Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT)
( 1991 , Brésil )

...for their dedicated campaigning for social justice and the observance of human rights for small farmers and the landless in Brazil.

We are witness to our people's creativity in the search for alternatives and their wanting to relate lovingly to the land. Because for them land is not a piece of merchandise...


The Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) has distinguished itself for its struggle in the name of social justice and human rights in the Brazilian countryside. CPT offers advise and support to small farmers and the landless, addressing the problems of unjust land distribution and violence. Its members contribute to the building of a real democracy through genuine land reform, respect of the environment and help the peasants organise themselves to get their voice heard. Liberation theology is a key inspiration for CPT, but its staff work on an ecumenical basis.

Contact

Comissão Pastoral Da Terra
Rua 19, No 35, 10 Andar, Edificio dom Abec centro, Goiania Goias
CEP: 74030 – 090
BRAZIL

http://www.cptnacional.org.br/

Biography

Founded in 1975 to address the problems of unjust land distribution and violence in the countryside in Brazil, CPT’s specific objectives are to interlink, advise and support all those involved in the service of landless workers and peasants to organise themselves and exercise basic rights such as those to land, freedom, justice; to contribute to the building of a real democracy through genuine land reform, respecting the environment.

Although CPT was founded as and remains a Roman Catholic institution, linked to the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, it has also always had an ecumenical basis and works especially closely with the Lutheran Church, two ministers of which sit on its Executive Board. Liberation theology is a key inspiration for CPT workers, to the development of which they have also greatly contributed.

CPT is organised into a National Secretariat in Goiania and has branches spread over 20 states. It has a paid staff of 70 and there are about 40,000 volunteers, including nearly 1,000 church ministers and priests. Since its inception, CPT has helped to organise more than 350 rural unions and is advising more than 500. Lawyers associated with CPT have been involved in thousands of court cases in favour of rural workers. Up to the early 1990s, action through CPT had helped more than 150,000 familie …

Founded in 1975 to address the problems of unjust land distribution and violence in the countryside in Brazil, CPT’s specific objectives are to interlink, advise and support all those involved in the service of landless workers and peasants to organise themselves and exercise basic rights such as those to land, freedom, justice; to contribute to the building of a real democracy through genuine land reform, respecting the environment.

Although CPT was founded as and remains a Roman Catholic institution, linked to the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops, it has also always had an ecumenical basis and works especially closely with the Lutheran Church, two ministers of which sit on its Executive Board. Liberation theology is a key inspiration for CPT workers, to the development of which they have also greatly contributed.

CPT is organised into a National Secretariat in Goiania and has branches spread over 20 states. It has a paid staff of 70 and there are about 40,000 volunteers, including nearly 1,000 church ministers and priests. Since its inception, CPT has helped to organise more than 350 rural unions and is advising more than 500. Lawyers associated with CPT have been involved in thousands of court cases in favour of rural workers. Up to the early 1990s, action through CPT had helped more than 150,000 families gain access to about 10 million hectares of land.

In 1983 CPT was a founder of the National Campaign of Land Reform. In 1985 the new civilian government of José Sarney passed a National Plan of Agrarian Reform with radical proposals for the expropriation and redistribution of land that was not ‘fulfilling its social function’. But the land reform law has been watered down and timidly enforced.

Other CPT activities have included:

  • Support for sustainable development projects;
  • A unique database about land-inspired human rights violations in Brazil;
  • Popular education and mobilisation, including a mass signature campaign and pilgrimages in favour of land reform;
  • Two alternative tribunals highlighting the crimes of big landowners
  • Support for the encampment and settlement of landless peasants on unproductive land.

Experience has shown that only the mobilisation of the rural poor – as fostered in Brazil by CPT and the Movement of Landless Workers, MST (also a 1991 Right Livelihood Award recipient) – holds out any real prospect of change against the entrenched landowning elite.

 
 

FAQ about CPT

Questions asked in 2005
answered by Vilmar Schneider

1. Do you think CPT has reached the goals it set 30 years ago?

CPT has played a decisive role when it comes to promoting the Brazilian farmers’ access to land, water and rights.

2. How is CPT’s catholic background mirrored in its work?

Elements of Christian ethics, within the context of liberation theology and, especially, the theology of the land (“Teologia da Terra”), offer the principal lines for CPT and they also influence our working methods.

3. Was the killing of Dorothy Strang in 2005 an indication that land conflicts have become more violent in Brazil?

The land conflict is spreading and it is especially intense within the areas where the model of mono-cultural export agriculture is expanding. This model has accelerated the violence in the central and northern regions of Brazil. The assassination of Dorothy Strang has to be seen in this context.

4. What is CPT’s position on settlements in the Amazon rainforest and indigenous land rights in the Amazon?

The CPT doesn’t favour an implementation of the Agrarian Reform in the Amazon. It’s important that this region receive an Agrarian Reform that takes into consideration the needs of the local actors. This would of course include the indigenous people and their land.

5. What effect has the Right Livelihood Award had on your work?

The Right Livelihood Award represents an important recognition for the work of CPT and it also serves as a kind of protection against repression within Brazil. The award has directed international attention towards the grave conflicts and injustices taking place in the Brazilian countryside, but also towards the solution of this serious situation.

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