Help Payday Hire a “Fixer” to Cover the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement

Through land occupations, the Brazilian Landless Workers Movement (MST) has helped 400,000 families gain the right to farmland (MST).

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For nearly 40 years, the Brazilian Landless Workers (MST) movement has used land occupations to help over 400,000 families gain the right to farmland.

Using agrarian reform provisions of the 1988 Brazilian constitution that “property should serve its social function”, the MST has engaged in long legal and political battles to win the right to occupy farms.

Despite often facing deadly violence from landowners, the MST is the largest producer of organic rice in all of Latin America. They have a network of stores and produce patterns around the country.

Unlike other companies, the Landless Workers Movement is also a political party with over 1.5 million dues-paying members throughout Brazil.  They played a key role in helping to elect Lula this past winter.

Their organizational strength and creative ideas about solidarity economics have propelled them to become a driving force in Brazilian politics.  This week, I’m going into rural Brazil to cover the Landless Workers’ Movements. While I speak fluent Portuguese, I have decided to hire a veteran Brazilian journalist Fernando Cavalcanti, who has worked for Folha de São Paulo, BBC, and CNN, to help me with my coverage.

Fernando is also going to film as we drive around and visit three different settlements of the Landless Workers Movement.  We plan to release a short 9-10 minute documentary explaining to our subscribers what is happening. 

Brazilian solidarity economics have the potential to inspire workers in the US. However, almost no publications on the left have reporters who speak Portuguese fluently. Fortunately, I learned Portuguese when I studied journalism at PUC-RIO in the early 2000s, and through friends and frequent visits have maintained my fluency.

So for the next two weeks, I will be out in the field, and we need help covering this story.

Last year, we filed 23 stories from Brazil during the election and our reporting had a big impact. I was the only American reporter in the room with Lula on the morning of the election and then traveled all the way to the Oval Office with him.

Donate today to help us have a big impact again and help us hire a Brazilian “fixer” to cover the Landless Workers Movement in Brazil.

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]