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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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Studies, statements & references -> Terra: The Photography of Sebastião Salgado 16 resources (Archive edited by Else R P Vieira. Photographs © Sebastião Salgado)

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Sebastião Salgado


The struggle for the land: the beginning of an encampment

See also:

Essays - The Construction of the Feminine in the Struggle for Land and in the Social Re-creation of the Settlement
Cartography - Land Occupations: Families per Region
Cartography - Land Occupation: Occupations per Region

The struggle for the land: the beginning of an encampment

Occupation of the Giacometti plantation, which at 205,900 contiguous acres is the largest in the state of Paraná. It belongs to an economic group in the state of Rio Grande do Sul which specializes in the extraction of lumber. At the start of the 1980s the government had decreed expropriation of the area as a latifundio, based on size. However, as the Giacometi group had close ties with the political establishment then dominant in the state of Paraná, the expropriation process was shelved.

Finally, the occupation of the latifundio by over 3,000 families, thus creating an unavoidable fact, will oblige INCRA, the National Institute of Agrarian Reform, to initiate the process of examining the area, with the objective of identifying it as a latifundio. The next phase will be expropriation and payment to the owners with National Treasury bonds. If the project achieves its goal, the area will be big enough to install more than 4,000 families, directly generating through its productive activites over 8,000 jobs. Paraná, 1996.

Salgado, Sebastião. Terra: Struggle of the Landless. Preface by José Saramago. Verses by Chico Buarque. Translated by Clifford Landers. London: Phaidon Press, 1998: 124 (photo), 142 (caption). Thanks to Sebastio Salgado for providing free use of his photographs and captions on this web site. For further information about the photographs and captions contact


November 2002

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

Encampment, Camp
‘A space for struggle and resistance created during the occupation of land. It may be located in a part of a landed-estate, at the side of the road, or in front of buildings belonging to the government. The encampment is the form in which the Sem Terra reveal their problems to the public; in this way, it is also a form of pressure to speed up negotiations of Sem Terra demands’(Fernandes, Bernardo Mançano. Pequeno Vocabulário da Luta pela Terra. Unpublished). See also SETTLEMENT and TERRITORIALIZATION. 

'An organized action of Sem Terra families to appropriate an area on a latifundium for the purpose of pressuring the government to disappropriate the estate and implant a rural settlement. Thus, it is a space for struggle and resistance and has been the main form of access to the land' (Fernandes, Bernardo Mançano. A formação do MST no Brasil. Editora Vozes, 2000, p. 281). 

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