Globalise struggle, globalise hope! – Friends of MST international gathering

On the 25 and 26 October, 250 activists, union organizers, agricultural workers and producers met in a small city nestled in the Galician hills

On the 25 and 26 October, 250 activists, union organizers, agricultural workers and producers met in a small city nestled in the Galician hills: Mondoñedo. Most people were there for the biennial gathering of Spain’s food sovereignty network: Plataforma Rural to discuss issues affecting agriculture including supporting youth involvement in the countryside; feminist contributions to food sovereignty and the challenges posed by the globalised food system to local fishing and agriculture.

At the same time, forty people met for the international ‘Friends of MST’ gathering. This was to help people involved in supporting Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement to coordinate their efforts while getting to know members of Spain’s food sovereignty network.

Having been to the MST’s congress in February, I went to the gathering to find out what people in other countries have been doing on food and land issues and the priorities for the MST.

You could sense people’s excitement throughout the weekend, and see new connections and friendships being made. I found out about inspiring struggles taking place in Spain, including the successful campaign to stop an open-cast mine in Corcoesto and the eco-vilage of Amayuelas.

The weekend culminated in a great ‘festa’ featuring traditional Galego music and dance and a lot of food and drink! At the centre of the festivities was a ‘queimada’ – a cauldron of burning spirit which comes from Galicia’s folklore of witches (‘meigas’). Usually the ‘queimadas’ were held to keep away bad spirits and the witches, but on this night, it was announced (to great cheers!) that this cauldron was burning to expel capitalism from agriculture.

Friends of MST 

Friends of MST groups exist across the world to support and share the Landless Workers Movement’s struggle. As well as playing an important role in communicating the MST’s successes, fundraising and denouncing violence and death’s inflicted on the movement, each group is involved in campaigning on land issues and fighting against the corporate takeover of agriculture in their countries. 

People from Sweden, Germany, Norway, Canada, the US, Belgium, Argentina and  several of the regions in Spain (Asturias, Basque Country, Catalonia, Galicia, Andalucia)took part in the gathering, as well as two activists from the movement itself. The four dominant themes were: feminisms, food sovereignty, land grabs and the urban-rural relationshio, and the aim was to find ways of working on these issues in the most coherent and relevant way in the context of the MST’s struggle. Throughout the weekend, proposals were made for ways to coordinate our struggles more effectively, issues were discussed such as the impact of TTIP on agriculture; the international campaign to dismantle corporate power, as well as, perhaps most importantly, getting to know each other and building cross-border affinities and working groups. 

Supporting the MST’s struggle

WDM has a history of supporting the MST, having referenced it in several briefings, hosted speaker events featuring MST activists and taken part in the movement’s fifth congress last February Brasilia. In June this year, the Calderdale WDM group held a talk and film screening about the MST and I gave a talk about the congress at the North and East London group’s meeting. There’s a lot you can do to support the MST and to be involved with the international Friends of MST network. If you would like to find out more contact activism@wdm.org.uk 

You can find out more about the MST at and be updated on news from the movement on the Friends of MST website and Facebook page.

 

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