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Although the full extent of HMC’s former landholdings remain concealed behind a complex web of private equity firms, associated subsidiary companies and investment partners, what is clear is that HMC’s purchases contributed to a climate of anxiety, fear, and strain on Brazilian subsistence farmers.

Several interviews in this article were translated from Portuguese by João Pedro Rocha Frazão ’26.

One morning in 2015, Ariomara “Mara” Alves Pessoa woke up as she usually would in her home in Santa Filomena, Piauí, Brazil. Since as far back as she can trace her lineage, Alves Pessoa’s family has lived on this land in Piauí; she has spent her entire life here. But that day, a stranger arrived with armed “security men” and identified himself as the owner of a nearby farm.

This was not the last she would hear from this man. He and his two “‘security men,’” she says, arrive often, always armed. Thus far, they have forced 12 families in her community, Barra da Lagoa, to move, Alves Pessoa says.

Resisting this eviction isn’t easy, Alves Pessoa tells us in an interview translated from Portuguese. “They walked with guns on their hips and wanted to scare us,” she says.

 

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