Stora Enso lies and prosecution of MST activists

The image of Via Campesina and MST as violent is wide-spread and recurrent in Brazilian media. Often activists are described as armed and violent, even when the official police reports and witness statements after the event proves the opposite.

Recently the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Samonat was sucked into this gossip carousel when they told that MST, at a meeting with Stora Enso, had threatened the company with violence and murder unless the eucalyptus plantation ceased. This was simply a lie. I who had attended the meeting (and have it all taped) can confirm that MST not to said anything close to this. After having contacted the newspaper and sent the recording to them they were forced  to publish a correction.

But the damage is already done and it is this media logic that strikes against the social movements in Brazil right now. The steady stream of accusations and charges against activists of the MST and Via Campesina attaches itself to the public retina and the social movements gest increasingly isolated.

When I talked to one of the MST’s lawyers a few weeks ago, I realized how few of the criminal investigation brought against MST activists led to any convictions. Activists acquitted almost always. The MST-lawyer did not believe that the Via Campesina women would be sentenced when the evidence provided in this case was weak. I’m no lawyer and can not really judge that. Anyway, one might wonder why so much time and resources are spent on these investigations as they almost never lead to any convictions? Why prosecute if you do not have proof?

My own explanation is that it works in the media. Every time the MST, or Via Campesina mentioned can reporters say “The women, who were charged with burglary and attempted murder” or “MST, which is currently investigated for embezzlement” and so on.

The allegations raised often takes several years to examine and is a simple way to link the movements with illegal and violent activities. And in the long run MST and Via Campesina becomes more and more isolated because of this. Even if newspapers occasionally publish a correction.

from email by Max da Rocha, Friends of MST Sweden

One of the 69 injured female activists during the occupation of Stora Enso plantation

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