A report by 30 Brazilian human rights groups published yesterday claims that 1,690 violent land disputes have taken place in the country so far this year.
The figure represents an 83 percent increase over 2002 (the four-year period refers to Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s first term of office as president).
At least 73 peasants have been murdered in clashes over land since Lula became president, though the number of murders has dropped slightly this year compared to 2005.
Rights groups, who hoped that Lula, a former union leader, would solve some of the chronic problems affecting the Brazilian countryside are disappointed by the statistics.
‘The Lula government has not lived up to expectations when it comes to bringing justice to the countryside, commented Joao Paulo Rodrigues of the Landless Peasants Movement (MST).
The report, which is published annually, is critical of Lula’s government for failing to meet its promise to distribute more land to peasant families (just 1 percent of the population owns almost half the land, though millions of Brazilians live in poverty).