In the fall of 2016, three LeftRoots cadres—Alex, Paige, and Ying-sun—got to spend seven weeks studying at the Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes (ENFF), the national school of Brazil’s Movement of Landless Peasants (MST—Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Terra). On April 6, 2017, the three of them hosted a national LeftRoots hangOut to talk about their experience. This is the recording of that hangOut.
Three community organizers who are members of LeftRoots are currently studying with the MST at the ENFF, and we have received word from them that they are okay and were not injured in the attack.
According to reports, police raided the school at 9:25 am local time and fired live ammunition into the air. At the time of the release of this statement, police had withdrawn from the school and were posted in front of the ENFF waiting for warrants to be issued.
LeftRoots condemns this attack on the MST, which is clearly part of a growing assault on social movements and the Left by the rightwing government which took power in a coup earlier this year.
The MST plays a vital role in not only building powerful grassroots organizing for indigenous, afro-descendant, women’s and poor people’s land rights in Brazil, but also plays a critical role in building a strong and vibrant Social Movement Left around the world, in part by bringing together cadre in their political education school, which was the subject of this raid. We call on all progressive forces to stand with the MST and Brazilian social movements.
While we standby for more information and direction from the MST as to how they would like international allies to respond, in the meantime we are asking folks to IMMEDIATELY call the US State Department and the Brazilian Embassy to demand that the police and military stand down, stop their attack on the MST and ENFF, release any activists who have been arrested, and cease intimidation tactics against social movements and human rights activists. It is helpful to note that there are U.S. citizens studying at the ENFF, which is currently under siege, and to demand the US pressure Brazilian officials to end the repression against the MST.