CIWR: PEASANT LEAGUES IN NORTHEASTERN BRAZIL

Created: 6/1/1962

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Intelligence Weekly Review

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CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY Off ICE Of CURRENT INUUIGENCE

SECRET

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PEASANT LEAGUES TH NORTH PASTERN S

Peasant leagues, founded la the bySocialist laadara to agitate for rural raforaa.

la bsdjt parts of Brasll's Impoverished northeast Taaaloras In tbis areabeen heightened by rapid rises la food prices over tbe past aevsral Franc leco Jullao.et widely known laague leader, has recently begunvlth Braall'a dissident Conunlat party, which ls pro-Pelplag and advocates revolutionary violence. unrest is llksly toignificant role ln Brasll's coogresslooal snd state elections next October.

CURRENT INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY REVIEW

PEASANT LEAGUES IN NORTHEASTERN BRAZIL

leagues, founded in they Communist and Socialist leaders tofor rural reforms, exist in aany parts of Brazil'snortheast. Tensions In thla area have beenby rapid rises ln prices of several basic foods over tho past fewwhich have been accentuated byon the part of the nore prosperous. Drought ln some areas of the interior haa caused thousands of agriculturaland their families to abandon their farms and seek work and food ln tha towns, itunser riots have broken out, and there has been some Looting of food stores.

The Northeast

northeastern Brasll, an aresquare milesopulations rivaled ln Latin Americaepressed area only by Bolivia and Haiti. Per capita Income ls estlaatted at leaa0 snaually, one third of thefor Brazilhole. In Plaul, the moBt depressed state, annual income Isollars perthan that of Comnunlst China.

arrow huald belt along the coaat. land la devoted to augar cane production but with considerably leaa efficiency than ln other commercial augar raising areas in Brar.il or Cane planting, with low labor productivity, payswages. Urban growth and population Increases, together with little industrial expansioncarcity of foodhavo led to extremely high food prlcts in relation lo wages.

Moat of the Interiorarea of periodicls the area whichhave long hadcontrolling and whichsetting of Brazil'sliterary work,anatic who

a rebellion for aany years in the latter part ofh ceatury.

Although norma1 annual rainfall ln the interior ls aboutnches, it occurs in cloudbursts which Halt Its utility. For many years the economy consisted mainly of cattle-rainingubsistence level. This is still one of the two moat important sources of livelihood in the area,ardy variety of cattle has baen developed which can feed on nothing but cactus. There hasradual shift,toward raising cattle for export to the coastal cities, and with it hasradual concentration ln landownershlp.

Cotton has been Introducedeading cash crop and ls the region's mostmoney crop. Cotton, however, requires considerablylabor than the prevloua all-cattle economy anduch higher degree of food cultivation. This haa increased the area'sto severe drought. When drought8oss of up to half the interior's footf supplies, thousands of rural workers flooded the coastal zones and depressed the living standards of the residentwere already cloae to the aubalstence level.

The FVasant Leagueh

The economic dislocations of8 droughtew 1sp*tua for improvingIn the area, and tbe peasant leagues have gained strength. In the state of Paraiba theyilitant popular organ Ira tion. Elsewhere, howevor, the leagues are as yet badl and some are Inactive. Host are ln the sugar zone,maller number have been founded ln the area of periodic drought. membership ranges widely fromer league, andare usually0 cents monthly for dues.

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CUSJigNT INT ELL1GEKCE WEEKLY KEVIEW

l'Ji:bave emphaalzird legal aid for rural workers, tenants, and small landholders, and aany of the part-tlae or-ganlxere are said to be lawyers who are engaging ln league activity with an eye to afuture. Legal advice for snail landholders has particular importance ln Brazil, since only an estimated one percent of land titles are clearly valid. Squatters. who can acquire legal titlelot of land after son* years of living and raising crops on It. also require legal help.

A Brazilian magazine of national circulation highlighted ths laportance of legal services for the rural poor ln an account aeveral south* agoenant farawr'a problems with bla Th* tenant objectedummary doubling of hla rent.

Theyear-old son and hla friends thereupon visited tbe tenant,unting "game" with the tenant's small son which ended ln shooting hla to death. Legal servicesla the area resulted ln liberty for tbe landlord's son and prison, beatings, and suicide for the tenant.

leagues ln Paraiba

Tho largest number ofleagues Is In tha Stat* of Pernambuco, but those showingactivity ln tbe past ten month* are ln tbe state of These league* bar* achlevad widespread support--in-cludlng that of the conaervatlwe Social Democratic party--and at least the benevolentof tbe governor, but they are opposed by largeand army eleaent*.

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CURRENT INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY REVIEW

subversive potential of the Paraiba leagues waslo1 when an amy searcharm near Sape uncovered Communist party propaganda a? well as literature on agrarian reformumberallber pistols with aamvonltlon. The firs belongedeasant league leader, and the urmy's discovery appears to have heightened tensions ln the area. In1 the president of the peasant league of Sape was seriously wounded, andpril the sctlngwas killed by unidentified gunroun. Preliminary invesligi-tlon Indicate? that the gunaen were hired by members of the "Syndicate of Death."of landlords.

In early April army units were reported posted on all roads leading from the interior of the states of Paraiba. Per-nanbuco, Hlo Grande do Norte. Scrglpe and Fiaul. The army announced officially that tha roadblocks were for th^ot controlling smuggl in(t. but the army maneuver wasdesigned to find arms caches In peasant hinds and to preventscheduled massby rural workers aroused over pril killing. Peasant league leaders ina capital city awre placed uixiFr house arret t. and ore wsa apparently secretly deportedeighboring state.

The two-sided nature of possible violence was Indicated earlier this year shea the managerarge ranch in Paraiba and one of his assistants vere killed with kntvee and hoes Tbeovernor appears to be sympathetic to the rural workers, hoaever. and ln early Kay rotest to President Goulart against prolonged occupation ol his state by the army, "which continues to occupy the streets and fielda as if the solution of the crisis depended on the speed of their triggers."

The popularity of the Sape league may derive from the numerous welfare services which tt has provided for Its membera. At least prior to theof lta leader in April, ttrimary school for children of members and offered medical and dental care as well as legal assistance to members and their families. In addition to paying the fees of oneone physician and two dentistsull-time basis, the Sape league used the services of IS physicians and several lawyersart-time basis.

The program of the Sape league specially urgea the lowering of land rental and costa and the alleviation of the requirement made on the peasants to work two or threeeek for the landowner for aboutay. The Sape league, ahich covers an area of sisal, sugar, pineapple, and cotton holdings, collected the equivalent0onth from its members during the winter and0onth during the months which yielded good crops, lisle.

MXW.T

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CURRENT INTELLIGENCE WEfcKLY REVIEW

Tin' October Elections

The increasing problem preeenied by peasant unreal,mobilised by peasant leagues or other organisations, is likely toignificant role next October lnand municipal elections throughout the area and In simultaneous gubernatorial elections scheduled ln five northeastern states. mill limit the direct voting strength of league members. One loader estimates, for example, that onlyercent of league mesbers In his state areliterateor voting.

Nevertheleaa. rural reform Is likely toampaign Three0 resulted in active reform programs and relative peace lo twoGrande do Norte aad Alagoas--while the indcclsiveness of Governor Go mils In Paraiba has probably contributed to the repeated threats of widespread violence there, moreover, Francisco Jullao probably haa sufficient strength in his home state of Pernambuco to achieve election

se federal deputy and thus

ational forum for

agllntlon for the peasant leagues.

TO!' 3CCRET

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