Legalizing the illegal
Atualizado: 9 de Dez de 2020
Executive Summary on the Study “Legalizing the illegal: environmental and land legislation and the expansion of the agricultural borderlands in Matopiba.”
This study was conducted by the Association of Lawyers of Rural Workers — AATR by its Portuguese acronym —, a civil society organization directly linked to the struggles of the popular peoples from the countryside of Bahia. Through legal advice for the defense of territorial rights of indigenous peoples, quilombolas, riverside communities, fishermen, as well as other traditional communities such as fecho e fundo de pasto associations and geraizeiros, encompassing the entire peasant diversity of the region, AATR has worked primarily on the visibility and fight against public land grabbing and fraud.
The summary hereby presented is the result of a work articulated around the National Campaign in Defense of the Brazilian Cerrado, alongside the collective struggles against the imposition of an agrobusiness model to parts of the Cerrado in the states of Maranhão, Tocantins, Piauí, and Bahia, recognized as one of the last agricultural borderlands in the world. The Matopiba represents the consolidation and advancement of agrobusiness and the increasing disputes over land, whose history dates back to land grabbing and the appropriation of natural resources. Thus, this study is the first systematic analysis on the links between public land grabbing and fraud, deforestation, and traditional land expropriation in Matopiba.
The focus of the following discussion is the analysis of part of the legislation on vacant public lands in Matopiba, in order to present these laws's historical trajectory and identify institutional breeches that have contributed to the escalation of land grabbing in the region. Besides, we aimed at reflecting, in a comparative perspective, upon how these legal breeches have enabled the legalization of land grabbing in the recent past across the Matopiba states.
The study is subdivided into three parts. Part I presents a brief agrarian and land profile for Matopiba, establishing a few considerations on the relationship between land grabbing, deforestation, and conflicts in the region. Part II brings about a current and historical analysis of the legislation around vacant public lands. Finally, Part III articulates an important element of the interface between land and environmental legislation, which is the Forest Code, and more specifically the Environmental Rural Registry (CAR by its Portuguese acronym), understanding that, in the current process of expanding the agricultural borderlands in Matopiba, the CAR has become a fundamental tool for what can be called “green land grabbing”.