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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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Cultural categories by media type: The media specificity of landless cultural expression.

Cultural category:

 Culture: Hopes and aspirations

  9 resources

Media type:

 Children's compositions

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Children's compositions


Vanda Almeida Nascimento
(40 years old, Sepé Tiaraju School, the Liberdade no Futuro Settlement, Santana do Livramento, state of Rio Grande do Sul.) Reproduced with the permission of the MST São Paulo


Brazil, how old are you?
(Brazil has not reached independence, it only exchanged dependencies. Misery grows. Whether or not we define the problematic age of Brazil, one we should aim for a better country.)

This is a very difficult question to answer, because nobody knows exactly how old Brazil is.

The communications media say that Brazil is 500 years old, because they count from 1500, when the Portuguese invaded Brazil, but Brazil already existed. Almost nobody remembers that before the Portuguese the Indians already lived here. When the Portuguese arrived, people were mistreated, they lost their lands, most of them died, and those who managed to save themselves were enslaved. Even today they suffer a lot, they are burned alive, and the authorities do nothing to change the situation.

Brazil, how old are you?

Will we be able to answer that question some day? Because one thing we are sure of, that Brazil did not begin in 1500. Few things have changed, Brazil is no longer dependent on Portugal, but on the United States and the IMF. Many things have gotten worse, like the children living on the streets, who are hungry and cold. Poverty in Brazil is increasing more and more, and even though we do not know how old Brazil is we will fight for the situation to change in the next few years, that the true inhabitants of Brazil may have their rights, that the chldren have the right to an education, that everyone can work, that no one goes hungry.

Even not knowing how old Brazil is, we are going to do the impossible, so that in the next few years the Brazilian situation may change, but change for the better.

Children's compositions : Organized by Else R P Vieira. Translation © Thomas Burns.


November 2002

Resource ID:


Life Projects: The Brazil we want.
The children’s texts included here come from a collection of prize-winning essays of the National Contest for Essays and Drawings organized by the MST Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra [Movement of the Landless Rural Workers], in 1998, when the Movement was fifteen years old. The contest included elementary schools of the encampments and settlements all over Brazil.

The winning essays were published in an anthology titled Desenhando o Brasil [Drawing Brazil], organized by Alípio Freire, Silvana Panzoldo and Emílio Alonso (São Paulo: Editora Lidador, 1999). The data on the authors were obtained from the same anthology. All the essays originally had the general title "The Brazil We Want." The specific sub-titles added were derived from the texts of each author. The texts are here republished with the authorization of the MST of São Paulo.

Else R. P. Vieira. Translated by Thomas L. Burns

See also: The compositions and poems of the little landless: history under revision

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