August 9, 2006 by cosmoakacitizensmith
Land occupation Brazil-stylee can be a tricky business. A bit like a game of chess. Take this place, camp Olga Benario, for example. How and why did it get occupied by a bunch of direct-action toting maniacs????
MOVE ONE!!!! INCRA, the governement agency responsible for earmarking land for reform, says, yes, this land is not being used! Under the Constitution, the landowner must therefore give it over to the poor!
MOVE TWO!!!! The MST step in and say, well these land owners are little bastards. As soon as they know INCRA have said we can have it, they’ll plant a load of eucalyptus there and tell us they are in fact using it. So we’ll get a legal team to look into it and send in a posse to occupy an area beside the said land, hence side-stepping some particular legal nastiness and putting pressure on the landowner.
MOVE THREE!!!!! Aracruz, the said landowner, does exactly what the MST thought it would do and plants a load of eucaplyptus. Wait a minute!! Not EUCALYPTUS, with its high environmental impact, using 36, 000 litres of water per tree a year and creating a green desert where nothing else can grow?!! Oh yes, mate. Those landowners, huh?
MOVE FOUR!!!! INCRA the government land-owning agency steps in again. Sorry, MST, they’re using the land. You can’t have it.
MOVE FIVE!!!! The MST legal team steps in and say, hah! Turns out Aracruz didn’t pay the old landowner the correct amount when they bought the land. Therefore, under more legalese in the Constitution, we can have it. CHECKMATE!
The landless families formally moved onto the 700 acre land a year ago. 360 hectares are good for farming. There are 50 families with five hectares each. Many of them live on government subsistance, literally a bag of rice and beans and a few bits of veg per week. They decide to pool resources and cultivate the land sustainably and collectively, with a view to selling what excess they may grow and putting the money back in to the community.
But first they had to remove every fucking eucalyptus tree by hand, making sure they took the roots out so it didn’t grow back. It took them three months.