Access to natural resources

The famous landless movement (Movimiento sin Tierra) of Brazil invited a group of Jesuits to a solidarity-day with Latin American landless people. The celebration took place on a piece of land which had been reclaimed and simply taken possession of (asentamiento) 25 years ago; it is located 130 km. from Porto Alegre. About 800 ha. of land were occupied, and today there are 35 families living there, cultivating ecological rice and other agricultural product for self-consumption. They are engaged in fighting for access to land and agrarian reform. According to the latest agricultural census (2003), small landholders (having less than 100 ha.) account for 85 per cent of all agricultural holdings, but this represents only 14 per cent of the total cultivated land in Brazil. As Bishop Casáldaliga says, ?land is much more than land?; it provides social and political identity, and, of course, a livelihood. About 1000 persons from various countries accompanied the MST during the ceremony. Among the invitees: Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, and Bishop Dom Tomas, President of the Brazilian Bishops Pastoral Commission on Land. In his speech Dom Tomas emphasized the importance of Vatican II and the Medellin declaration that provided an impulse to the Church to support and accompany the birth and consolidation of the movement. This social movement has been able to organise itself and is now an interlocutor with the state. The two representatives of Sri Lanka from the Jesuit delegation were happy to meet two Sri Lankan peasants and share experiences. (Reported by Cristina Manzanedo, Entreculturas, Spain).