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The Sights and Voices of Dispossession: The Fight for the Land and the Emerging Culture of the MST (The Movement of the Landless Rural Workers of Brazil)


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Emerging culture by media type -> Poems 46 resources (Edited by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Bernard McGuirk.)

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Culture: Icons, symbols, and monuments


Zé Pinto


What would Che think ?

A picture of "Che" is on the wall
In a lazy old chair worn out, thread-bare,
Midst sky-blue hues only now he risks
A rest so rare.
As veil of night quick falls
From its weary dusk
To our march he calls.
In a country of illusions plenty
And plates as empty
As a continent grand,
Yet, for so many, not a scrap of land,
With riches snobbish
And wages low.
When, suddenly, a question,
At a bend in the road,
Is raised: "What would "Che" think of this?…
If he weren't today
But a face on the wall?"
Before the marcher wakes
We know for sure
Tomorrow will show
For those who dream
"Che" was never
Just a face on the wall.


November 2002

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Compiled by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Thomas Burns.

Che Guevara
'Ernesto Guevara de la Serna (1928-1967), guerrilla leader. A doctor born in Argentina, he took an active part in the victorious Cuban Revolution. He abandoned his positions in the Cuban government to contribute to the revolutionary struggle in the Congo, and later, in Bolivia, where he was assassinated. He has been transformed into one of the icons of revolutionary struggles in Latin America'. (Fernandes, Bernardo Mançano e Stedile, João Pedro. Brava gente: a trajetória do MST e a luta pela terra no Brasil. São Paulo: Editora Fundação Perseu Abramo, 1999, p. 60-61, n. 19). 

Palmares, Quilombo of
'For many revolutionaries ... the First Free Republic of Latin America. At the end of the 16th century, around 1590, there was a revolt of the black slaves of a large sugar-mill in Pernambuco. Armed with clubs and scythes, they overcame the owners and overseers and headed for the forest … Around 1650, about 20 thousand inhabitants were living in the Quilombo [runaway slave village], collectively organized for work and defense. The most important leader of the Quilombo was Zumbi, born in 1655 in one of its villages, who, while a young man, was captured by soldiers of the governor of Pernambuco, given to the priest of Porto Calvo and baptized with the name of Francisco. In 1670, Zumbi escaped from the parish house and returned to the Quilombo of Palmares, where he became a great leader for his culture, courage, and organizational and command ability. About forty expeditions were undertaken against Palmares. Its destruction took place with a huge expedition in 1694, causing Zumbi’s death on November 20, 1695' (Calendário Histórico dos Trabalhadores. São Paulo: MST, Setor de Educação. 3a. edição, 1999, p. 38). See ZUMBI OF PALMARES. 

Anthology of poems
A first-hand selection, unpublished in Brazil and elsewhere. A militant poetics; the social and political importance of the poet-singer (cantador), the construction of a canon of exclusion; the landless woman; the theme of death as life's horizon; the pedagogic project.
Else R P Vieira

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