Brazil | Development and Peace



Our Program

Development and Peace has a long history in Brazil, and its programming has developed over the years through its initial interactions with the pastoral commissions of the Brazilian Church, which were set up to address specific socioeconomic issues in the country. The Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) of the Church remains an important partner of Development and Peace in strengthening peasant rights.

Development and Peace has also contributed significantly to the growth of some of Brazil’s most important social movements, such as the Landless Peasant Movement (MST) and the Movement of Dam-Affected People (MAB), both of which continue to be Development and Peace partners.

Brazil citation

“Today, I have a different view of slave labour and workers’ rights. Our employer will only respect us when he knows that we are aware of our rights.” Maria Dalva, leader of a farmers’ group that receives training from the CPT in the state of Pará.

Through its partnerships in Brazil, Development and Peace’s program is addressing the injustices and abuses suffered by poor and marginalized communities in the name of development projects that benefit corporate interests, such as mining sites, large-scale agriculture of monocultures and the construction of hydro-electric dams. Whether in urban or rural areas, the poor and vulnerable rarely benefit from the wealth generated from these projects, and as a result Brazil has one of the highest rates of income inequality in the world. Development and Peace is working to ensure that the voices of these communities are heard and their rights are respected at the municipal, state and national levels.

The issues we work on to build justice:

Democracy and citizen participation icon

and citizen participation

Food icon



Ecological Justice


Natural resources


The situation

Despite being considered an emerging economy, Brazil has one of the largest rates of disparity between the rich and the poor in the world. The country’s wealth has been built on the backs of its poor and marginalized communities, and through the unrestrained exploitation of its natural resources. Indigenous communities have witnessed the destruction and contamination of their ancestral lands in the Amazonian rainforest, peasants have been stripped of their farms and people in the cities’ favelas are denied basic services. A major mining disaster in Minas Gerais in November 2015 exposed the dangers and lack of regulation of the extractives industries in the country.

The recent impeachment of President Dilma Roussef has placed an unelected government in power, threatening the country’s democracy, as well as recent reforms and programs attempting to create a more just society. In parallel, human rights defenders, environmental activists and poor communities have been increasingly criminalized.

The Church’s pastoral commissions remain active in working for social justice, and the Brazilian Catholic Church is a tireless actor in the struggle for social justice in Brazil. It is an active participant in the Churches and Mining in Latin America Network and the Pan Amazonian Ecumenical Network, both of which Development and Peace supports in various ways.


Movement of Dam Affected People (MAB)

Brazil’s hydroelectric potential is the envy of many of the world’s nations. Numerous multinationals set up there, and to meet their insatiable need for energy, Brazil is forced to build dam after dam. While supply abounds, Brazil’s power is used to the benefit of these multinationals. As a result, costs continue to soar. Brazilians pay the world’s fifth highest electricity prices, which is devastating to its vulnerable families. In 2009, the MAB launched a national campaign to fight the country’s exorbitant electricity costs.

When it comes to housing rights, the construction of over 2,000 dams has led to the eviction of 1 million Brazilians from their own lands over the last 40 years. The displaced often live poorly in shantytowns, while others join the ranks of the rural workers with no land who battle for any land they can get. Others, too, have united through the MAB to convince those who build new dams to provide sufficient compensation to allow these people to find alternate housing and rebuild their lives.
The MAB holds training and educational activities in support of the cause. For the last few years, the MAB has been running a literacy project for youths and adults that has reached more than 5,500 people, with help from the Department of Education and Culture. The objective is to reach out to a total of nearly 10,000 participants per year through training activities (meetings, workshops, courses, seminars, discussions, studies, etc.).

Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST)

MST, which is a movement of landless Brazilians dispossessed of their land, is one of the largest social movements in Latin America. Over the last 20 years, its members have gained access to 25 million hectares of land - a landmass equivalent to England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland combined.

However, MST continues to push for agricultural reform in Brazil, because farmland in still concentrated in the hands of a few. In fact, almost half of arable farmland is controlled by only 1.6 percent of owners.

But land reform is only one part of MST’s dream. Little by little, the organization is sowing the seeds of a Brazil where land is in the hands of those who cultivate it; a nation of equality where oppression and slavery have been uprooted; and a nation where agriculture respects the cycles of nature and responds to people’s needs. Already, its members have created agricultural cooperatives, built houses, schools and private hospitals, and have ensured a safe food supply for more than 350,000 families.

Watch a video about the MST:

October 9, 2020

The For our Common Home campaign culminates with a webinar featuring Indigenous testimonies, solidarity, inspiration and plans for powerful advocacy.

August 7, 2020

Development and Peace – Caritas Canada welcomes the new "Amazoniza-te" campaign launched by the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (CNBB)

June 11, 2020

South American Church leaders call for “urgent and unified action to avoid a humanitarian and environmental tragedy” in the Amazon.

Brazil CPT
March 28, 2020
Watch this webinar to learn more about the work of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), Development and Peace’s partner in Brazil.
January 31, 2020

Through our campaign, For our Common Home: A future for the Amazon, a future for all, we have been raising awareness of the struggle of two...

January 24, 2020

Development and Peace and its partners successfully advocated for the United Nations Special Rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes to visit affected communities.

February 4, 2019

Together with our partners on the ground, Development and Peace joins in solidarity with the victims of this tragic socio-environmental disaster and proposes ways to prevent another tragedy.

November 8, 2018

A report produced in collaboration with some of Development and Peace – Caritas Canada’s partners in Brazil uncovers how foreign investments and...

Are landgrabs in Brazil feeding Canadian pension funds?
November 17, 2017

The MATOPIBA is a region deep inside Brazil on the edge of the Amazon that is lush in biodiversity and where many peasants make their living cultivating small plots of land to feed their families and communities.

Do you know where your pension fund money is being invested
February 7, 2017

For years, Canadians have been taking advantage of the month of February to review their investments before tax season starts. But have you ever wondered if you have “responsible” investments?

October 31, 2016

One year ago, Brazil experienced the worst environmental disaster in its history, when a tailings dam collapsed at the Mariana iron ore mining site in the state of Minas Gerais, dumping millions of tonnes of mud and toxins into the Rio Doce River.

Rogério Alves/TV Senado
December 10, 2015

Development and Peace’s partners in Brazil are condemning the negligent actions and lack of accountability of the mining companies involved in a tragic mining catastrophe that is being described as one of the worst environmental disasters in Brazil’s history.

March 19, 2015

If Bishop Eugenio Rixen has one message that he hopes to share with Canadians during his solidarity visit to Canada, it’s that faith and action are not contrary to one another, but rather go hand in hand.

February 24, 2015

Maria Dalva dirige un groupe de 54 agriculteurs dans l’État de Para au Brésil. Pour beaucoup de membres du groupe toutefois, l’amour de la terre a été menacé par les conditions de travail proches de l’esclavage imposées par le propriétaire de la plantation.

November 10, 2014

From October 27-29, the Vatican hosted a meeting of Popular Movements to discuss issues of exclusion and poverty in today’s society, and to forge a way where these movements can be brought together to work in coordination in their struggles for justice.

October 24, 2014

Last December, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences held a workshop at the Vatican entitled “The Emergency of the Socially Excluded,” that brought together representatives of social movements from Argentina and Brazil, economists, politicians, theologians, and philosopher as part of an initiative of Pope Francis to start studying issues around the excluded and the marginalized, with the focus on

June 17, 2014

It doesn’t take much to get a game of soccer going. A ball and some makeshift goalposts are all that are required for anyone to start a match. Its accessibility is surely one of the main reasons why the sport is so popular and can be seen played in even some of the remotest corners of the world.

Credit: CPT Archives
May 9, 2014

Development and Peace is deeply saddened by news of the passing of Dom Tomás Balduíno and Dom José Moreira Bastos, two leaders of its Brazilian partner organization the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT).

May 2, 2014

Last April, Pope Francis met with Most Reverend Erwin Kräutler, Bishop of the Prelature of Xingu and President of the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), whose work is supported by Development and Peace in the states of Goiás and Tocantins (GOTO) in the centre of Brazil.

June 10, 2013

Development and Peace is concerned about the situation of Brazilian human rights defenders who have been victims of the less than transparent machinations of the VALE mining company, the largest iron extraction company and second largest mining company in the world.

October 18, 2012

On October 20th, Development and Peace’s partner organization the Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) in Brazil will be paying homage to Dom Tomás Balduino, who will be celebrating his 90th birthday in December.

February 24, 2012

“The Brazilian agrarian structure requires major changes if we want a freer and more democratic country.”
José Gomes Neto, Secretary, Pastoral Land Commission (CPT)