The Landless Movement in Relation to the Forro/Sertanejo Music

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The Landless Movement emerged as a response to issues concerning the land concentration in Brazil. Much of the land lies unused due to the 1% elite. About 47% of the land lies unused and the movement’s argument is that the land is arable land which means it can be used for farming (Global Justice, 2003). Many of the elite claim the land because of wealth, while the poor are forced to live in favelas which are tightly concentrated, low-income cities (Ortiz, 2016). The bigger issue lies within extreme social stratification.

A Pew Research poll found that the majority of Brazilians are at a disapproval with the school systems and find health care severely lacking (Livingstone, 2014). Because of this, the movement is not only working to further land opportunities but also healthcare (Global Justice). MST has increased educational funding for residents and teacher training programs, so that people could receive good education, and teachers could develop curriculums for the schools. There are currently thousands of members of the movement studying at public schools (Mier, 2015).

As the biggest social movement in Brazil, the Landless Movement (MST) had impacts on the government and people. On the one hand, after its existence, the MST set up small farms for affiliated families, and “began to shift its focus, slowing the number of land occupations and consolidating democratic, community control over its hundreds of villages spread across 23 states” (Mier, 2015). Furthermore, the MST “engaged in political organizing work in countries around the developing world and coordinating large protests against mining and agribusiness multinationals over the past 15 years”(Mier, 2015).

In the effort to produce The Landless Movement soundtrack, a variety of genres were present that traditionally identified with rurality, specifically including forro and sertaneja. In regard to the influences of forro music, much of the genre’s influences are from samba and bossa, and the lyrics show the life about Brazilian people. Traditionally, they were about life in the rural such as concerns and droughts, migration to look for work, however, the more recent lyrics have a more of an urban flavor and related to more life of a young urbanized middle class. A subdivision of the forro genre is called “forro electronico,” or electronic forro. This introduced the many modern aspects like female dancers and electronic equipment. One famous electronic forro band is named Caviar com Rapadura(“Caviar with Brown Sugar Candy”), which references “the mixture and the union between the rich and the poor, the bourgeoisie and the man from the country, sophistication and simplicity, the mixture of romantic, electronic, modern forro and the traditional pe-de-serra”(Draper). This accurately represents and supports links to the landless movement because of how the movement emphasized the significance of equality since “Brazil is characterized by extreme inequality, with nearly 2 percent of landowners controlling approximately half of all agricultural land” (McCowan 2016). Overall, the forro contributions strongly correlated with a variety of influences in regards to the Landless Movement, which aided with the cultural bond of the people of brazil.

Furthermore on the link between the Landless Movement and the genre of Forro/Sertanejo, Brazil associated “traditional forro” with the legacy of Luiz Gonzaga who “first popularized forro in the form of Baiao, which proves that the famous accordionist was concerned with appealing to a broader audience and with representing the popular classes of the Northeast”(Draper). His goal was to make Northeastern music using his own personal style and creativity to express the common Northeasterners’ struggles and joys through the forro genre. Since there are stereotypes against Northeasterners held by many of the southerners in Brazil, Gonzaga thought the only way to spread awareness of this was through the culture industry and modern work, thus, he attempted to establish a broader market for forro, not only for personal profit but also to eliminate stereotypes against Northeasterners. The movement’s “nationally coordinated music project as captured by a CD, is less an expression of a redemptive search for rural authenticity than a reaffirmation for the movement’s political platform, emphasizing redistributive justice”(Dunn).

Additionally, in relation to the concept of fear and hope, Graciano Lorenzi who was active in the Musician’s Collective, described that the CD recognized music as an important channel for societal communication.  The CD was not supposed to be aggressive but rather overcome the sympathy and true support of affected victims. The CD featured vocalists including Leci brandao, Chico, césar, Cida Moreira, and Beth Carvalho. Overall, Music gave people a voice and a median to share their verbal and nonverbal thoughts to the conflicts in the Brazilian Landless network.

Although there are still protests against dislocations, poverty, hunger, and violence suffered by the Landless and calls to address historic injustices, The forro and sertanejo genre arrangements have to power to advocate and fight for the Landless’ true rights. Many songs by the genre’s artists provided one with a sense of hope beyond the fear of not belonging. Forro and Sertanejo provides many with a authenticity, advocation, communication, and a refuge to ultimately expressing the rural cultural roots that Brazil truly wanted to arise.



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