MP 759 changes a key land program to make acquisition better for wealthy land thieves and worse for peasant families — a huge threat to the Amazon rainforest, say experts.
- MP 759, signed into law this week by President Temer, and little noticed by the media, significantly alters Brazil’s Terra Legal program, introduced in 2009 by President Lula — a program that has already been hijacked by land thieves, critics say.
- The new law introduces further multiple loopholes to allow land thieves, who have illegally occupied and cleared vast areas of public land in the Amazon, to legalize their land holdings, and to do so both easily and cheaply.
- MP 759, among other things, increases the land claimable via Terra Legal from 1,500 to 2,500 hectares; allows wealthy land thieves to go on paying very little for land; and offers what in practice is an amnesty for land grabbers who illegally seized public lands between 2004 and 2011.
- With government regulatory and enforcement agencies hard hit by massive budget cuts, analysts fear that the passage of MP 759 will result in an alarming increase in rural violence, which is already running at very high levels.
BRASILIA, Brazil: On 11 July, President Michel Temer signed into law important new legislation (MP 759) that paves the way for land thieves, who have illegally occupied and cleared vast areas of public land in the Amazon, to legalize their land holdings. The changes introduced by the legislation will make it easier — and very cheap — for wealthy land grabbers (even those who illegally occupied land fairly recently) to gain property rights over vast areas.
The bill was passed at a time of drastic cuts in funding for key government regulatory bodies, such as the environmental agency IBAMA, the agrarian reform institute INCRA, and the Indian agency FUNAI.
The new law which is likely to embolden land thieves, when combined with the huge enforcement cuts, could lead Brazil into a period of lawlessness and unrest believes Deborah Duprat, Prosecutor for Citizen Rights in the Office of the Attorney General (PFDC).
“Among numerous unconstitutional elements, MP 759, which was approved in the midst of protests, transfers into private hands an enormous stock of public land,” said Duprat. “With this, various policies that guarantee land for peoples, the environment and conservation units, are going to become completely compromised. We have to be prepare for a situation in the countryside where — as a result of the bankruptcy of public policies — violence will grow exponentially,” Duprat said.
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