domingo, 28 de junho de 2009

The History of Crickets in Brazilian Land Reform

In Brazil the word “grileiro” originates from the common, noisy little insect, the cricket. If you put this noisy little fellow in a box together with a document of some sort, the resultant yellow “ragged edge” effect, manifests an appearance well beyond its years. It is this technique that gives rise to the word, referring to a person who falsifies documents to illegally attain ownership of public land.

Recently the Brazilian President Luiz Inacio da Silva, passed a bill (Provisional Measure or “MP” 458) which will confirm the transfer of ownership of approximately 67.4 million hectares of public land (about the size of France) in the state of Amazonia, to private owners. The bill allows for the legalization of possession of invaded public lands, merely by a declaration of who occupies it.

The public discussion revolving around the bill, clearly demonstrates the significant problems Brazil faces in its land reform process and highlights the differing spectrums of the agricultural and environmental lobbies.

The government argues that the measure will bring security to hundreds of thousands of small farm owners in the region, whilst on the flip side, environmentalists’ alert that “grileiros” or squatters are being granted amnesty, sending out clear signals of leniency to such practices. Whilst one quarter purports to reduce violence stemming from the ownership of land, the other argues that the bill will increase land speculation, illegal forest occupations and even threaten the rights of indigenous and tribal communities.

To affirm who is correct is a matter of perspective, but in the battle of the principle lobby movements involved, it has never been clearer where the allegiances of President Lula lie.

Sources: BBC, Greenpeace Brasil, Wikipédia.

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