Marielle! VIVE! Marielle! VIVE! Marielle! VIVE!
Brazil, much like other settler-colonial societies, is a country rooted in land-based conflicts. Most of Brazil’s land is privately owned by 9 families. As the major cities began to expand, the workers were pushed to the outskirts of the city, where there was no work, housing or transport. This has caused large favelas to emerge in the outskirts of the city.
Despite the workers severe shortage of land, 40% of Brazils land is unassigned/in dispute. The 1988 constitution stated that if a piece of land is deemed unproductive, it should be given to the workers to make a living off. However, in most cases, this land taken over by realty speculators. The Landless Workers Movement (MST) are an organisation, 2 million strong, that seek to occupy these lands and take back workers rights.
We visited Marielle Vive, an MST community in Sao Paulo. This community was named after Marielle Franco, a black politician and LGBTQI+ advocate. She was considered a political rebel due to her views, and two years ago, she was assassinated. This community established three months after Marielle’s death. There are 880 members of this community, and 33 groups. Each group is responsible for a different area of the community e.g. kitchen, security, medical.
We were lucky enough to visit the community school and play with the kids. This was the highlight of my day. They were so excited to show me their books and toys and to run around. We were also shown the community garden that produces enough to feed everyone.
At the conclusion of our trip we performed a bracket for the community, with two waiata and a haka. This was to show our respect and to communicate that we stand in solidarity with their fight, no matter where we are in the world. The response was so beautiful. The community were crying and responded by chanting “Marielle, VIVE!”.
What surprised me most was the feeling of joy and hope in these communities. Despite their ongoing hardships and struggles, they were always welcoming and willing to share what little resources they had with us. I couldn’t help but draw connections between my experiences here with my time at Ihumātao. These colonial land struggles are not just restricted to indigenous peoples, they extend to the workers, the oppressed and the marginalised of every society. We cannot underestimate the value of community solidarity. People power is a force to be reckoned with.