Brazil campaigners hail court decision canceling large land deal
By Chris Arsenault
RIO DE JANEIRO, July 20 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - C ampaigners in Brazil on Wednesday hailed a court decision to cancel a major land acquisition deal because investors had illegally acquired territory from small-scale farmers.
A state court in Piaui in Brazil's poor northeast issued an order canceling the deal for a tract of land larger than Los Angeles earlier this month.
The 124,000 hectare land concession in the area of Santa Filomena in the south of Piaui State was acquired illegally by Brazilian businessmen, according to court documents.
"This is a very important case," said Fabio Pitta from the Social Network for Justice and Human Rights, a Sao Paulo-based advocacy group.
"People who had been living on these lands were being evicted, sometimes violently," Pitta told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Pitta said it was unclear how many small-scale farmers, most of whom grow rice, beans or yucca, would be affected by the court decision.
In order to seize the land, businessmen in Piaui illegally registered ownership of farms with the help of lawyers or corrupt officials at local land registry offices, Pitta said.
He said prosecutors in Piaui have been trying to crack down on these kinds of illegal land seizures, which are known as "grilagem" in Brazil. Continuación...