MST: Anti-Imperialist Day for the Environment

Fernanda Alcântara
Photo: Eduardo Moura

In a year when deforestation in the Amazon and the release of agrotoxins are the highest in the last ten years, there wasn’t much to celebrate on the Environment Day, last Saturday (June 5th). However, several popular movements and organizations took advantage of the date to denounce the policies of the Bolsonaro government against the Brazilian people and the environment and raise the banner with the slogan: “People Alive! A Standing Forest! Out with Bolsonaro!”.

Articulated by the Anti-imperialist Day for the Environment, the MST and some popular movements held acts in various regions of the country to draw attention to the attacks on peasant agriculture, indigenous peoples, quilombolas, traditional peoples and communities.

Currently, the peoples of the countryside, the rivers and the forests are part of the barricades in defence of human life and nature. Whether defending territories or sharing seeds, native seedlings and healthy food, traditional peoples protect and promote the diversity of lives in the different biomes of Brazil and are responsible for the preservation of about 30% of Brazilian biodiversity.

In an exclusive interview, Katia Penha, national coordinator of the National Coordination of Articulation of Rural Black Quilombola Communities (CONAQ), commented on the importance of this Day and how, four days before the day of the environment, the president of Palmares Cultural Foundation revoked the Normative Instruction that guaranteed environmental protection around quilombola territories in the country.

When analysing Bolsonaro’s policy of environmental destruction, Katia pointed out that the peoples of the countryside, waters and forests have nothing to celebrate because the environmental devastation promoted by this government threatens the survival of these peoples. In this sense, according to her, the quilombola peoples have nothing to celebrate in relation to the environment, but they believe that it is essential to continue the fight for the “recovery of the areas [so that] we can have water and food on the tables of Brazilians in the countryside and in the city, because every quilombo defends the environment and every quilombo must be protected,” Katia points out.

But the violations of rights committed today do not stop there. Mining and hydroelectric corporations, as well as large-scale burning, have been promoted by large landholdings and agribusiness, and are part of the actions and policies of the federal government to take advantage of the pandemic to “pass the buck”. Thus, the Brazilian necropolitics promoted by the Bolsonaro government is also associated with deforestation and the attacks on traditional peoples by illegal mining and the expansion of latifundia (large land estates).

Faced with these challenges, the acts sought to dialogue with Brazilian and international society, but always complying with the norms of the World Health Organization (WHO) to contain the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition to the demonstrations in the Federal District and in some capitals, the Anti-Imperialist Day for the Environment included decentralized activities in territories from north to south of the country such as the planting of trees, donation of seedlings and food baskets.

Check out some of these actions:

International

The Samora Machel Brigade held mobilisations around the International Environment Day on the African continent, in Zambia and South Africa.


South

Landless families from the Contestado settlement in Lapa (PR), organise the planting of 3 thousand tree seedlings in the protection area of the waterfall and artesian well. 300 native tree seedlings were planted on the banks of Clarito Stream, in Cascavel (PR), where the murder of Valmir Mota (Keno) was also remembered. Also in Cascavel, representatives of political parties, trade unions and social movements concluded the actions of World Environment Day with an ecological walk to contemplate and photograph native species in an area of approximately 280 hectares of Atlantic Forest, protected by landless families from the Acampamento Resistência Camponesa (Peasant Resistance Encampment) for over two decades.

In Santa Catarina, Landless families from the settlement Filhos do Contestado, in São Cristóvão do Sul (SC), planted 200 trees in the Bosque da Solidariedade.

In Rio Grande do Sul, in the Environment, the youth of the Popular Brazil Front from Candiota carried out a symbolic activity of denunciation, in front of the Eletrobrás Thermoelectric Plant in the municipality, against the privatization of the public company.

Northeast

In Maceió (AL), 100 fruit trees from the areas of Agrarian Reform in the Zona da Mata of Alagoas were planted in the Muvuca community by local residents and representatives of the MST, MTD and MMC. In the municipality of Atalaia, in the Zona da Mata, the MST donated around 1,000 seedlings to commemorate Environment Day. In Taquarana (AL), the Youth Collective from the 1º de Outubro Camp held a community task-force to clean up the creek. In Piranhas (AL), around 100 tree seedlings were planted on the banks of the São Francisco River. In Sertão de Alagoas, the MST put up banners on the bridge on the border between Alagoas and Sergipe, on the banks of the São Francisco River.

In Caruaru (PE), Pau Brasil and Baobá were planted in the Santa Rosa neighbourhood, in the woods of the UFPE/CAA. And in the Marielle Franco and Antônio Cândido Camps, located in the city of Goiana, the Landless Workers planted more than 500 trees.

Amazon

In the Terra Cabana and Chico Mendes camps, in Benevides (PA), a symbolic act denounced the Bolsonaro government’s policy of devastation of the Amazon.

In Rondônia, the youth of Via Campesina movements (MAB, MPA, MST) and Levante Popular da Juventude held symbolic acts in Porto Velho, in front of IBAMA Superintendence in the state, denouncing the dismantling of the MMA and environmental policies by the Bolsonaro government and in front of CPA (seat of state government) denouncing the recent approval of the reduction of two conservation units in the state. The mobilizations in defence of the Environment also continued with banners and the planting of trees in the cities of Jaru and Ariquemes. And an act of denunciation, on the Jaru and Jamary River, one of the main tributaries of the Madeira River.

In Maranhão, MST and Via Campesina, in partnership with other movements, carried out an action in Quilombo da Mamuna, in Alcântara. In Imperatriz, the MST marked the date with an act in front of IBAMA to denounce the destruction of the Amazon. In the capital São Luís, the buildings of IBAMA, REFESSA and the Ministry of Economy (decentralized unit) received projections calling for jail for Salles, in defence of the environment and against the handing over of the Alcântara base!

DF and Central-West

In Brasilia, social movements, unions and popular organisations mobilised in a symbolic act on the Esplanade of the Ministries, in front of the Ministry of Environment (MMA) and the National Congress. The act denounced the environmental destruction actions promoted by the Bolsonaro Government and Minister Salles, and announced the resistance actions of peasant agriculture, indigenous peoples, quilombolas and traditional communities. An action with crosses denounced the more than 470,000 Covid-19 deaths in Brazil and banners denounced the environmental crimes committed by the Bolsonaro government. A tree set up on the esplanade lawn with agroecological food and tree seedlings symbolised popular resistance to these attacks. In the Federal District, 1.5 tons of agro-ecological food from Agrarian Reform settlements and camps was donated and around 500 tree seedlings were planted in Agrarian Reform territories.

Landless youth from the Mártires da Terra settlement in São Bento do Tocantins (TO) planted fruit trees in the settlement. In Goiânia, Goiás, the MST and ASIBAMA donated around 500 tree seedlings.

South-East

The MST in Pontal do Paranapanema (SP) delivered baskets with healthy food in Rosana and Presidente Prudente. Sem Terrinha children from the Agro-villa Che Guevara, in Mirante do Paranapanema, planted trees and medicinal herbs in the surroundings of the Santa Clara State School. The MST and Armazém do Campo also distributed seedlings in the city of São Paulo and seedlings were planted in the Comuna da Terra Irmã Alberta, an MST settlement.

In Rio de Janeiro, state deputy Renata Souza visited the PDS Osvaldo de Oliveira and the Acampamento Edson Nogueira, agroecological experiences of the MST in Macaé.