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Uniting Food, Farm and Hotel Workers World-Wide

Brazil's CONTAG Pushes for Rural Development Built on Solidarity, Sustainability

Posted to the IUF website 18-Mar-2009

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Three thousand delegates from across Brazil took part in the 10th national Congress of the IUF-affiliated National Confederation of Workers in Agriculture (CONTAG), held in Brasilia from March 10-14. The Congress program and working documents reflected a long development from the grassroots to regional and national level, built around the central Congress theme of alternative rural development grounded in solidarity and sustainability. The Congress commits CONTAG to struggle for accelerating agrarian reform and greater support for family-based agriculture, rural employment. CONTAG will deepen its union education and organizing work and support for the struggles of women and young rural workers.

CONTAG stresses that particularly in the current economic crisis investment in and the development of family agriculture is one of the most effective means for fighting poverty. The union continues to struggle for the serious enforcement of existing legislation on environmental protection, limits on land ownership, a ban on the sale of land to foreign investors and quotas for sugar cane destined for ethanol production.

A national campaign against gender-related violence was launched at the beginning of the Congress. CONTAG's women�s department together with the university of Brasilia has surveyed women members and the results show a dramatic upsurge in violence against women. The federal Minister of Women�s Affairs addressed the Congress, promising active governments support for the campaign.

One of the most controversal issues at the congress concerned CONTAG's independence with respect to the national centers CUT, Fuerza Sindical and the CTB (Central dos Trabalhadores e Trabalhadoras do Brasil, founded in 2007). CONTAG has been affiliated to the CUT for 13 years, but after heated discussions and a secret ballot, a majority (1 441 against 1 109) voted for disaffiliation from the CUT.

Alberto Broch, a member of the IUF Executive Committee and Agricultural Workers Trade Group, was unanimously elected to succeed Manoel Jos� dos Santos as president; Alessandra da Costa Lunes suceeds Broch as vice-president and secretary for international relations. Carmen Foro continues as the coordinator of the National Commission of Rural Women Workers (and vice-president of CUT).