CIWS: PEASANT LEAGUES IN NORTHEASTERN BRAZIL

Created: 6/1/1962

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

g- cs/s

NO. CI NO.Mw/ea

2

Intelligence Weekly Summary

RtliJlSEIIIPART

(Bid) UTI APHIS?

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE AGENCY

OFFICE OF CURRENT INTELLIGENCE

CURRENT INTELLIGENCE WEEKLY SUMMARY

PEASANT LEAGUES IN NCBTHJU6TOR)f 5

Peasant leagues, founded In Dy Coa-awalst and Socialist leaders to agitate for rural reforms, exist in Many parts of Brazil's lnpovenshed northeast. Tensions in this area have been heightened by rapid rises ln food prices over Ihe past several months. Francisco jullao, the aost widely known league leader, has recently begun cooperating with Brazils dlasldentparty, ahlcb is pro-Pelping and advocates revolutionary violence. Peaaant unreal is likely toignificant role ln Braall's congressional and state elections next October.

iv BRIEFS

PEASANT LEAGUES IN NORTHEASTERN BRAZIL

leagues, founded In the by Communist and Socialist loaders to(or rural reforms, exist in many parts of Brazil'snortheast. Tensions in this area have beenby rapid rises ln prices of several basic foods over the past feewhich have been accentuated byon the part of the more prosperous. Drought in some areas of the interior has caused thousands of agriculturaland their families to abandon their farms and sank work and food in the towns. Hunger riots have broken out, and there has been some looting of food stores.

The Northeast

Northeastern Brazil, an aresquare milesopulation ofs rivaled In Lai in Anencaepressed area only by Bolivia and Haiti. Per capita income is estimated at loss0 annually, one third af thefor Brazilhole. In Piaui, the most depressed state, annual Income Is onlyollars per caplta--less than that of Communist China.

arrow humid belt along tbe coast, land Is devoted to sugar cane production but with considerably leas efficiency than in other commercial sugar raising areas ln Brazil or Cane planting, with low labor productivity, payswages. Urban growth and population increases, together with little Industrial expansioncarcity of foodhave led to extremely high food prices lo relation to wag**.

Most of the interior is an area of periodic drought. This is the area whichhave long had difficulty ln controlling and which Is the setting of Brazil's best-Known literary work. Rebellion in thefactual account of a fanatic who led

a rebellion for many years In the latter part of the lath century.

Although normal annual rainfall ln the Interior is aboutaches, it occurs ln cloudbursts which limit its utility. For many years the eeonoary consisted mainly of cattle-raisingubsistence level. This is still one of the two most important sources of livelihood ln the area,ardy variety of cattle has been developed which can feed on nothing but cactus. There hasradual ohift, toward raising cattLe for export to the coastal cities,

and with it hasradual concentration in landownershlp.

Cotton has been Introducedeading camh crop and is the region's mostmoney crop. Cotton, however, requires considerably more labor than the previous all-cattle economy anda much higher dogrcc 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 tbe subsistence level.

The Peasant Leagues

The economic dislocations of8 droughtew impetus for ImprovingIn the area, and the peasant leagues have gained strength. In tho state of Paraiba theyilitant popular organization. Elsewhere, however, the leagues are aa yet badlyand some are inactive, most are in tha sugar zone,maller number have been founded ln the area of periodic drought. Membership ranges widely fromer league, andare usually ansrssed0 cents monthly for dues.

1 Juno5 of 10

Theavo emphasized legal aid for rural workers,nd mmall landholders, and many of the part-timeare sale* to be lawyers who are engaging ln league activity with an eye to afuture. Legal advice for small landboldera 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 some years of living and raising crops on lt, also require legal help.

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

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

leagues ln Paraiba

The largest number ofleagues Is in the state of Pernambuco, but those showing most activity In tho past ten months are ln the state of These leagues have achieved widespreadthat of the conservative Social Democraticat least the benevolentof the governor( but they are opposed by largeand army elements.

June 62

ARTICLES

of 10

The subversive potential of the Paraiba leagues wasIn1 when an army searcharm near Sape uncovered Communist party propaganda as well as literature on agrarian reformumberallber pistols with ammunition. The farm belongedeasant league leader, and the amy's discovery appears to have heightened tensions in the area. In1 the president of the peasant league of Sap* was seriously wounded, andpril tbe acting killed by unidentified gunmen. Preliminaryindicates that the gunmenhired by members of the 'Syndicate ofnof landlords.

In early April army units were reported posted on all roads leading from the interior of the states of Paraiba,Rio Grande do Norte, Serglpe. and Plaui. The army announced officially that the roadblocks were for tbeof controlling smuggling, but the army maneuver wasdesigned to find arms caches in peasant hands and tocheduled aassby rural workers aroused overpril killing. Peasant league leaders Inapital city were placed under house arrest, and one was apparently secretly deportedeighboring state.

The two-sided nature of possible violence was Indicated earlier thla year when the managerarge ranch ln Paraiba and one of his assistants mere killed *lih knives and hoes. The Paraiba governor appears to be sympathetic to the rural workers, however, and In early Hayrotest to President Goulart againat prolonged occupation of his state by the army, "which continues to occupy the streets and fields as If the solution of the crisis depended on the speed of their triggers."

Tho popularity of the Sape league may derive from th* numerous welfare services which It has provided for its members. At least prior to theof Its leader la April, ltrimary school for children of numbers and offered medical and dental care as well as legal assistance to members and their families. In addition to paying the fees of onoone physician, and two dentistsull-time basis, the Sape league used the services ofhysicians and several lawyersart-time basis.

The program of the Sape league specially urges the loserlng of land rental and costa and tho alleviation of the requirement made on the peasants to work two or threeeek for the landowner for aboutay. The Sape league, which covers an area of sisal, sugar, pineapple, and cotton holdings, collected the equivalentonth from its members during the winter and0 loonth during the months which yielded good crops. Itsla.

June 62

ARTICLES

7 of 10

Tho October ElectIons

The Increasing problem presented by peasant unrest, whether mobilized by peasant leagues or other organlzatlone, is likely toignificant role neat October ln congrea-slonal and municipal elections throughout the area and ln slmultaneous gubernatorial elections scheduled ln 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 are literate to qualify for voting.

Nevertheless, rural reform is likely toampaign Three0 resulted in active reform programs and relative peace In two states--Rlo Grande do Norte and Alagoas--whlle the lndeclslveness of Governor Gondim in Paraiba has probably contrlbutnd to the repeated threats of widespread violence there, moreover, Francisco Juliao probably hag sufficient strength In his home state of Pernambuco to achieve election as federal deputy and thusational forum for agitation for the peasant leagues.

June 62

ARTICLES

8 of 10

Original document.

Comment about this article or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA