Wanna Buy Cheap Land in Brazil?

     Wanna Buy Cheap Land in 
Brazil?

    The Internet has plenty
    of offers for those willing to buy a
    piece of the Brazilian jungle. The price is good: from US$ 16
    to US$ 50 for a hectare of public land in the Brazilian Amazon.
    The problem is that government land cannot be sold directly to
    the public in Brazil. So the police are warning: ‘caveat emptor.’
    by: Marcela
    D’Alessandro

    According to the Federal Police superintendent in the state of Pará,
    Brazil, ads have been appearing on the Internet offering Brazilian public
    land for US$ 16 (50 reais) to US$ 48 (150 reais) a hectare.

    Some of the ads are in
    Portuguese, and some are in English, trying to tempt foreign buyers. Public
    land in Brazil cannot be sold until after it has been transferred out of government
    ownership. That is certainly not the situation of the public land being offered
    on the Internet.

    A local prosecutor, Felicio
    Pontes Junior, says that attempts are being made to discover the origin of
    the Internet ads. "We still do not know what country the ads are coming
    from.

    "We are in touch
    with the Federal Police and Interpol, however one problem with these cases
    is that some countries do not require advertisers to register or identify
    themselves and there is little we can do," says Pontes Junior.

    Another related problem
    is that land registration offices have issued a flood of deeds as a scramble
    occurs to legalize land ownership in the Amazon. For the land registration
    offices that means profits, for the government losses.

    In an attempt to control
    the situation, the Incra (Instituto Nacional de Colonização
    e Reforma Agrária—Land Reform and Settlement Institute) is beginning
    to use satellite photos.

    "We used to inspect
    by sample areas. Now we will have photos of the whole country and will be
    able to inspect each and every property. This system will be fully operational
    only in nine years, but our priority is the Amazon and we are starting there
    now," explains the Incra president, Rolf Hackbart.

    With regard to public
    land in the Amazon, caveat emptor is indeed the order of the day: buying such
    land knowingly is a crime, punishable by a jail sentence of 1 to 5 years in
    prison.

    Help for Farming

    The Brazilian government
    will spend US$ 2.2 billion (R$ 7 billion) on the National Family Farming Program,
    2004/2005. This measure should permit an additional 450 thousand farmers to
    benefit from the program of loans to producers.

    The announcement was made
    last month by the Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, following
    a meeting in the Planalto Palace with representatives of the tenth rendition
    of the Clamor of the Land.

    "This quantity expresses
    Lula’s Administration’s support for family farming in the country. We are
    working to improve our performance even more," Rossetto emphasized.

    He revealed that the government
    will expropriate 100 thousand hectares of land for agrarian reform as soon
    as possible. Also, a commission will be formed by the Ministries of Planning,
    Agrarian Development, and Finance, together with representatives of the Incra
    to study the job and salary plan for Incra employees.

    The president of the Contag
    (Confederação Nacional de Trabalhadores an Agricultura—National
    Confederation of Agricultural Workers), Manuel dos Santos, left the meeting
    pleased with the 30 percent increase in the funds that will be made available
    for the 2004/2005 harvest, in comparison with 2003/2004. The resources rose
    from US$ 1.7 billion (5.4 billion reais) to US$ 2.2 billion (7 billion reais).

    According to Santos, the
    government was more successful this time in meeting the grievances of the
    sector, but he stressed that the movement is still not completely satisfied.
    "We will still make a detailed assessment of the government’s response
    to our demands," he affirmed.

    On his way out of the
    meeting, Santos displayed a document containing the government’s responses
    to the 183 grievances presented to the government by the farmers. He said
    that the counter-proposal would be evaluated at the Clamor of the Land encampment,
    which had been set up on the Esplanade of the Ministries.

    The government also sent
    the National Congress a bill earmarking US$ 137.2 million (430 million reais)
    for agrarian reform throughout the country. This is the first portion of the
    US$ 542 million (1.7 billion reais) budgetary supplement announced by President
    Lula in April.

    The Minister of Agrarian
    Development also announced the disbursement of over US$ 1.2 billion (4 billion
    reais) for family farming in the current crop year and reaffirmed the goal
    of settling 115 thousand families by December.

    "According to April’s
    figures, 30 thousand families are in the process of being settled. By June
    we should have surpassed the total number of families settled in the entire
    year of 2003," Minister Rossetto underscored.

    He also pointed out that
    the contracts on behalf of the most impoverished rural segments through the
    National Program for the Strengthening of Family Farming (Pronaf) were allotted
    more than the total funds disbursed over the last four years.

    "We gave a national
    dimension to the Pronaf and advanced in the North, Northeast, and Center-West
    regions. We also expanded technical assistance," he remarked. Through
    the Incra, the Ministry of Agrarian Development will universalize technical
    assistance services for families in settlements all across Brazil by year’s
    end.

    Rossetto also stressed
    the importance of winning approval for the Constitutional Amendment Proposal
    on Slave Labor, which will expropriate properties where the use of slave-like
    labor is confirmed and convert them to agrarian reform. The proposal is expected
    to be voted on the floor of the Chamber of Deputies next week.

    The Minister called on
    the social movements for dedication and mobilization to pass the text of the
    amendment in the National Congress. "This should be an occasion of great
    commemoration for our government and all the social movements, which should
    accompany the voting from this point on," Rossetto declared.


    Marcela D’Alessandro works for Agência Brasil (AB), the official press
    agency of the Brazilian government. Comments are welcome at lia@radiobras.gov.br.

    Translated
    from the Portuguese by Allen Bennett.

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