“Brazil’s struggle is a struggle over land”
mano-brown-1-roda-vivaMano Brown, the leader of the hip-hop group Racionais MC’s, expressed strong support for the sem-teto (homless) when he visited a building they have occupied in Mauá in the centre of São Paulo on 17 May. “Kassab [the mayor of São Paulo] plans to take over 12,000 buildings during his administration, evicting the families living in them.” He doesn’t care about the human cost. “Human beings are mere details to him. What matters are machines, avenues, companies. They don’t care because it is not their families who will end up on the streets.”
Along with all the other people in Racionais MC’s, Mano Brown was brought up in a favela. The group’s music is tough and angry, using gangster imagery to demand social justice. They have often clashed with the authorities. A 1994 show at the Vale do Anhangabaú in the centre of São Paulo ended in a riot, when police raided the show and arrested the group. The group was charged with inciting violence.
Amid applause from the sem-teto, Mano Brown said that “Brazil’s struggle is a struggle over land, in its cities and in the countryside”. There is a pressing need for change. “Those who enslaved our ancestors are still in power. Nothing has changed. Brazil has a huge debt to its black population and indigenous communities. This has to change. And it’s our cause as much as yours. We are all in this together.”