August 9, 2006 by cosmoakacitizensmith
But I was also interested in the way decisions are taken. For me, it’s equally as important.
Here’s what I learned.
The family is the bottom line. The base unit.
Fourteen families consitiute a nucleo. Maria Helena has been delegated by a nucleo to speak about the decisions they have made collectively or any needs they may have.
Next up is a coordinador who relays the collective decisions of the camp as a whole.
Then there are the dirigentes. They operate on the regional, state and national level.
Elections for positions occur every two years. Majority rules, (51%), but consensus, (100%), is something that is always sought.
Some other terms:
Militantes. As I said before these are usually local people who are trained to get people involved in and co-ordinate the occupations.
A brigado is a unit of people that is put togther for a specfic purpose, (e.g building someone’s house), and then dissolves. Lots of the houses I saw were not built by individual families but by brigados.
Children ten or younger can take part in meetings. After the age of ten they can vote. Like I said, all decisions, whether elections for delegates or those regarding administrative matters, are achieved through majority voting, but consensus is seen as desirable.
Why is all this important?
Decision-making can be slow but everyone participates, young and old. As such, they have a massive say in the day-to-day decisions that effect their everyday life.
Also, everyone is provided with information and educated about important matters. A good example of this is the kind of farming that a settlement might choose to practice. Information is provided and people make the choices they want.
The MST enables people to take responsibility for their lives and empower them about the kind of choices they need to make. The fact that people feel a part of this process is a big part of their appeal.
Contrast this to our own consumer-led society and its bullshit media and education system.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
Another thing that came over is that family is really important and as I see it part of the strength of this movement. I think, again, this is something we have forgotten about in our culture.
Having said that, with the MST, “family” does not necessarily mean a straight hetero couple with kids. We met queer couples who were cohabitating and they were as much a part of what was going on as everyone else.