Pará gives 99% discount to regularize squatters on public land

In yet another measure that facilitates the regularization of land grabbing, the governor of Pará, Helder Barbalho (MDB), issued a decree that allows for a subsidy of R$ 6.7 billion for the privatization of invaded state public lands.

The estimate, equivalent to Mega Sena da Virada awards, is from a study by Imazon (Institute of Man and the Environment of the Amazon) on the impact of state decree 1.684, promulgated in July 2021 by Barbalho.

The standard reduced prices, which were already below market value, for the privatization of areas of 100 hectares to 2.500 acre. The average value per hectare plummeted from R$ 100 to R$ 68, a reduction de 68%, according to Imazon.

The result is that those who invaded public lands will be able to regularize themselves by paying 1.2% of the average cost of a hectare in the land market in Pará, of R$ 3.684.

“Charging low for land is one of the incentives for land grabbing and leads to more deforestation”, says researcher Brenda Brito, co-author of the study. “Someone invests in invasion, occupation, deforestation. At some point, a person manages to regularize and sell this land. Or ends up selling it beforehand to someone who thinks he will be able to regularize it and make a profit.”

Para the researcher, the argument of the Pará government (and also defended by the Bolsonaro government) that, after land privatization, there is a drop in deforestation, does not occur in practice. “The evidence shows the opposite, that public protected areas are the most conserved.”

Brito cites the case of the APA (Environmental Protection Area) Triunfo do Xingu, a protection category that allows for Private propriety. Focus of attention of the state government, it is currently the state conservation unit with the most deforestation in the Legal Amazon and with an upward trend, according to Imazon’s SAD (Deforestation Alert System) satellite monitoring.

To make the calculation, the study identified 5.68 rural properties from 68 to 2.500 hectares in which the CAR (Rural Environmental Registry), which is self-declaratory, is superimposed on non-designated state public areas, which are preferred by land grabbers. Together, the area analyzed is 1.8 million hectares, a size equivalent to almost municipalities in São Paulo.

According to Imazon, the ideal would be to make the calculation based on requests for possession of state lands registered with Iterpa (Instituto de Terras do Pará). The state agency, however, did not respond to repeated requests for access to data sent by the authors of the study.

The Imazon study recommends that the government of Pará start charging market prices in privatizations, in addition to to change the legislation to end the compensation for improvements by retaking invaded areas and starting to demand environmental regularization before issuing the title.

Barbalho, who participated in the COP26, the UN conference on climate change, has sold the image of opposition to the environmental dismantling promoted by the Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government. In 2020, the emedebist launched a plan to bring Pará to carbon neutrality in the use of land and forests until 2036.

In practice, Pará continues to lead deforestation among the Amazon states, with about 26% of the total.

In July 2019, Barbalho enacted a new Land Law, which, according to critics, opens the way for the regularization of even future invasions, in addition to ratifying privatization with prices well below those of the market.

Imazon sent to the government of Pará the study on state decree 1.684 in 22 from December. Sought by Folha, Barbalho did not respond, via the press office, because his government does not charge the market value in regularization processes and does not disclose data on land tenure requests

Instead, he stated that the measure “is an advance to contribute to the land regularization of rural producers and family farmers who meet the legal requirements”.

“The state understands that not promoting the land tenure regularization of those who meet the legal requirements is a characteristic of the absent government and, consequently, encourages illegal land grabbing, deforestation and other environmental crimes”, says the Barbalho government.

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