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Promised Land | Tyranny in Tocantins

katia

An urgent question: Will Katia Abreu (PMDB-TO) be called upon to serve as Minister of Agriculture in the next Brazilian administration? Abreu is an unlikely bedfellow for a governing coalition led by a party with a history of championing agrarian reform and settlement of landless rural workers.

Along with presiding over the CNA lobbying group, the most powerful voice of agribusiness, Abreu is a sitting Senator and leader of the agribusiness benches in the legislature. That is to say, she is, paradoxically, someone with the luxury of lobbying herself and in charge of auditing her own compliance.

As her confirmation hearing nears, however, Abreu has been the object of concerted criticism by the social movements, as Conexão Tocantins reports. Liberation theologists Boff and Frei Betto have denounced the nomination in no uncertain terms.  As the Buenos Aires Herald reports,

[Dilma] declined to comment on the possibility of Senator Katia Abreu (PMDB) taking over the Agriculture Ministry. Reports about Abreu’s designation have led to widespread criticism from social organizations linked to workers’ rights, which believe she will favour big agricultural multi-nationals to the detriment of small producers.

Against this backdrop, some insight into the conduct of the latifúndio in some of Brazil’s remotest townships.

Promised Land

Source: Polícia Federal

Cuiabá/MT – The Polícia Federal today unleashed Operation Promised Land, whose objective is to take down a criminal organization responsible for fraudulent practices in the concession of lots earmarked for agrarian reform. It is thought that more than a thousand units are affected by the scheme. The damage to the  public coffers could reach R$ 1 billion.

Some 350 federal police are serving 227 bench  warrants: 52 for preventive custody, 146 for search and seizure, and 29 restraining orders. The warrants are being served in Mato Grosso (in  Cuiabá, Várzea Grande, Nova Mutum, Diamantino, Lucas do Rio Verde, Itanhangá, Ipiranga do Norte, Sorriso, Tapurah and Campo Verde) as well as Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Among the targets are eight civil servants. It is estimated that 80 farmers are involved in the scheme.

Investigations found that the criminal group, composed of farmers, corporate executives and agribusiness groups, worked to obtain a valid reconcentração fundiária o– reunification of lands –involving federal lands destined for agrarian reform. The suspects are charged with fraud, use of physical force and weapons violations. The land in question was sold cheaply or invaded by squatters.

Over the past ten years, in order to sustain illegal commerce and  concentration of lands earmarked for agrarian reform. The organization used false documents, simulated inspections, forged abandonment of claim contract and entered phony data into the System of Information for Agrarian Reform  (SIPRA/INCRA), making it possible for major landowners, agribusiness groups and even multinational corporations, to illegally occupy land belonging to the Union and destined for agrarian reform.

The PF also found that the scheme made use of corrupt INCRA agents, members of trade federations and civil servants operating in the city council and prefectures.

In the run-up to her confirmation hearings, Abreu has accumulated other accusations:

… she is suspected of ties to slave labor. In 2012, the State Regional Labor Superintendent freed 56 persons living in a state analogous to slavery on  the Agua Amarela farm in Tocantins. Investigations by labor inspectors discovered that, even though registered in the name of a front company, the property belongs to a Paulo Alexandre Bernardes da Silva Júnior and André Luiz de Castro Abreu, the Senator’s brother.

This scandal dates back to 2012. In 2013, as a federal deputy,

Irajá Silvestre Filho, better known as Irajá Abreu (PSD/TO), was sworn in as secretary of the recently created secretary of Agrarian Development and Regulation of Land Titles in the state government of Tocantins. In a joint statement, Via Campesina, Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST) and Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens (MAB) denounced the nomination by Governor Siqueira Campos (PSDB) and expressed concerned with the manner in which the distribution of land titles is being carried out, calling it “a legalization of squatting” on public lands.The Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT) said the nomination concerned it, given that Irajá Abreu is the son of Senator Kátia Abreu (PSD/TO), who is president of the CNA and a principle leader of the so-called ruralist benches in Congress.