[12/22/05] MST Disputes Government’s Land Reform Figures for 2005

[12/22/05] MST Disputes Government’s Land Reform Figures for 2005

The National Coordinating Body of the MST has rebuked the Land Reform figures for 2005 released by the Lula government. The Movement insists that the Ministry of Agrarian Development (MDA) is repeating methods used by the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso [1995-2002] to inflate the number of families benefiting from Land Reform.

The MDA made public their claim that over 115,000 families benefited from Land Reform in 2005, a figure that exceeds the goal set for this year. The National Plan for Agrarian Reform foresees the settlement of 400,000 families by the end of 2006.

According to the MST, the Lula government figures include families that have been settled on land abandoned by previously settled families. In most of these cases, these lands are abandoned by workers that find it impossible to produce in the area, with soil and living conditions so terrible as to make life unbearable.

Another point of contention is a rise in the number of settlements in the Amazon region. These settlements are in areas with poor infrastructure and they are established on public lands, leaving falsely claimed lands in the hands of large landowners.

The MST is demanding the establishment of a Commission, which should include the participation of social movements, the National Council of Brazilian Bishops (CNBB), the National Lawyers Association (OAB), employees of the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA), and journalists. The Commission would be responsible for visiting the settlements claimed by the Lula government in order to conduct an assessment of the 2005 figures.

The government claims it settled 36,000 families in 2003 and 81,000 families in 2004. However, research conducted by Ariovaldo Umbelino de Oliveira, a professor at the University of São Paulo, shows only 9,000 families benefiting from Land Reform in 2003 and 35,000 benefiting in 2004.

In Portuguese –
The text above is available in its original form by visiting: