“companion” in the journey and fight for land possession. However, she also said that the CPT no longer involves itself in the religious question, but tries to be an accessory to the workers, “capacitizing” them. In opening the type of support they give to the workers, they actually give more support now than they used to in the past, when they had a “different type of work.” The relationship between the CPT and the STR in Rondón became more clear at the weekend meeting that was observed during this study. The STR was discussing an upcoming event to commemorate the assassination of a former president that would also celebrate the culture and agricultural production of communities connected to the union. CPT leaders participated in the discussion at an equal level with the STR leaders and members. It was clear their goal and role was to provide ideas and support, not to dominate or determine the direction of the meeting. The dynamic echoed the statements of the many interviewees that while movements remain autonomous and independent, the CPT continues to be a valuable resource and ally.
From the CPT’s perspective, one aspect of their current relationship with movements today not yet covered in other parts of this section has to do with the way the CPT blatantly differs from the present-day Church. In particular, one CPT interviewee stated that the people in these organizations and movements identify very much with the CPT because it works together with them; it’s not a formal, grand institution like the Church “with priests talking in Latin.”
The changing fight, for the CPT and the movements
CPT workers described the following rough timeline of the CPT’s work and the changes it has experienced. In the 1970s and 80s, their work was almost entirely about supporting the posseiros in the fight for land. In the 90s, they began organizing with workers in general, not just those in the rural zone, and also beginning to address environmental questions by way of promoting agro-ecology methods and providing rural workers with technical information about improving production. In the 2000s, they began publicizing and doing juridical work around modern-day slave labor, providing workers with a place to come for help getting out of the exploitative cycle of certain companies.
Asked specifically about whether this history represents a change in methods for the CPT, one staff member said, “I don’t know if it’s a change in methods, but the CPT is contributing to fighting new challenges facing the workers today.” This attitude mirrored that expressed, although with different syntax, by the MST leader, who said that their goal is to keep the main principles of organizing work, but change some of the methods, given that the fight itself is changing. A CPT staff member described these changes as a shift caused by globalization today, saying that the Church needed to “rethink its defense of rights” given the corporately- dominated, multinational development scheme being faced today. In the past, he said, the main focus was on access to land, but today the fight encompasses threats to the environment and the Amazon at large based on