The Brazilian National Congress can vote next week for the biggest amnesty for the theft of public lands ever granted since the country’s re-democratization. Senator Irajá Abreu, from Tocantins State presented this Thursday (12th) his report on Provisional Measure (executive order) PM-910, which worsens in several aspects the terrible text presented by the federal government. Now, in addition to being rewarded and forgiven, invaders of public lands will also have the land grabbing risk reduced.
The rapporteur’s proposal increases from 1,500 hectares to 2,500 hectares the area subject to regularization with no inspection required. This benefits organized crime, since huge lands already stolen and deforested may be titled with just a statement from their occupant. The occupation now also does not have to be direct: if the land grabber lives in São Paulo and keeps a henchman and a few oxen on the property, he will still be able to regularize his stolen land. Companies will be able to own large properties, which puts an end to the argument that the PM was made to resolve the situation of small squatters.
In addition, the report reduces the inherent risk in the illegal occupation of public lands: even if the land grabber does not fulfill the generous requirements for regularization, he may have his “improvements” compensated with public money.
At a time of high deforestation rates in the Amazon and doubts about Brazil’s ability – or will – to fulfill its goals in the Paris Agreement, the Land Grabbing Bill signals more uncontrolled devastation, more violence in the countryside and more greenhouse gases emissions.
“Although studies and public hearings have shown that the PM brings a risk of increased land grabbing and deforestation, the rapporteur’s text keeps some of these risks and even aggravates them,” said Brenda Brito, associate researcher at Imazon (Institute of People and the Environment of the Amazon). “If this measure is approved, it will encourage more occupation of public land, with the expectation of forgiveness in the future.”
For the voter of Jair Bolsonaro who thought he was voting for a government with zero tolerance for crime, the conclusion is: the president and his allies, after all, have pet gangsters – the land grabbers and deforesters in the Amazon.