CIWS: PEASANT LEAGUES IN NORTHEASTERN BRAZIL

Created: 6/1/1962

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Current Intelligence Weekly Summary

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY I

office of current intelligence

[bin lo.]]

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PEASANT LEAGUES IN NORTHEASTERN BRAZIL

leagues, founded in they Communist and Socialist leader* tofor rural reforms, exist In many part* of Brazil'*northeast. Tensions in thl* area have beenby rapid rlaea In price* of several basic foods over tbe past fev mootbs--rIses vhlch have been accentuated byon the part of tba more prosperous. Drought In some areas of the Interior has caused thousands of agriculturaland their families to abandon their farms and seek work and food in the towns. Hunger riots have broken out, and there has been some looting of food stores.

The Northeast

Northeasternn areaquare milesopulations rivaled In Latin Americaepressed area only by Bolivia aad Haiti. Per capita income is estimated at less0 annually, on* third of th*for Brazilhole, la Piaui. the most depressed state, annual Income Is onlyollars perhan that of Communist China.

arrow humid belt along the coast, landevoted to sugar cane production but with considerably less efficiency than In other commercial sugar raising areas In Brazil or Cane planting, with low labor productivity, payswages. Urban growth and population lncreasea, together with little industrial expansioncarcity of foodhave led to extremely high food priceselation to wages.

Host of the Interior Is an area of periodic drought. This Is the area whichhave long had difficulty in controlling and which is the setting of Brazil's best-knovn literary work, Hebeon in the Back 1ands--the factual account of a fanatic who led

a rebellion for many years in the latter part ofh century.

Although normal annual rainfall In the interior is aboutnches, it occurs in cloudbursts which limit its utility. Tor many years tho economy consisted mainly of cattle-raisingubsistence level. This is still one of the two most Important sources of livelihood In the area,ardy variety of cattle has been developed which can feed on nothing but cactus. There hasradual shift, toward raising cottle for export to the coastal cities, and with it hasradual concentration in landownershlp.

Cotton has been introducedoading cash crop and is the region's mostmoney crop. Cotton, however, requires considerably more labor than the previous all-cattle economy anda much higher degree of food cultivation. This has increased the area'sto severe drought. When drought8oss of up to half the interior's food supplies, thousands of rural workers flooded the coastal zones and depressed the living standards of the residentwere already close to the subsistence level.

The Peasant Leagues

The economic dislocations of8 droughtew Impetus for improvingin the area, and the peasant leagues have gained strength. In the state of Paraiba theyilitant popular organization. Elsewhere, however, the leagues are as yet badlyand some are Inactive. Most are In the sugar zone,maller number have been founded in the area of periodic drought. Membership ranges widely fromer league, andare usually0 cents monthly for dues.

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The league* have emphasized legal aid for rural workers, tenants, and small landholders, and many of the part-timeare aald to be lawyers who are engaging In league activity with an eve to afuture. Legal advice for small landholders haa particular Importance In Brazil, since only an estimated on* percent of land title* are clearly valid. Squatters, who can acquire legal titlelot of land after some years of Living and raising crops on it. also require legal help.

A Brazilian magazine of national circulation highlighted the Importance of legal aervlces for the rural poor In an account several months agoenant farmer's problem* with his The tenant objectedummary doubling of his rent.

Theyear-old son and his friends thereupon visited tho tenant,untingith the tenant's small son which ended in shooting him to death. Legal servicesin the area resulted la liberty for tbe landlord's son and prison, beatings, and suicide for the tenant.

Leagues In Paraiba

The largest number ofleagues is in the state of Pernanbuco, but those showing most activity In the past ten month* are In tbe state of These leagues have achieved widespread support--ln-cludlng that of the conservative Social Democratic party--and at least the benevolentof the governor, but they are opposed by largeand army elements.

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The subversive potential of the Paraiba leagues wasIn1 when an army searcharm near Sap* uncovered Coaaninlst party propaganda aa well as literature on agrarian reformumberaliber pistols with ammunition. The farm belongedeasant league leader, and the army's discovery appears to have heightened tensions in the area. In1 the president of the peasant league of Sane was seriously wounded, andpril the actingwas killed by unidentified gunmen. PreliminaryLndicatea that the gunmen were hired by members of the "Syndicate ofnof landlords.

