At an ecumenical conference which aims to generate a new vision of the world's financial and economic system, one of the leaders of a movement in Brazil that organizes rural landless workers said a revival of mass popular movements is needed to address the basic needs of workers.
Joao Pedro Stedile of Brazil's National Movement of Landless Rural Workers (Movimento Dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra) said in an interview published Tuesday by the World Council of Reformed Churches that the problems facing people include the search for food, land, jobs, housing and education.
Stedile is one of the leaders of the group, which is known for organizing groups of workers with families to occupy unused fertile land with the aim of putting it to use. The group, which seeks land reform in Brazil has faced legal repercussions and evictions resulting from its practices.
"The problem is the lack of a wider mass basis. Social movements are being criminalized everywhere in the world," he said.
"Our hope is that soon we will witness a revival of the mass movements and that these movements, in turn, will put the real problems of the people on the agenda."
Stedile is participating in the September 29 - October 5 Global Ecumenical Conference on a New International Financial and Economic Architecture in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The conference was initiated by the WCRC and is being organized in partnership with the World Council of Churches and the Council for World MIssion.
Stedile said that instead of limiting themselves to converging documents and statements, "we need to have a stronger impact in the current correlation of forces and that can only happen through popular mobilization."
The Global Ecumenical Conference includes the participation of seventy economists, theologians, anti-poverty advocates and social scientists. The purpose of the gathering is to propose a new vision on which to build a new economic and financial "architecture."
Conference organizers say the aim is to "create a concept for a system, based on principles of economic, social, climate and ecological justice that serves the true economy, responds to social and ecological concerns, and sets limits to greed."
The statement organizers want to create defines principles of a new model of economic exchange that "shares wealthy more equitably and takes account of the need to limit consumption of non-renewable resources."