The World Bank is financing a land titling, or “regularization” program in the Brazilian State of Piauí, where large areas of land have been grabbed from local communities and illegally occupied by agribusiness. Local communities, including communities of descendants of runaway slaves (quilombolas) as well as indigenous peoples, are being violently displaced from their traditional lands and face contamination of water and soils, increasing violence against community leaders, deforestation and loss of biodiversity.
The escalation of land grabbing in Piauí and the northeastern part of the Brazilian Cerrado is directly related to the inflow of hundreds of millions of dollars from foreign pension funds, university endowments and other financial companies that are acquiring farmlands by way of Brazilian intermediaries. Internal documents show that the World Bank is aware of the extent of land grabbing in the area.
Through a 120 million USD loan, the World Bank thus supports a land titling program that risks sanctifying these land grabs and paving the way for a new rush of 'legalized' land grabbing, with more catastrophic social and environmental consequences.