By Jakob Stein
For over fifteen years the peasants of the Renato Nathan Revolutionary Area have been fighting for electricity and have finally achieved this goal. The fight for electricity is part of the Agrarian Revolution in the region, allowing peasant families to increase production, raise their standard of living, and provide material support for other peasants to conquer land.
Peasants began to occupy land previously usurped by the Utinga Leão Power Plant in 2003, and over the years the movement grew larger and more militant. In 2009, the power plant tried to illegally evict families from the region, but the farmers, along with leadership from the League of Poor Peasants (LCP) in Messias – Alagoas, heroically resisted Utinga while others were abandoning their land.
From 2012 to 2015 the region expanded to cover the entire region abandoned by Utinga; they also renamed it the “Renato Nathan Revolutionary Area,” in commemoration of a hero in the struggle for land who was murdered by landowners in Rondônia. They also built a masonry headquarters, which allowed them to build stable housing in large batches. A People’s Court was held, in which certificates of possession were granted to peasant families who worked on the land.
For years the region was promised electricity to no avail, but in April 2018 the peasants held a large demonstration in Messias, marching through the city and ultimately ending outside of city hall. Throughout the march they attracted the support of many people in the city, as well as revolutionary peasants from other areas, forcing the city to form a commission of councilmen to approve the electricity project.
Recently the transformer poles and transmission cables were finally installed, allowing a continuous flow of electric power to the homes of the peasant families of the region. The LCP has planed a commemoration for this historic achievement on June 12, as well as a tribute to the life of Jose Adeilton, a leader who was instrumental in strategizing the fight for electricity and died before that goal was finally realized.
Even with this victory, the fight for land is not over, as Bolsonaro has already shown himself to be a vicious opponent of the movement and an ally of the large landowners. On April 29, Bolsonaro announced his intentions to send a bill to Congress, which exempts landowners from punishment when they murder landless peasants occupying abandoned lands and classifies the struggle for land as a terrorist movement.
The LCP responded to Bolsonaro fiercely: “The reaction thinks it will always defeat the masses, but the peasants have learned much and will fight, not according to the provocation of their sworn enemies, but in their own way, in their own manner, and at the moment that best suits them they will inevitably give their fight, arms in hand. And for the peasants, to survive, is to conquer a piece of land to work on!”