In a powerful new documentary broadcast on 26 February, entitled Selling the Amazon, BBC Brasil went undercover to show how illegal land grabbers are moving in on public land in the Brazilian Amazon, including within protected areas — clearing rainforest and selling plots to ranchers at highly inflated prices. In a modern twist that is attracting international attention, the documentary showed plots of public land being openly advertised on Facebook. Illegally advertising the sale of public land in the Amazon on websites is not new. In a groundbreaking book Who Clears the Land Owns It, authors Mauricio Torres (a regular Mongabay contributor), Juan Doblas and Daniela Fernandes Alarcon reported how in June 2016 various real estate companies were doing Internet advertising to sell 100,000 hectares (247,000 acres) in Jacareacanga, in Pará state. The ad text made it clear that the property was located on public land, though the exact location wasn’t given. The 2016 advertisement, in disregard of the rule of law, instructed would-be purchasers how they could get round legislation enshrined in Brazil’s 1988 Constitution that limits the size of individual plots regularized under the government’s land reform program to 1,500 hectares. Potential buyers could, the ad suggested, pretend to divide the huge area into dozens of smaller plots of 1,500 hectares, each formally owned by a laranja (literally translated as an “orange” but meaning a “stooge”). By so doing, the purchase would be legal in the eyes of the state, with 66 individuals “owning” smaller plots all within…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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