Sergio Sauer: Interview with João Pedro Stédile, national leader of the MST – Brazil, in: The Journal of Peasant Studies 47 (2020) No. 5, pp. 927-943,
Interview by Sergio Sauer with João Pedro Stédile, a national leader of the MST in Brazil (MST: Movimento dos Sem Terra, Portuguese for: Movement of the Landless).
Underlying the interview is the unsolidaristic and irresponsible behavior of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who reduces the COVID-19 crisis to a political issue and focuses on an economic crisis. Yet Brazil faces a triple crisis of a global pandemic, its economic and social consequences, and a political crisis. Nevertheless, Bolsonaro’s approval rating remains relatively high (in general: 30%, in the corporate sector: 52%). Bolsonaro involves the military in the government and supports it to the point of demands for a return to military dictatorship. He stopped agrarian reform and thus necessary improvements for the rural population, which is also affected by the rapid spread of Covid-19 in the poorest areas. Bolsonaro encourages the (fire-)clearing of large forest areas in the Amazon and has legalized land grabbing.
In this catastrophic scenario, agrarian social and environmental movements are struggling to maintain policies and protect rights in the Brazilian rural areas. But at this historic juncture, they are also organizing acts of solidarity with the urban populations most affected by the social isolation and unemployment that have accompanied the pandemic.
Seeking to understand the ‘quasi-apocalyptic’ situation in Brazil, Sergio Sauer interviewed João Pedro Stédile, one of the national leaders of the Landless Rural Workers Movement, a political activist and renowned Brazilian economist.