Today in Brazil, less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of the arable land. Landless peasants are given no choice but to sell their labor to these landowners in order to survive.

Recently, Brazilian peasants have formed the MST (Landless Workers' Movement) in order to provide an alternative to the existing economic structure. Through occupations and invasions of unused land, they have made it impossible for the Brazilian media to ignore the issue of land reform. Land that was formerly held only for speculation is now used by thousands of families to grow their own food.

Faced with such a threat to the peace and stability of the Brazilian capitalist class, the World Bank has been pushing its own model of agrarian reform to replace the efforts of the MST. It is a model that will ensure that the landless class of Brazilians remains indebted and subservient to those at the top of the existing power structure. It is described here by João Pedro Stedile:

According to this new process, the large land owners choose what land they would sell. The landless peasants have to borrow money from the World Bank, with market-type interest rates, and pay up-front for the land. Apparently, this would resolve land conflicts in Brazil: if farmers need land, they can just buy it! But it raises serious concerns. First, large land owners have always kept their land for speculative purposes. It's also a way to exert control over the population in the countryside. So, whoever decides to sell will probably sell the worst land for high prices. This will create a vicious cycle: the landless farmers won't be able to pay back their loans and the large land owners will have cash to buy more, and better land.

The World Bank project follows two basic ideas: it depends on the will of the large landowners to sell their land and allows them to determine the market price. This formula will never solve the serious social conflicts we face in the countryside.

...If the World Bank wants to help, it could provide resources for infrastructure--such as education, irrigation, health care projects, and credit for production--after the disappropriation process. Instead, the World Bank chose to put money into the large landowners' pockets.

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