Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Amazon giveaway draws outrage

May 22, 2009

A law expected to be approved by Brazil's Congress granting 1.2 million people and numerous companies titles to a huge chunk of the Amazon rainforest could provoke a new wave of land-grabbing and deforestation, conservationists warn.

Over three decades, settlers, farmers and speculators have occupied, stolen and sold state land they did not legally own, fuelling the destruction of about a fifth of the world's largest rainforest. Land titles are often non-existent or fake.

The government says the new bill will benefit impoverished peasants who were encouraged to settle the Amazon during the 1964-85 military dictatorship but were never provided with legal support, public security or financial aid.

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