On March 31, 2016, Tufts UEP co-hosted a dialogue with Debora Nunes Lino Da Silva, a leader with Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST), and Yasmin Lopez, a leader of the Women’s Regional Commission of La Vía Campesina–Central America, based in Honduras. More than 60 Tufts students and community members from Greater Boston attended this evening event at Tufts downtown campus, which was co-hosted by Grassroots International, Why Hunger, and Friends of MST. The evening began with a mistica (tribute and reflection) to Berta Caceres, a Honduran environmental and human rights activist who was assassinated in March.
With interpretation in Spanish, Portuguese, and English, Nunes and Lopez talked about their movement work in Brazil and Honduras. In Brazil, the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) has been reclaiming rural land and building communities based on cooperative and solidarity economics. Since 1984, they have settled more than 370,000 families on more than 7.5 million hectares of land, where they have built agricultural cooperatives, schools, and health care facilities. Their current struggles center around countering the efforts to take down the democratically elected government.
La Via Campesina is a global social movement led by landless peasants, small scale farmers, women, indigenous people, and migrant workers from around the world. Lopez spoke about how people are taking over land to implement small-scale sustainable agriculture to promote food sovereignty and social justice. In the dialogue, one attendee who now lives in the Boston area shared the story of how his friend, a fellow Brazilian immigrant, had gotten involved in one of MST’s land settlements before moving to the US. Though he had to leave Brazil, family members who remained are now settled on and farming the reclaimed land. This story highlighted one theme throughout the evening about the need for building solidarity and ties across global communities.
This event was also sponsored by Tufts ASE Diversity Fund, Tufts New Economy, Tufts Friedman School’s Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program, Tufts Latin American Studies, and Tufts Portuguese Program.