Poverty eradication has been on the global development agenda since the birth of development itself. Unfortunately for the impoverished, the agenda of the neoliberal and transnational classes are not as concerned with poverty eradication as they are with capital and industry. This means that the needs of the citizens, poor citizens in particular, get put on the back burner in the name of economic growth and free market policy. In Latin America, 40% of the population is categorized as poor, and in Brazil the extreme level of disparity and the states refusal to adequately address it has led to the formation of a Landless Workers Movement which calls itself the MST (Leiva, 2008). The MST believe that agrarian reform and redistribution of wealth and power are the solution for Brazil's poverty woes, and that the current top-down, or trickle down policies are not solutions but are in fact a part of the problem. The purpose of this case study will be to not only get a better understanding of the MST but to also find out how, or even if its results can be duplicated in other third world countries. Identifying the problem
the general problem is poverty, but under the surface there are many different elements at work. The driving force behind it all is the most important because identifying and understanding it will make it easier to diagnose, and from the research it is clear that the locomotive behind the poverty in Brazil is capitalism and its sidekick, consumptionism. As most probably already know 20% of the worlds population accounts for over 85% of total private consumption expenditures (UNDP, 1998). In Brazil, 10% of the population owns 75 percent of the nations wealth, to bring it even closer into perspective 0.1% of the population owns 40% of the nations wealth. Brazil also has the second highest concentration of land ownership in the world with less than 1% owning over 46% of land area, meanwhile 4.6 million landless families continue to live in conditions of extreme poverty and distress. (www.mstbrazil.org/about-mst/). As mentioned earlier, the reason behind this is the focus put on free market forces controlling the land reform policies, it is believed that market forces produce more desirable results on the economy when left unhindered (Borras, 2008). This line of thought is pushed for by the Modernizationists of the West who push for neoliberal policies, declaring it as the ticket out of poverty. Theses Modernizationists want to see an evolution in nations like Brazil, an evolution from subsistence farming towards commercial production of agricultural goods. This calls for a specialization in cash crops, purchase of non-agricultural products in the market and agricultural wage labour (Allen and Thomas, 2000). Oddly enough, these policies are known to be more of a benefit to Core nations, where the majority of these Modernizationists come from, at the expense of the periphery nations. In actuality it is capitalist consumerism that makes these demands putting a strain of the livelihood of impoverished citizens in the third world by demanding more for less. Neoliberal markets are the problem because they want to works with transnational corporations, which they believe will inject the economy with new money, when in reality, all the competition from outside the nation crushes the indigenous population. Eventually the owners of small and mid-sized businesses and particularly farmers in this case, are muscled out, those same farmers are eventually stripped of everything and forced to work for the big companies and plantations they once competed for, the cycle is vicious and long-standing (UNDP, 1998). The point of all this is too clarify that the agenda of capitalism and its constituents is in direct disagreement with the needs of the people of Brazil. Introducing the MST
The Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra, otherwise known as Brazil's Landless Workers Movement, is the reaction or alternative...
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