreviation of the Movement,
And the first demands to be made.
The objective of the MST is
To make the workers’ struggles happen,
Which is the real Agrarian Reform,
Without exploited and exploiters.
Then there was more to the aims of the Organization.
Let us work on the political situation,
The structure and formation,
Human rights, health and education.
Let us work for values:
Determination for the struggle,
The capacity for indignation,
A life while it can still be lived,
To see life happen,
To have the right to speak,
To cry out for justice.
After so much injustice, many were tortured,
There were massacres: Corumbiara, Carandiru and Eldorado.
There were many deaths: João Pedro Teixeira, Oziel and Teixeirinha.
The massacre of Candelária, where many children died.
Not forgetting the others who inspire us:
Karl Marx, Paulo Freire, and Margarida Alves.
The death of our companions is a wound that never heals.
We cannot forget the great Che Guevara.
With the continuation of the struggle,
They met again, creating the slogans:
Occupy, resist, and produce.
Agrarian Reform is everyone’s struggle.
When the landowner wants war, we want land.
With these slogans the struggle speeds up.
During all these years, many were the victories.
The Alternative Nobel Prize was moving
And the Unicef Prize for the Program of Education.
What has stood out in recent times
Has been the great assembly, with fifteen hundred encamped,
All well organized, to speak to the President(1),
While facing so much pressure.
He had no choice: angrily, he tried to meet the MST demands.
With all this history, we have had many successes.
We are two-hundred thousand families settled
And more than seven million hectares taken from the latifundia,
Creating work and food
And making our history.
We are not satisfied. We have a lot to say.
We were all organized for popular consultation,
Raising the people’s consciousness
For a great march of the poor and oppressed
To destroy the farce of the oppressors.
This is why we march.
To make Agrarian Reform we will challenge ourselves,
Take part in the people’s struggle
And try to change Brazil.
Our struggle is social, of this I have no doubt.
There is the Indian, the white, the black
To change this nation.
After the peasant struggles
With deaths, victories, and bitter experiences,
With many struggles and much organization
The MST is now “fifteen years old.”
Paulo Freire once said: to educate is to educate oneself
In the practice of freedom.
It is a job for those who know and those who know little,
Transforming their thinking to change society.
Here I end, very content
To speak of the fifteen years
Of this great Movement.
It is with great emotion
That I tell this story
Of the struggle for our land
Which will remain in memory
A Free Nation!
1. In the original text, the initials FHC for the President Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994-2002) are specified.