Poverty eradication has been on the global development agenda since the birth of development itself. Unfortunately for the impoverished, the agenda of the neoliberal and transnational classes are not as concerned with poverty eradication as they are with capital and industry. This means that the needs of the citizens, poor citizens in particular, get put on the back burner in the name of economic growth and free market policy. In Latin America, 40% of the population is categorized as poor, and in Brazil the extreme level of disparity and the states refusal to adequately address it has led to the formation of a Landless Workers Movement which calls itself the MST (Leiva, 2008). The MST believe that agrarian reform and redistribution of wealth and power are the solution for Brazil's poverty woes, and that the current top-down, or trickle down policies are not solutions but are in fact a part of the problem. The purpose of this case study will be to not only get a better understanding of the MST but to also find out how, or even if its results can be duplicated in other third world countries.
Identifying the problem
the general problem is poverty, but under the surface there are many different elements at work. The driving force behind it all is the most important because identifying and understanding it will make it easier to diagnose, and from the research it is clear that the locomotive behind the poverty in Brazil is capitalism and its sidekick, consumptionism. As most probably already know 20% of the worlds population accounts for over 85% of total private consumption expenditures (UNDP, 1998). In Brazil, 10% of the population owns 75 percent of the nations wealth, to bring it even closer into perspective 0.1% ...
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.... Fernando Leiva writes, “Latin American policies on poverty are tricky because they must be designed without being perceived as a threat to the profit rate of domestic conglomerates and transnational capital; they cannot restrict capital mobility, flexible labour markets, or upset stable expectations for investors” (2008). It is against this mighty agenda that the MST fights and yet the MST has proven itself mighty in its own respect, with its ambitious, almost ridiculous demands. But the neoliberal capitalists need for stability and predictability, has been and must continue to be overpowered by the waves of change, if there should be any hope of a poverty free Brazil. As one MST advocate was quoted to have said, “there can be no progress as long as the demands are being deemed acceptable according to the standards of the establishment” (Branford and Rocha, 2002).
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