Brazil’s Land Reform: Landless and Government Dispute Number of Settled Families

The number of new families settled on the land in Brazil does not exceed 60,000 according to the secretary of Agrarian Policy of the Brazilian National Confederation of Agricultural Workers (Contag), Paulo Caralo.

He informed that the Contag, together with the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST), questions the figures announced by the government, which claims that 117,500 families were settled this year.

"The Contag, with its federations and unions, has over 140 thousand families living in camps throughout Brazil at present. Of these families, which are linked to the labor movement, only around 30 thousand were settled this year," he asserted.

According to the secretary, the government wants to count the reoccupation and legalization of lots towards its agrarian reform target.

"We disagree. The government has legalized many areas where workers have occupied the land for 10, 20, or 30 years – which we regard as important – but this can’t be counted as part of the agrarian reform target," he said.

He added: "For us, agrarian reform represents new families on the land, new areas expropriated."

Caralo acknowledged progress on the agrarian reform issue, but he regretted that the National Agrarian Reform Plan (PNRA) is not being implemented.

"We must recognize that there have been some advances – modest, but they exist – in the reorganization of the INCRA. But they still fall far short of what we need, which is to execute the PNRA in fact."

In a reply to a note issued on Thursday, December 22, by the MST, the Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, affirmed that the government’s figures are indisputable.

"For us the criterion of truth is non-negotiable. There is no room to contest the quality of these figures. They correspond exactly to the number of families that went from the category of landless to landed," he insisted.

Agência Brasil

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