DOI: 10.12924/johs2016.12010037 |Publication Date: 18 April 2016

A Piece of Land or Peace on the Land: How Much Is a Peasant's Life Worth in Brazil?

Artur Zimerman
Engineering, Modeling and Applied Social Sciences Center (CECS), Universidade Federal do ABC (UFABC), São Paulo State, Brazil
Abstract: Land inequality in Brazil is alarming and several poor individuals living in rural areas do not have enough income to survive decently. The struggle to access land should lead to a paradigm shift with social movements leading this process since democratization. Their strategies vary, but usually focus on complementary activities of mass mobilization that culminate in the occupation of unproductive land that is not fulfilling its social function in order to force expropriation and the creation of new settlements. This study aims to investigate, through empirical evidence, if such strategies are having the desired effect of allowing the poor to access land, without increasing the already high numbers, and potentially aggravating the violent characteristics, of such disputes. During the Cardoso and Lula presidential administrations the relation between the number of new settlements and the number of deaths caused by land disputes increased. However, there is still a long way to go to improve this policy and achieve positive results. Overall, is this struggle for the reduction of inequality in the Brazilian countryside being won? Is the sacrifice paying off? And what is the price regarding the relation between land conflict victims and the creation of new rural settlements?

Keywords: Agrarian conflicts; agrarian reform; Brazil; mobilization; land inequality; social movements


2012 - 2017 by the authors; licensee Librello, Switzerland. This open access article was published under a Creative Commons Attribution License (