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Cese supports group mobilization for the Cry of Artisanal Fishing

Photo: @imatheusalves

Between 21 and 25 November, more than 600 artisanal fishermen and women set out from various points, crossing the country on their way to Brasilia to lobby for their rights. Unhappy with the exclusionary policies and environmental degradation that directly affect traditional communities’ ways of life, the movements took their discontent out onto the streets.  The lobbying agenda of these fishermen and women included a reduction in the bureaucracy required to re-register for the Unemployment Benefit for Artisanal Fishermen and Women, and a rejection of the quarterly proof of life that the National Institute of Social Security (Instituto Nacional do Seguro Social: INSS) requires of workers, in addition to demands for environmental protection measures.

“The Cry of Artisanal Fishing was a great act promoted by artisanal fishermen and women who do not agree with this exclusionary model, with the entire political situation we are experiencing in Brazil.  We, artisanal fishermen and women, do not agree with this capitalist model, with these rights violations.  The Cry of Artisanal Fishing is a cry for rights, for our freedom.  It’s a cry for liberation,” declared Josana Pinto, from the National Coordination Team of the Movement of Artisanal Fishermen and Women (Movimento dos Pescadores e Pescadoras Artesanais: MPP), the organization that promoted the mobilization.

Coming from different parts of the country, the fishermen and women raised their voices to make their denunciations.  “The fishermen and women took with them their willingness to fight, their desire to cry out for their rights and to make so many denunciations.  To denounce this capitalist model that has arrived in our territories, that has brought destruction and death to our territories.  It has brought rights violations to traditional communities,” she added.

The political lobbying agenda was intense: the movements marched to the National Congress and held an audience with the Parliamentary Commission for Human Rights, attended by the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (Ministério Público Federal: MPF), the Federal Public Defender’s Office (Defensoria Pública da União: DPU) and a representative of the National Employment System (Sistema Nacional de Emprego: SINE). The movement’s agenda was presented at this event.  An agenda was also coordinated with the INSS to deal with bureaucracy and the Unemployment Benefit for Artisanal Fishermen and Women. “Our denunciations go beyond the national re-registration, which threatens our autonomy,” Josana stressed, pointing out the importance of dialogue with the Federal Government to reduce the impact of bureaucracy that affects this category’s income.

@imatheusalves

“At this time, the main aim of our cry is for us, artisanal fishermen and women, to strengthen our collective struggle.  Because we are aware that by strengthening the struggle, we will continue to guarantee our rights,” Josana asserted.  The movement occupied both the streets of Brasilia and social media, which reverberated with their agenda and demands, providing visibility to an agenda the public knows little about.

Partnership – the partnership with CESE enabled artisanal fishermen and women from the São Francisco River, in the North of Minas Gerais, to travel to Brasilia, in addition to their allies and supporters of the movement, particularly its leaders.  “CESE has been a great partner, a huge ally of ours, because it contributed such a lot, so that our activism could reach Brasilia and leave a message for Brazil.  We thank you so much for this support, for all this camaraderie, for the trust, for supporting us at this time and helping our leaders to participate in this historical moment, which is, which was, and which will continue to be, the Cry of Artisanal Fishing,” said the coordinator.

As well as talking about rights, the Cry of Artisanal Fishing also touched on significant environmental impacts and the degradation of the rivers and the seas.  On the streets, they remembered the oil spill that hit the coast of Northeast Brazil, leading to socio-environmental damage that has still not been reversed.  The fishermen and women from Rio de Janeiro also took to the streets to reflect about the advance of the state’s fossil fuel industry and how this affects marine fauna. They also argued for food sovereignty and democracy.

Joana noted that, during the Cry, the movement emphasized the environmental agenda: “We denounced many things and stressed that the environment needs help. We need to preserve our forests, our rivers and to get rid of the mining companies that pollute our rivers, that kill people.  We are also talking about the pesticides that poison us and our food. So we had a lot to denounce, against this capitalist model and against all these setbacks.”

@imatheusalves

“We also stated very strongly that we need to have security in our territories.  Having security in our territories means eating well, living well, taking care of our common house.  So this is good living and we are concerned about our environment. We need to carry on having this expectation that better days will come and that the struggle cannot stop,” she concluded.