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BRAZIL: Peasants Take Over Ranches of the Rich

EFE News Service
March 26th, 2002

RIO DE JANEIRO, -- Some 300 members of Brazil's Landless Peasants' Movement (MST) took over an estate belonging to an associate of the country's president in the state of Sao Paulo Monday, organization spokesmen said.

The invasion and occupation took place 24 hours after another group of MST members abandoned an estate belonging to the family of Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso in Minas Gerais following a one-day occupation that prompted the deployment of 300 soldiers and ended with the arrest of 16 MST leaders.

The property the MST took over Monday, Santa Maria Ranch, belongs to businessman Jovelino Carvalho Mineiro, an associate of the president's sons.

The new action by the MST, an organization that is demanding agrarian reform by occupying unproductive ranches, occurred in an area known as Pontal de Paranapanema, in western Sao Paulo, where conflicts between landowners and the MST are common.

The leader of the MST in Pontal de Paranapanema, Jose Rainha, told radio CBN that the occupation was in response to the arrest of the 16 leaders of the occupation of the president's family's ranch.

Rainha said that Carvalho Mineiro's ranch was not productive, but the National Institute of Colonization and Agrarian Reform has declared the opposite. It is not against Brazilian law to occupy unproductive land.

EFE News Service, 2002. All rights reserved.

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