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Housing and Land Battles Loom in Brazil

As the backlog of housing in Brazil continues to increase, ranchers and the poor in search of housing outside of urban areas clash.
September 7, 2003, 7am PDT | Connie Chung
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Brazil "is in the midst of a great migration as poor people stream from both the cities and the countryside, crisscrossing this vast and fertile nation to claim farmland owned by others. The crisis in this country of 175 million pits militant peasants and the unemployed against a wealthy minority that owns 90 percent of Brazil's arable land and is increasingly taking up arms and hiring militias to protect its property.... Nearly 166,000 Brazilian families populate squatter camps throughout the country, according to the country's largest anti-poverty organization, the Landless Workers' Movement....That represents 98,000 more families than lived in squatter camps nationwide at the end of last year....escalating tensions seem almost inevitable in a country where the chasm between rich and poor is wide. Twenty percent of the population owns 90 percent of all arable land in Brazil, while the poorest 40 percent owns only 1 percent."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Wednesday, October 12, 2005 in The Washington Post
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