Brazil: campesino protesters occupy banks

Some 3,000 campesinos, including children and seniors, some with musical instruments, staged sit-ins on June 26 in the states of Goiás, Bahía and Piauí at 18 branches of Brazil's two largest state-owned banks, the Banco do Brasil and the Caixa Económica Federal. The day-long protest, organized by the Popular Campesino Movement (MCP), targeted budget cuts in the government's popular low-income housing program, My House My Life; MCP leaders said 950 campesino families had been dropped from My House My Life's National Rural Habitation Program (PNHR). The group demanded an increase in housing construction for the rest of this year, payment for projects already in progress, and improvements in the PNHR for next year. "The campesino families are struggling for a dignified life and don't accept having to wait more time for reform, enlargement [of the program] and construction of housing," the MCP said in a statement. "Waiting longer means increasing the exodus from the countryside and increasing the problems of rural life."

The protesters left the banks at the end of the day after the Caixa—which administers My House My Life, with investment from the government and from private investors–promised to include the MCP in the PNHR program and to fund the projects already started, with the possibility of constructing 1,000 new housing units in the three states. The bank also agreed to discuss the MCP's reform proposals. (Jornal Opção, Goiânia, June 26; Adital, Brazil, July 26, June 27)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, July 6.