Landless Workers Invade Brazil’s Parliament

About 300 demonstrators protesting the slow pace of land reform invaded the Brazilian Parliament Building June 7. The protesters vandalized the pristine building and destroyed a car waiting to be raffled off to Congressional staff member. Security officers called in by Speaker of the House Aldo Rebelo battled protesters who tried to enter the main floor of the Congress, while it was in session.

According to the AP, Marcos Praxedes, leader of the Movement for the Liberation of the Landless MLST, said that the action was taken to express deep frustrations with delays in land reform under Brazilian President Lula da Silva. The MLST is smaller and distinct from the larger and well-known Landless Workers Movement (MST or Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra). Both groups occupy fallow land, which is constitutionally protected in Brazil. The MLST is known for its occupation of government offices.

The MST and the MLST have both criticized the Lula government for not doing enough for land reform during his term in office. In May 2005 more than 12,000 MST supporters marched 125 miles to the capital city of Brasilia to meet with the President.

The government promised 400,000 families would be settled by 2006. Official figures of settled families hover around 90,000. The MST says the actual number is far less.