The Landless Rural Workers' Movement launched a campaign to support those affected by the floods in Rio Grande do Sul

The movement also lost furniture, souvenirs, and the production of rice and agro-ecological gardens

Brasil de Fato | São Paulo (SP) |
With five settlements submerged, MST launched a support campaign to support the families affected - Rosane Kich

Amid the most significant floods in the history of Rio Grande do Sul, which as of Monday (6) have killed 83 people, displaced 121,957, and left 19,368 homeless, the Landless Rural Workers' Movement (MST) is launching a solidarity campaign. The aim is to raise funds for actions to support the families affected in the various municipalities of Rio Grande do Sul.   

Among them are around 420 families from the MST itself who had to leave their homes quickly. The force of the waters submerged five of the movement's settlements in the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre.  

"With the loss of the structure of the houses, furniture, souvenirs, and the production of rice and agro-ecological gardens, where many rural workers had already replanted after the flood at the end of last year, the families are still in collective shelters," says a statement from the movement.  

The Integração Gaúcho (IRGA), Apolônio de Carvalho, and Conquista Nonoaiense settlements are in Eldorado do Sul. The Sino and Santa Rita de Cássia settlements are in the municipality of Nova Santa Rita. The towns are two of the worst affected by the floods, and humanitarian aid can only be accessed by helicopter.  

In Eldorado do Sul, at least half of the 40,000 inhabitants are now homeless. "The whole town is underwater," summarizes Maurício Roman, from the national coordination of the MST in Rio Grande do Sul.  

IRGA is home to the Porto Alegre Region Settled Workers' Cooperative (Cootap), responsible for much of the work that makes the MST the largest producer of organic rice in Latin America.  

"As far as the rice is concerned, we were still expecting to harvest it. We planted outside the agricultural window because we had already suffered the first flood in November. So we're in the process of harvesting these grains," Roman laments.  

"We're going through a tough time. We lost some machinery, some trucks. We managed to get some of it out on Thursday [2], and we didn't. They were essential machines for the movement, for rice production," says Maurício Roman, making it clear that although they estimate the loss of "a large structure," it is not yet possible to measure the seriousness of the damage. 

On Monday (6), Nelson Krupinski, from Cootap's marketing department, told Brasil de Fato that an acquaintance drove by on a jet ski in front of the cooperative and reported that the water was still reaching the second floor of the building.  

In a statement, the MST said, "The settlements of Nova Santa Rita, Viamão, and Tapes also suffered losses in their rice and vegetable production. In the interior, such as São Gabriel, Hulha Negra, Jóia, and the Central Region, the water covers the roads and crops."  

To contribute to the MST's solidarity campaign, click here. 

Edited by: Rodrigo Durão Coelho