In early April army unitsreported posted on all roads leading from the Interior of the States of Paraiba. Rio Grande do Korte, Serglpe, and Piaul. The army announced officially that tha roadblocks were for theof controlling snuggling, but the army maneuver wasdesigned to find armm caches in peasant hands and to preventcheduled massby rural workers aroused overpril killing. Peasant league leaders in Paral-ba's capital city were placed uncer house arreat, and one was apparently secretly deportedeighboring state.

The two-aided nature of possible violence was Indicated earlier this year when the manaarge ranch in Paraiba and one of hla assistants were killed with knives and hoea. The Paraiba governor appears to be sympathetic to the rural workers, however, and in early Hayrotest to President Goulart against prolonged occupation of hla atate by the army, "shlcfa continues to occupy the atreets and fields aa If the solution of the crisis depended on lhe speed of their triggers."

The popularity of the Sape league may derive from the numerous welfare services which It has provided for Ha members. At least prior to theof Its leader in April, itrimary school for children of members and offered medical and dental care as well as legal assistance tu members and their families. In addition to paying the fees of oneone physician, and two dentist*ull-time basis, the Sap* league used the services ofhyalclans and aeveral lawyersart-time basis.

The program of the Sape league specially urges the lowering of land rental and costs and the alleviation of tbe requirement made on the peasanta lo work two or threeeek for the landowner for aboutay. The Sape league, which covers an area of slaal, sugar, pineapple, and cotton holdings, collected the equivalent0onth from its we libera during the winter and0onth during the months which yielded good crops. Itsis.

Francisco Julian

Pro-Communist Franciscostate deputy inStale, which ha* long been th* cultural and economic center of the northeast--ls the most widely known league leader. He reportedly achieved his reputation by volunteeringawyer to defend theof the leaguesther lawyers refused to take the caac. To protect his personal safety in an arealandowners traditionally lave personally loyal gunmen, ue Is reported to haveist ofrominent landholderstold hla follower*, "If anything should happen toant to meet them all in hell."

Juliao has notembership In the Brazilian

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Communist party, but he has repeatedly avowed his admiration for Fidel Castro and Mao Tse-tung. Jullao visited Pelplng1 aad bas visited Cuba three times la the past year. Bis wife and two daughters visited China earlier thla year, and his daughters bow have in school In Moscow. He has been criticised by Brazilian Communists for advocatingwhen the party's policy is to seek control through peaceful means. The Communists have nevertheless tended towith him. One of the delegates to the International Communist Agricultural Workers' Conference In Bulgaria In Aprileasant league leader; the otherember of the Rural Commission of theor pro-Moscow Brazilian Communist party.

The dissident orCommunist party of Brazil, which advocates violenceevolutionary line, la evidently also lntereated in the peasant leagues and seeking to Increase its influence within them. Jullao and dlasldent Communist leadrrs have apparently agreed to Join forces to advocateactivity, and the two key dissident leaders reportedly went to Cuba early in May at

Juliao's instigation to receive instruction in revolutionary techniques.

Jullao's leadership isby some Important league leaders. Assls Lemoa, president of the Peasant Leagueof Paraiba, recently stated that Jullao has no Influence In the Paraiba leagues and no following among the members there. He aald that hisIs Independent and receives no support or counsel from Jullao or anybody else.

The October Elections

The increasing problem presented by peasant unrest, whether mobilized by peasant leagues or other organizations, is likely loignificant role next October inand municipal elections throughout the area and in simultaneous gubernatorial election* scheduled in five northeastern states. will limit the direct voting strength of league members. One leader estimates, for example, that onlyercent of league members In his State- areliterate to qualify for voting.

Nevertheless, rural reform Is likely toampaign Three0 resulted In active reform programs and relative peace in two atatea--Rlo Grande do Norte andthe lndecisivenesa of Governor Condlm In Paraiba has probably contributed to the repeated threats of widespread violence there. Moreover, Francisco Jullao probably has sufficient strength in hla home state of Pernambuco to achieve election as federal deputy and thusational forum for agitation for the peasant leagues.

1 June 62

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