MST Brasil update from singer Ricky Ross

Tony Gosling tony at
Sat Sep 1 13:40:40 BST 2012

Ricky Returns To See Land Rights Progress

Several films to watch here too.

More than a decade after visiting Brazil to 
discover how christian aid partner the Landless 
People’s Movement (MSt) helps poor Brazilians get 
land of their own, deacon Blue frontman ricky 
ross recently returned to see how things have changed.
Under the Brazilian constitution, land that is 
not being used can be claimed for redistribution 
to people who have no land. MSt helps make sure 
that this rhetoric becomes reality. the Scottish 
singer, songwriter and broadcaster was first 
invited to Brazil by christian aid in 1998. the 
families he met at that time were camping under 
plastic sheeting at the side of the road while 
MSt helped them legally apply for ownership.
On ricky’s return, he found that things had moved 
on a lot for families he had met. Many had camped 
for up to 10 years before establishing legal 
tenure to build homes and farms. Lucia de Souse 
was one of those people. She proudly welcomed 
ricky into her home, and told him her children 
have grown up and live in settled communities like hers.
I remember the encampment very well,’ she said. 
‘Life was very difficult. We had six of us in our 
tent at that time, and there were significant health and sanitation issues.
Ricky said: ‘I never thought I’d get the chance 
to come back after all these years and see 
someone in their own house, so it’s a real 
pleasure to be here. What I love about christian 
aid’s work in Brazil is that it imagines a better 
future and, with some great courage and strength 
from local people, that dream comes true.
A full version of this story is available to readers in Scotland on page 24.
See also Ricky’s blog at

Towards Promissão
Jen (my Christian Aid travelling companion) said 
to me yesterday,'What has been your favourite moment so far?'
My favourite moment really wouldn't have happened 
to me had a series of slight misadventures not taken place...
Firstly we were delayed getting out of São Paulo 
due to heavy traffic on Thursday. With so many 
people coming along with us in our minibus, 
various items had been forgotten and so we were 
already getting near to the end of the daylight 
by the time we broke down just outside Bauru.
By the time a brilliant 'Dunkirk'-like flotilla 
of MST friends vehicles picked us up and whisked 
us on our way to Promissão the dark was falling 
and we could only hope we would catch the sights again tomorrow.
It was the gathering dark however that allowed me 
to witness one of the most amazing changes since 
I'd been here the last time. As we headed towards 
Promissão, Mara pointed to both sides of the road 
where we could see little twinkling lights breaking through the night.
These were the lights of Dandara, the encampment 
I had visited in 1998, now a settled community 
with houses and farms dotted all around. It went on for miles.
My thoughts turned back to having coffee and 
bread in the tents by the roadside and asking 
people if they had ever expected to see a day 
when they would be living on their own land.
Seeing the task ahead of them I often wondered 
how possible it would be to achieve success, but 
on that long road at the end of a long journey I 
realised how completely the MST families have realised their dream.

Meeting the partners
Ricky meets our partners in Sao Paulo and sees 
why preparations for the 2014 World Cup aren’t 
necessarily benefitting the city’s poor.
It’s the end of a long day and we’re standing in 
a rubbish dump. When I say rubbish dump I should 
be much more accurate; where we are standing is 
right next to a rubbish dump and it is a recycle 
centre called ‘Coopere Centro’ and there is a 
very satisfied smile on Rene’s face.
Rene Ivo Goncalves is one of the founding 
coordinators of Gaspar Garcia, a neighbourhood 
human rights centre supported by Christian Aid 
here in Sao Paulo. Rene’s satisfaction is not 
misplaced. He’s been a fine guide on our tour 
round some of the work being carried out in the 
city and he’d be right to feel proud.
However, he’s also pointing to the roof of 
Coopere which he designed and built...and heck, 
it looks good too. Coopere is a recycling 
cooperative which takes people who may otherwise 
be eeking out a living on the street and brings 
them into one of the earliest recycling waste centres in Sao Paulo.
Support comes from Gaspar Garcia and throughout 
the day we have been made aware of how important 
their work is. There is a movement abroad to 
cleanse this sprawling mass and the city centre 
is undergoing a huge change to show the world a 
new improved Sao Paulo in 2014 for the World Cup.
However, the cost of this is to move thousands of 
families out of their poor housing without 
offering them real alternatives. Many of these 
families will be squatting in old property or 
bits of land where they will live in one roomed 
houses with next to no sanitation and rather precarious power supplies.
Gaspar Garcia offers these families support and 
legal advice in how to establish permanent tenure 
of their dwellings or organising them against 
sudden expulsions organised to beautify the city in time for 2014.
If you want to gauge how serious a threat this is 
I asked Benedito Barbosa, a lawyer from the 
centre, if he now would prefer the World Cup not 
to happen and he gravely nodded.
Had he known how bad the outcome would be for 
these families he said he wished it had never 
been planned for Brazil. From a football loving 
country that’s quite a statement. Tomorrow I go 
to the countryside and return to meet some old 
friends who have made the land their own in Promissao.

+44 (0)7786 952037
"Capitalism is institutionalised bribery."

"The maintenance of secrets acts like a psychic 
poison which alienates the possessor from the community" Carl Jung

Fear not therefore: for there is nothing covered 
that shall not be revealed; and nothing hid that 
shall not be made known. What I tell you in 
darkness, that speak ye in the light and what ye 
hear in the ear, that preach ye upon the housetops. Matthew 10:26-27

Die Pride and Envie; Flesh, take the poor's advice.
Covetousnesse be gon: Come, Truth and Love arise.
Patience take the Crown; throw Anger out of dores:
Cast out Hypocrisie and Lust, which follows whores:
Then England sit in rest; Thy sorrows will have end;
Thy Sons will live in peace, and each will be a friend.  
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