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Land Grabbing in Brazil

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Spring Semester 2017-2018

First Draft


COURSE NAME: Senior Project on Power and Development

TOPIC: “Land Grabbing in Brazil”


1) Devid Abbasov, IR, 21402965

2) Kıvanç Alduran, POLS, 21300589

3) Abidin Dedekargınoğlu, IR, 21302505

4) Fidan Mammadova, IR, 21402978

5) Umur Sarp Ünsal, ECON, 21302485

Table of Contents

Table of Contents        i

Abstract        ii

Introduction        1

Literature Review        3

Methodology        5

Results        7

Conclusion        11

References        13

Appendix A        16

Appendix B        17



Drawing on the advantages and disadvantages of land grabbing, this paper seeks to evaluate the impact of land grabbing issues on the indigenous people in the Amazonian region in Brazil, specifically, in MaToPiBa (Maranhão –Tocantins–Piauí–Bahia) region since 1990’s. This paper is a desk study utilizing qualitative data to examine the issue of land grabbing in MaToPiBa. Our research question, thus, is Does land grabbing have more positive or negative effects on the indigenous people in Amazonia, Brazil since 1990’s?”

We made an extensive research on the case in order to support our hypothesis. The hypothesis states that although, there might be some benefits, disadvantages, eventually, outweigh the advantages caused by land grabbing. This case study will provide an example for other states that are going through the same or similar challenges, associated with environmental, economic, social and legal concerns. Moreover, those challenges resulted from the exploitative Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) aiming at land purchases abroad out of their home states’ internal food security rationale.


In this paper, we aim to draw attention on land grabbing in Brazil. As a contemporary incident, land grabbing renders developing countries and sometimes poorer parts of developed countries open for exploitation by rich investors from all over the world. There are many cases, but we mainly focus on land grabbing incidents in Brazil. Brazil is an interesting case, for it is the largest country in South America that has been facing land grabbing since 1990’s.

There are two periods of agricultural legislative policies in Brazilian history: the period between 1969 and 1995, and the period after 1995. The first period, implemented by a military regime, had put overprotective policies to the acquisition of land by foreigners (Wilkinson 2012). Hence, that era had been dominated by sharp nationalist ideals against FDI. In 1995, Social-Democrat Fernando Henrique Cardoso became the president with a coalition government that promised to integrate Brazil into the international neo-liberal economic market. In 1998, President Cardoso and his government relinquished any form of effective control by federal government on land purchase by foreign companies in Brazil (Clements & Fernandes, 2013). Hence, Cardoso’s presidency oversaw the beginning of the de-regulations on agribusiness-related FDI and it led to the large-scale land acquisition by foreign investors without any restrictions (Clements & Fernandes, 2013). His government abolished obstacles related to privatization that paved the way for international capitalism to enter the country easier (Wilkinson et al., 2012). Introducing neo-liberalism, Cardoso’s government ended up with an increase in the number of land grabbing deals.

Land grabbing is a crucial phenomenon, since it is becoming a worldwide practice. Advocates of land grabbing claim that world needs biofuels and other exclusive food products that can be provided by controlling lands abroad. Therefore, there have been different attempts undertaken to make people believe that there is almost no harm from land grabbing, if not the opposite – actual technological and agricultural development. However, as we have concluded, harm outweighs the possible benefits.

Literature Review

Land grabbing and its effects in Brazil can be elaborated based on three main theories: neo-liberalism, neo-colonialism and environmentalism.

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