Making Amends

    
Making Amends

    The Brazilian Agrarian Reform Association disagrees
     with the manner in which the number of
    land
    settlements realized between 1997 and 1999 is presented
    and the World Bank’s market-based

    agrarian reform program. Points cited by
    the FAO as positive are shown to be far from reality.

    By


    The ABRA (Associação Brasileira de Reforma Agrária—Brazilian Agrarian Reform Association (ABRA) is
    contesting what the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has to say about agrarian reform in Brazil in the
    FAO’s "State of the World of Food and Agriculture – 2001." According to the Association, certain passages of the report "are
    a far cry from the scientific care and political neutrality that characterize the report as a whole." ABRA wrote to the FAO
    director general, Jacque Diouf, asking that corrections be made.

    According to the letter from ABRA, the FAO report "reproduces, in various moments, data and discourse from the
    Brazilian government about the supposed merits and achievements of the Agrarian Reform program."

    The FAO report says that the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration has done the most for agrarian reform in
    the country, when that "was the exclusive result of the intensification of struggles of Brazilian rural workers, augmented
    with the internal and international repercussions of the massacres at Corumbiara and Eldorado de Carajás."

    Another point that ABRA regards as incorrect is in regards to the Rural Land Tax (ITR). The 1996 ITR legislation,
    cited as coercive and punitive for the large landowners’ properties, is milder that the previous 1994 law. The proposed
    revenue from the tax for 2002 is $99 million, while in the last year of the 1994 legislation $114 million was raised. In other words,
    this year’s ITR revenue will be 47.5% less than that of the previous law if corrected for inflation.

    ABRA also disagrees with the manner in which the number of land settlements realized between 1997 and 1999 is
    presented and the World Bank’s market-based agrarian reform program. These two points, cited by the FAO as positive, are shown
    to be far from reality. The Cédula da Terra program, for example, has various irregularities, such as the precarious nature of
    the technical reports, the over-valuing of land and productivity on unproductive large land holdings. The ABRA letter
    demonstrates these and other errors in specific cases in Bahia, Minas Gerais, Maranhão and Pernambuco.

    Upon receiving the FAO report, the Cardoso administration published congratulatory ads with the headline, `Even
    the United Nations praises Agrarian Reform in Brazil’ in major Brazilian newspapers. According to the ABRA letter,
    "besides the publicity in the press, the Internet pages of the Ministry of Agrarian Development and INCRA (National Institute
    for Colonization and Agrarian Reform), continued to celebrate the `approval of the UN’ of the agrarian reform program.
    They published the section on Brazil in the FAO document. However, as usual, two types of fraud were detected in the
    material: 1) the FAO text was not reproduced in its entirety; passages that did not interest the government’s propaganda were
    eliminated; 2) the unfaithful translation of certain passages in the report, changing words and expressions from the original
    text, in ways that would amplify the supposed merits of the government."

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