Bolsonaro Government retreats and cancels suspension of agrarian reform

Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Info Source: 
Daniel Camargos and Diego Junqueira | Repórter Brasil

After Repórter Brasil reveals internal documents determining the suspension, INCRA changes its mind and cancels the memorandums. Civil servants assess that the government is lost.

Five days after suspending the country's agrarian reform policy, the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (INCRA) has stepped back and canceled the stoppage, hampering the creation of rural settlements and the titling of quilombola territories throughout the country.

In a memorandum sent yesterday (January 8) at 10:13 pm to INCRA's 30 regional superintendents, the deputy chairman of the body, Francisco José Nascimento, clarifies that "there is no determination of the Federal Government to suspend the actions of agrarian reform and land tenure policies." The document also repeals two memoranda that had been sent on January 3 and which suspended all land acquisition and procurement processes for the establishment of rural settlements. The paralysis of the agrarian reform was revealed yesterday morning (January 8) by Repórter Brasil.

The justification for the stoppage was to wait for the definition of the new INCRA structure, which in the government of President Jair Bolsonaro left the Civil House [presidential staff] and passed to the Ministry of Agriculture.

Among INCRA's servants, the feeling is that the government is "lost." Repórter Brasil spoke today (January 9) with three officials, who asked not to be identified. They estimate that the initial decision to suspend agrarian reform and the subsequent decision to repeal the measure left the officials astonished.

On Monday (January 7), one of the superintendents of the body asked Cletho Muniz de Brito, Director of Planning of INCRA's Land Structure, more details about the memorandum that paralyzed the actions of the board. "We need clarifications on which processes are effectively suspended and which actions are effectively suspended, since the structure of land ownership involves several actions: rural cadaster [land registry], cartography, certification of rural properties, land regularization and regularization of quilombola territories," the superintendent wrote in an internal circular.

A possible suspension of agrarian reform would immediately affect 250 land acquisition processes for rural settlements and more than 1,700 demarcation processes for quilombola territories. For the Landless Workers Movement (MST), a suspension of the agrarian reform would deepen the violence in the countryside, according to the evaluation of a national leader, Alexandre Conceição.

Despite having backtracked, INCRA maintained the determination that the superintendents send, until today, a detailed survey on all the properties that can be destined for the agrarian reform.

INCRA's officials assign the order to suspend agrarian reform to the special Secretary of Land Regulation of the Ministry of Agriculture, Luiz Antônio Nabhan Garcia. The secretary was tipped to the post of minister, but the front-runner of Congress preferred to name the former chairwoman, the federal congresswoman Tereza Cristina (DEM-MS).

Nabhan Garcia advised Bolsonaro during the electoral campaign, mainly in the contacts with the agribusiness. Garcia was the protagonist in the struggle with the MST during the 1990s in the land disputes at Pontal do Paranapanema, in São Paulo state. At the time, he was accused by a farmer of organizing private militias in the region and was even summoned to provide clarifications to the Joint Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry of the Earth. Repórter Brasil asked for an interview as Nabhan Garcia for the press office of the Ministry of Agriculture, but got no return.


Subject: Revokes Memoranda-Circulars no. 6/2019/DT/SEDE/INCRA (2522126) and no. 08/2019/DF/SEDE/INCRA (2522549)

1.         Whereas Circular No 6/2019/DT/SEDE/INCRA (2522126) and 08/2019/DF/SEDE/INCRA (2522549) were prepared and forwarded on their own initiative and without the consent of the Presidency of INCRA;

2.         In the light of the misinterpretation of part of the guidelines contained therein and in order to avoid prejudicing the conduct of the administrative procedures in question;

3.         I determine the immediate revocation of the aforementioned memoranda- circular, as well as determine the suspension of the overlapping of administrative proceedings of the two boards affected by the aforementioned memoranda.

4.         We clarify that there is no determination of the Federal Government to suspend the actions of agrarian reform and land tenure policies.