The Tarcísio de Freitas government (Republicans) accelerated the process of regularizing vacant lands, with a discount of up to 90% for occupants and based on a law questioned by PT and MST.
The legislation was approved by Alesp (São Paulo Legislative Assembly) in 2022 and sanctioned in the management of Rodrigo Garcia (PSDB). However, the management of Tarcísio, elected with the support of the agro, started to put the processes into practice.
Unoccupied lands are public areas occupied irregularly that have never had a destination defined by the government and have never had a private owner. The government then initiates an action to discriminate against these lands, giving preference to those who currently occupy them.
The responsible body is Itesp (Fundação Institute of Lands of the State of São Paulo), which has already considered ten regularization processes based on the law.
The properties were valued at R$ 64 million. The total discounts provided, however, add up to R$ 50 million – owners would have to pay only R$ 14 million. The land totals 3,900 hectares, equivalent to 25 areas of Ibirapuera Park.
There are still 132 processes that have not reached this stage.
The PT filed a direct action of unconstitutionality at the STF (Federal Supreme Court) to bar the law. So far, there are favorable opinions from the PGR (Attorney General of the Republic) and the AGU (Attorney General of the Union).
A video attached to the process shows Itesp’s executive director, Guilherme Piai, guiding streamlining processes before the law falls. Deputy deputy for the Republicans, Piai was an electoral supporter for Tarcísio and Bolsonaro in Pontal do Paranapanema, in the western region of the state.
“Now a political issue is happening, which also escapes the jurisdiction of Itesp, which this law has a great chance of falling”, he said in the recording, citing that it is necessary to act in the process “while the law is in force”.
Sought after, Itesp stated that the director suggests in the video that, as long as the law allows, the procedural instruction for the agreements is carried out and “in short, the resumption of legal security, peace and development”.
After Itesp, the agreements are sent to the Department of Agriculture for manifestation and the final decision will be made by the State Attorney General. The foundation argues that, instead of losing money, it will save R$40 million with just eight of these properties.
“More appropriate than pointing out the amount of discount given by the state to these individuals, it is to point out the amount that the state will no longer spend with the continuation of the litigation and the need to pay compensation for improvements, as well as how much it will raise for investments in social policies”, says Itesp, in a note.
According to the agency, there are cases of properties suitable for settlement that have not yet been declared vacant. In Pontal do Paranapanema alone, 84 lawsuits discriminate against 1.2 million hectares, of which 29 were dismissed, says the foundation.
“Therefore, there is no certainty of success in filing discriminatory lawsuits and the agreement for regularization avoids the procedural risk”, says Itesp.
The leader of the PT in Alesp, Paulo Fiorilo, says he hopes that the STF takes an urgent decision and that what has already been done will be undone.
“The law has to be overturned because it is a scandal what we are seeing with the delivery of public lands at affordable prices. Public lands that could be used for agrarian reform, for the production of small farmers, are being handed over to large landowners for a bargain price”, he says.
The MST is also strongly opposed to the legislation, dubbed the “grilagem law” and seen as an obstacle to new settlements in the state.
The PT’s action states that the law is unconstitutional. In the piece with a request for an injunction against the law, signed by lawyer Marcio Calisto Cavalcante and others, the party says that the government outlined a strategy to encourage people to speed up the processes.
The Attorney General of the State of São Paulo maintains that the regulation of the law made clear the fulfillment of the social function of the rural property, as there is a report that proves the “rational and adequate use of the property”.
The opinion of the Attorney General of the Republic, Augusto Aras, on the other hand, was positive to the PT’s request and says that the law and the decree that regulates it “seem to invade the competence of the Union” and violate precepts that involve compatibility with the reform agrarian.
The AGU claims that the model in the law fails to advocate the need for this type of procedure to comply with the norms of the agrarian reform policy. The action in the STF is in charge of Minister Cármen Lúcia.
Among the benefited farmers, six are in Marabá Paulista, in Pontal do Paranapanema, a point of tension between landowners and rural workers’ movements.
One of the properties in the city considered suitable for regularization, for example, was the São João farm, owned by cattle breeder Cláudia Tosta Junqueira. According to the Official Gazette, the land was valued at BRL 20.1 million, with an agreed value set at BRL 4.4 million.
The farmer flaunts photos with politicians and militancy for land regularization on the networks. In one of them, she is next to the mayor, Arthur Lira (PP). “In the struggle for land regularization and respect for private property,” she wrote.
Cláudia also published, in 2022, an invitation to sanction the property regularization law, in which she declared “eternal gratitude” to Rodrigo Garcia and deputy Vinicius Camarinha (Cidadania), one of the authors of the law, for being “men of their word “.
A Sheet Cláudia says she acquired the farm 21 years ago from Portuguese people who had been there for another 42 years, but that, unlike what happened to neighbors in the same situation, the area was not titled in her name.
The farm, he says, is used for agriculture and cattle raising. Cláudia considers the agreements advantageous to the government and that federal legislation already allowed the title.
“It’s good for the landless movement, for the PT, that the government makes these agreements, because it raises funds to provide conditions for the settlements. And then they, if they want, [podem] buy other farms, they will be able to legally reach the person: ‘Look, we have this fund, we want to buy it to carry out the settlement’.”
Deputy Camarinha, on the other hand, stated that he had not discussed the law with Cláudia and that it was signed by a collective of deputies, after dialogue with the opposition, MST, State Attorney and agribusiness.