Some weeks after an international delegation conducted a fact-finding mission to uncover the human and environmental costs of land grabbing in northeastern Brazil, the first steps to ending this increasing trend have been taken. In a public letter issued this week, the Brazilian Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) strongly recommended the suspension of a State law on land tenure, which solely benefits big business, at the expense of traditional communities and biodiversity.
In September, a group of 30 human rights, development and rural experts visited communities across the region to document and analyze the structural impacts of large-scale acquisition. Spurred on by previous investigations, they also shed light on the scheming of land-based business in the region, where foreign money and pension funds are heavily invested. The appalling findings of the mission brought MPF representatives to visit some communities at the end of November, where the situation described by the delegation was verified.
“The Public Prosecutor’s Office recommends Instituto de Terras do Piauí (Tenure Institute of Piauí) to immediately suspend the application of the law on land regularization of the State of Piauí, in relation to areas occupied by traditional peoples and communities, until measures are adopted to ensure the possibility of collective titling of these territories, through free, prior and informed consultation of the affected communities,” reads the recommendation.
The letter, which strongly emphasizes the rights of the traditional communities, also recommends the World Bank “to adopt measures to audit and correct the negative effects of the World Bank-financed land regularization program in the State of Piauí, in order to prevent and remedy violations of the land rights of traditional peoples and communities”.
Parallel to these developments, affected communities have sent a letter demanding the intervention of the UN FAO, via the working group surveilling the implementation of land tenure guidelines. It is expected that simultaneous advocacy efforts will finally bring some justice to the communities, despite the complex web of actors involved.
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