For the past three months, landless farmers from Brazil’s Movement of Landless Peasants (MST) have occupied an area of land used by the company Veracel. The land is classified as devolutas land, which is land that has no official land title and therefore belongs to the state. The state is supposed to allocate these lands to small-scale farmers, never to private companies. Despite the protests, despite the devolutas land issue and despite the ongoing problems that Veracel has created for local communities, Veracel remains certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.
This press release and photos come from the Alert against the Green Desert Network in Bahia.
POLICE EXPELS MST FROM AREA OF VERACEL CELULOSE
1.200 families of the Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST) were expelled in the afternoon of Wednesday (22/07) from the Farm Putumuju/Barrinha in the municipality of Eunápolis, Bahia, after 105 days of occupation in an area with devolutas lands of the company Veracel Celulose, property of Aracruz Celulose and the Swedish-Finnish multinational Stora Enso.
In Bahia, Veracel uses about 20 thousand of hectares of devolutas lands for the plantation of eucalyptus. According to the prevailing legislation, these lands should be retaken by the state of Bahia and destined to land reform and food production. Until this is not happening, about 12 thousand families in the state of Bahia are camping on the edge of the road waiting for a peace of land to grow food crops to feed their children.
In the area from which the people were expelled, during more than 3 months of occupation, the MST members planted on the place of the monoculture of eucalyptus trees a diversity of food crops such as beans, maize, manioc, pumpkin, watermelon, okra, sweet cabaça, gherkin, sweet potato and vegetables. Because of the police action, the people could only harvest 20 sacs of beans. Functionaries from Veracel, together with civil police men, were today (24/07) at the place of the occupation. According to them, they will destruct all the food crops that remained in the area. The families are on the edge of the road BR-101, in front of the area from which they got expelled. Many of these people, children, youth, women and elderly are faced with the intense traffic on this main road that connects Rio de Janeiro with Bahia´s state capital Salvador.
It is important to stress that Veracel´s and other company´s eucalyptus plantations have made agrarian land reform impracticable in the Extreme South of Bahia. Consequently, a worthy life for thousands of landless men and women and their children has become hardly impossible. In spite of this situation, the Veracel company succeeded to get recently a license to duplicate its plantations and cellulose production, making propaganda that it is the holder of the international FSC certificate which would guarantee a social just, an economically viable and environmentally adequate plantation management. But this episode shows exactly the contrary: Stora Enso and Aracruz are only interested in the eucalyptus trees and the profits they can make with these trees, producing cellulose, and that´s all.
Alert against the Green Desert Network-Bahia
24 July 2009
 Devolutas lands are lands that have no official land title and therefore belong to the state that should destine these lands to small –scale farmers, never to private companies