Leaving Recife with Solidarity

Organizers Forum

Salvador          It had been a good, productive week in Brazil.  The meetings had come together.  The delegation had gelled well.  Some had early flights to Salvador and on to Sao Paulo, well others were leaving from Recife in the afternoon.

We had heard that our friends at MST now had some kind of store or café in both of the major cities of the north.  At one point, our schedule had us eating there.  Managing to find it on the Google finally, it seemed that it was open more hours on Saturday than during the week.  When we were in Caruaru, the MST folks had mentioned that they held a market in Recife over the weekend and invited us to visit.  We had demurred based on our departures, but when I saw that the store was supposedly open at 6 AM on a Saturday, the only explanation had to be that the market must also be there.  It was supposedly only ten minutes away from where we were staying.  We all decided we would walk over and see. Vamos!

At first, we overshot the location and crossed the second bridge over the island towards Marco Zero, the measuring point near the ocean for the city.  Walking back, we could see part of the street near a raised bus stop was blocked off.  Sure enough, stalls were set up displaying both MST and similar paraphernalia, vegetables from the settlements, and even some of the baked goods we had seen on the drying racks at the production center the day before, labeled of course Normandia, which we now knew was the name of the 30-year-old settlement.  Both the administrative coordinator and Jamie, leader of Normandia were there, along with other companeros and companeras, who greeted us effusively, like it was old home week.  We bought swag, of course. I had to buy a loaf of the banana bread we had smelled in baking, which became an airport snack for all of us later on.  I even bought an anti-Bolsonaro shopping bag, which seemed a neat election gimmick, calling for him to be jailed with two flowers sewn on the side.  They of course gave us even more food, and we left once again with hugs and promises of visits and returns.

Checking out at noon, we were wrangling our bags in the lobby, and I recognized two of the coordinators and leaders from the GMM feminist center we had visited days earlier.  They were busy at the counter, where we had left something for them to pick up.  What a coincidence, they were coming in, as we were going on.  I went up to them, and, oh, mercy, it was another homecoming.  You would have thought we were the prodigals coming back to the family.  Shouts, hugs, kisses, and more selfies and pictures of the whole group with big smiles all around.

We waved to them as they pulled off, and we went on with the details of departure.  It was hard to escape the feeling that within social movements in Brazil, solidarity has taken on special meaning now, forged in struggle, and creating unbreakable bonds that are so strong, that they even are large enough to embrace fellow travelers like ourselves with something that seems as close as friendship and even approaches love.