Old far-left groups in the country, such as the MST (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) and CUT (Central Única dos Trabalhadores), are incorporating agendas from identity movements to modernize their discourse and attract youth.
Topics such as feminism, racism and diversity, which until the beginning of the 2010s were rarely the focus of these groups, are gaining more and more strength both in their official positions and in their structures.
At the end of October, CUT created a National LGBTQIA+ Secretariat. “From now on, the representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in the world of work becomes the Central’s definitive policy”, says the text announcing the news on the group’s website. The secretariat will be headed by Walmir Siqueira, who was already coordinator of the CUT LGBTQIA+ Collective.
The organization has also raised the flag of diversity in the workplace and anti-racism in its communication materials. Last week, the CUT website’s main highlight was “Anti-Racism Pills”, a 30-video campaign on how to avoid racism in the workplace.
Also in October, the MST promoted the “Youth Camp in Fight, for Land and Popular Sovereignty” in Brasília, where themes such as feminism and racism were the focus. “We will no longer tolerate any type of patriarchal, LGBTI+phobic, racist violence!”, wrote a young activist about the event on the MST website.
The previous month, the MST organized its 3rd Seminar on Sexual and Gender Diversity at Via Campesina Brasil. The event was attended by 80 participants who fell within the LGBTQIA+ community. In June, the movement began to participate in the “Permanent Campaign Against LGBTI+phobia in the Countryside” and organized, in São Paulo, an LGBT Pride party called “Close & Luta”.
The union between the so-called “root left”, which adopts a more classic perspective of Marxism and class struggle, and the “woke” left, formed by identity movements, became more common after the election of Jair Bolsonaro as president and the need that leftists identified to join forces to oppose the expanding right in Brazil.
To renew their ranks, old leaders of leftist social movements have had to overcome some difficulties of conciliation: they tend to repudiate, for example, the new left’s alliance with capitalist liberalism and the excessive focus on customs issues, but they have swallowed the news.
In a May interview with the Mônica Bergamo column, from Folha de S.PauloMST leader João Pedro Stédile stated: “I was more sexist, more ignorant. I changed along with the movement.”
In an answer booklet, MST lobbies for pro-LGBT agendas in the government
In addition to publishing content and organizing events in which it demonstrates its openness to identity issues, the MST has made efforts to get the government to create programs especially aimed at the LGBT community in the rural sector.
The requests are in a response notebook published in October. The document, which is on the government website, is a compilation of demands made by the MST and responses from federal government bodies to these demands.
One of the MST’s requests is greater access to the CNH social program (public policy to encourage the withdrawal of driving licenses) for “women, youth and LGBTI+ people in the countryside”. The government’s response, through the National LGBTQIA+ Secretariat of the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship, indicates that the demand, although not initially foreseen, will be considered for 2024 planning.
In relation to education, the MST calls for the inclusion of the debate on gender, sexual education and diversity at all levels of education. The National LGBTQIA+ Secretariat responded that it agrees with the importance of the topic as a fundamental human right, but attributes the solution to the problem to the Ministry of Education (MEC). There is no response from the MEC to this demand.
In the health sector, the MST proposes the “training of popular health agents with a focus on LGBTI+ health in the countryside, waters and forests, to act as popular educators on the right to health, including sexual and reproductive rights, the adoption of safe practices and health promotion”.
The Ministry of Health responds that, through Fiocruz, the project “Health and prevention of violence against the rural LGBTI+ population” is underway, which aims to “deepen training in popular health education for members of the Coletivo LGBT Sem Terra sobre the right to health”.
In relation to promoting productive activities, the MST proposes specific credit policies for the LGBTI+ community in the countryside. Caixa Econômica Federal (CEF) indicates, in response to the demand, that it is studying the creation of actions aimed at this group by its People, Retail Business and Sustainability area.