In a note issued Thursday, December 22, the Brazilian Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) questions the figures announced by Brazil’s INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform) and the Brazilian Ministry of Agrarian Development.
According to the note, in its agrarian reform statistics the government includes families that received land in old settlements. The INCRA data claim that 117,500 families were settled in 2005.
The MST document affirms that "the agrarian reform policy is in no way new and adopts the same procedures as the FHC [Fernando Henrique Cardoso] Administration:
"It inflates the real settlement figures by considering the turnover in lots in old settlements as new settlements; and it permits families to go on living in substandard settlements on public lands in the North of the country, mainly to the benefit of squatters."
According to the Minister of Agrarian Development, Miguel Rossetto, 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.
INCRA president Rolf Hackbart pointed out that the families have all been settled and possess all their legal rights. "There is no virtual agrarian reform in this Administration. Each family has already had its lot recognized by the INCRA. And with the right to US$ 2,143.44 (R$ 5 thousand) to pay for home construction and US$ 1,028.85 (R$ 2,400) each year for three years to organize production in the settlement," he explained.
Hackbart also announced that in January the Administration will release a list containing the names and other information pertinent to all the settled families.
In its note the MST calls for the formation of commission, including representatives of social movements, the National Conference of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB), the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB), INCRA staff members, and reporters, to visit the settlements announced by the government and check the government’s figures.