Brazil: Land Regularization at Risk

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Brazil: Land Regularization at Risk
By: Brazilian civil society
17 February 2017

Deconstruction of Land Regularization in Brazil: Presidential Act No.759/2016

This open letter is meant to summon social movements and all those who believe in Urban and

Rural Reform to demand Brazilian Federal Government to withdraw Provisional Presidential Act

No.759/2016 from Congress and stop the voting process. Instead, the government should promote a large-scale debate about land ownership, property and possession, guided by constitutional principles of

social function of property and individual and collective human rights.

Brazilian Domestic Policy on Land Regularization: The Result of a Democratic Process

Since the 1970s, urban areas underwent rapid population growth, resulting in the emergence of

informal settlements (slums, irregular land subdivision, and irregular housing projects) all over the country. As a result of chaotic and exclusionary urban growth, 11 million people live in informal settlements in Brazil, a figure that represents 6% of the Brazilian population. Such scale of informality is a challenge to all government agencies, especially by introducing land regularization as a priority in housing policies.

In 2001, the Statute of the City (Law No. 10257/01) was enacted, which was the result of a broad and

long public debate. The Statute of the City provided specificity to a constitutional chapter on Urban Policy dealing with the social function of property and participatory urban planning, as well as established land regularization and urbanization of settlements occupied by the poor as a basic rule. After a decade, this law was established as the legal guide for Brazilian land regularization policy.

In the following years, several other statutes were enacted, guided by the Constitution and the Statute of the City. In 2007, the laws pertaining to Federal Union Real Estate Property were updated, in order to include legal tools to promote social-interest land regularization on public-owned land and, in 2009, a specific law was enacted to regulate public-owned land in the Amazon Region. Further in 2009, a national law regarding land regularization was enacted and became a guideline to municipalities to promote regularization policies, because it established principles, procedures and self-operating tools that set apart regularization with social-interest purposes, speeding its administrative and registry procedures as well as increasing local authority’s autonomy.

Surprisingly, at the very end of 2016, a Provisional Presidential Act was enacted, deconstructing that entire legal structure, which represented the result of a long-term public debate that consolidated collective understanding and agreement of multiple stakeholders.

The Provisional Presidential Act 759/2017 has the constitutional defect that creates a legal mess because, without any compelling justification, it revokes consolidated and democratic laws, replacing them with a non-self-executing law enacted without any public debate. Furthermore, the Provisional

Presidential Act burdens the poor, because the special procedures for land regularization of social interest are not as clear, while it makes it easier to regularize high-class settlements and pardons land speculation, including the ones in the Amazon Region.

Therefore, rights are at risk with Provisional Presidential Act 759. It breaks a democratic legal system that promoted access to land, undermining a participatory process in the enactment of law. Furthermore, it enables the privatization of the land owned by the Federal Government and puts

the Amazon Forest and its traditional population at risk.

The Provisional Presidential Act was enacted with no public debate: The joint committee that conceived the text of the law did not consult the population directly affected, the Public Defense Office, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the National Council of Cities, any social movements or any civil servants directly involved with land regularization. Marred by constitutional defects, the Provisional Presidential Act promises things that it does not deliver – leaving it all to future (and unknown) regulations.

Say no to Provisional Presidential Act 759!

Not a single right less!

In favor of land regularization for the poor, a fundamental right!

Democracy defense!

In favor of the social function of the property in the city, rural land and forest!

Send your support by signing the letter at (link

Assine a Petição Pública)

Photo: Periurban land use in Brazil. Source: Colégio Notarial do Brasil.

• Access to natural resources
• Informal settlements
• Land rights
• Legal frameworks
• National
• Norms and standards
• Security of tenure

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