Volume 1, Number 1 (2008)

Brazil’s Experience with Agrarian Reform, 1995-2006: Challenges for Agrarian Geography

Bernardo Mançano Fernandes and Clifford Andrew Welch

São Paulo State University (UNESP)


This paper analyses one of the challenges facing agrarian geographers of Brazil: explaining land-tenure systems in light of persistently high levels of land occupations by landless peasants, the implementation of agrarian reform projects by the  Fernando Henrique  Cardoso (1995-2002) and  Luís  Lula  Inácio  da  Silva  (2003-present) presidential administrations and the expansion of  agribusiness.  It  examines  the  actions  of families  organized  in  the  Landless  Workers Movement (MST – Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais   Sem-Terra)   and   territorialization  / deterritorialization  processes  from  1995  to 2006. We discuss how large land-holding have long determined who holds political power in Brazil  and  how  a  “rural  block”  continues  to thwart  attempts  to  resolve  Brazil’s  agrarian question. Consequently, the article concludes, conflictuality is a part of Brazilian rural life that is unlikely to go away.

Keywords:   Agrarian   Geography,  Land reform,  MST,  Land  occupation,  Agrarian Reform Settlements, Land-tenure Structure, Landless families, Agribusiness