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Union of Farmers and Agricultural Laborers of Brazil (ULTAB)

Union of Farmers and Agricultural Laborers of Brazil (ULTAB)

Founded in 1954, Union of Farmers and Agricultural Laborers of Brazil (Uniãodos Lavradores e Trabalhadores Agrícolas do Brasil—ULTAB) helped the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) coordinate and control the national rural labor movement. Although non-Communists participated in ULTAB, the party paid the salaries of top directors such as Lindolfo Silva and Heros Trench and financed ULTAB's monthly journal, Terra Livre. Active in nearly every state, ULTAB enabled the PCB to overwhelm rivals like the Peasant Leagues and Frente Agrária.

With headquarters in São Paulo's state capital, ULTAB sought to weaken the influence of the state's powerful coffee- and sugar-growers' lobby by unionizing sugarcane and coffee harvesters. While providing a welcome challenge to growers, ULTAB has been criticized for neglecting the immediate needs of workers by favoring political over economic solutions to their problems. On numerous occasions, ULTAB squelched labor protests in order to demonstrate the PCB's authority over rural workers to enhance its image among bureaucrats and politicians with whom the party hoped to ally in backing agrarian reform laws.

When the government-sanctioned National Confederation of Agricultural Laborers (CONTAG) formed in November 1963, the semiclandestine ULTAB disbanded and its militants joined the new organization. A third of CONTAG's elected officers, including its president, responded to party discipline.

See alsoBrazil, Political Parties: Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) .


Robert E. Price, "Rural Unionization in Brazil," Land Tenure Center, University of Wisconsin, Madison (1964).

Verena Stolcke, Coffee Planters, Workers, and Wives: Class Conflict and Gender Relations on São Paulo Plantations, 1850–1980 (1988), pp. 100-108.

Additional Bibliography

Athos Magno Costa e Silva. O estado e o campo no Brazil, 1930–1964: Revolução conservadora das elites e luta pela terra na retaguarda do país. Goiânia: UCG Editora, 2001.

Bombardi, Larissa Mies. O bairro reforma agrária e o processo de territorialização camponesa. São Paulo: Annablume, 2004.

Linhares, Maria Yedda Leite, and Carlos Teixeira Silva. Terra prometida: Uma história da questão agrária no Brasil. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Campus, 1999.

Silva, Lyndolpho, and Paulo Ribeiro da Cunha. O camponês e a história: A construção da Ultab e a fundação da Contag nas memórias de Lyndolpho Silva. São Paulo: Instituto Astrojildo Pereira (IAP), 2004.

Stédile, João Pedro, and Douglas Estevam. A questão agrária no Brasil. 2nd ed. São Paulo: Editora Expressão Popular, 2005.

                                                  Cliff Welch

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