With Carmen Foro

For a sustainable Brazil,

without hunger and poverty


On May 17-18, Brazil's National Confederation of Agricultural Workers (CONTAG) will hold its 17th Grito da Terra (Cry of the Earth) in the country’s capital, Brasilia. A large mobilization will bring 7,000 agricultural workers together to demonstrate before the nation’s political authorities and advance their platform of demands. Carmen Foro, head of CONTAG’s Rural Women Workers division, spoke with Sirel about this year’s edition of Grito da Terra.


-What are the main issues of this year’s Grito da Terra?

-On March 1st we presented our platform of demands to President Dilma, and with that we began a process of negotiation with the government.


While this 17th Grito da Terra has a certain continuity in several key issues of our proposals, we acknowledge that over the past eight years our demands have received more effective answers, as the government of former president Lula da Silva was very receptive to our proposals.


This Grito da Terra calls for a sustainable Brazil, without hunger and poverty, and its platform includes certain points that we identify as “emergencies,” such as combating rural poverty, providing land for 150,000 families, increasing loans and resources for family farming, rural housing programs, and other issues. 


Under this framework and as one of the leading issues of our agenda, we also want to discuss the elimination of all forms of inequality, from gender to generational differences. To that end we have already gone to several ministries with proposals to implement programs focused on young people, the elderly and children and youth protection.

In her speeches, President Dilma has insisted on the fight against poverty, and we’re preparing an agenda in line with that area of concern of the government.


We’ve also incorporated more general issues, with a broader content, such as the struggle for economic, social and environmental sustainability, our modes of political participation, the strengthening of labor organizations, and the federal government budget.

-Are there any changes in the negotiation process with this new government?

-Yes, there are some changes. But we have a historical continuity in issues such as land reform, credit policies, social policies, environmental protection, etc.


In her speeches, President Dilma has insisted on the fight against poverty, and we’re preparing an agenda in line with that area of concern of the government.


Moreover, while Dilma is already governing, she’s doing so with the budget approved under Lula, as this is the last year of that budget. So it’s crucial for us to be able to influence the new budget that will determine government spending over the next four years.


Our agenda is made up of issues that need to be addressed this year, but it also has a approach that takes into consideration the full term of government.


-Do you expect anything different now that a woman is heading the country?

-I have a lot of positive expectations. The election of the first woman president in Brazil is no small thing. It’s a huge gain, and I think that so far Dilma has shown in her public addresses that she is strongly commitment to advancing women’s political issues.


She has acknowledged that poverty in Brazil has a place and a gender: poverty is feminine and it’s located in rural areas and urban peripheries. I think the first step to overcoming a problem comes when a government leader recognizes the existence of that problem. 


Dilma’s definition in this sense has been very positive for the debate on women’s inclusion in production processes as a way of dealing with poverty. I think that this coming week of negotiation, in the framework of Grito da Terra, will also be important in terms of seeing if we can move ahead on that issue.



From Montevideo, Carlos Amorín


May 12, 2011






Photo: Gerardo Iglesias


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