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Brazil: New Law Grants Public Land in the Amazon to Adverse Possessors

(July 7, 2009) On June 25, 2009, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva signed Law No. 11,952, which regulates agrarian occupations in lands belonging to the government that are situated in the Amazon region. Law No. 11,952 was originally designed to benefit small farmers, but a few modifications during the legislative process changed the main focus of the legislation. To correct the deviation, President Lula vetoed a few articles to redirect the law to benefit the people who occupy small parcels of land without legal title over it. (Brazil's Lula Signs Amazon Bill, BBC NEWS, June 26, 2009, available at

The law defines, inter alia, direct and indirect occupation of land, as well as “quiet and pacific” occupation, direct and indirect exploitation, concession for use, and alienation of land. Articles 3 and 4 determine the types of land that can and cannot be regularized, and article 5 sets forth the requirements a land occupier must meet in order to obtain legal title. (Law No. 11,952, Brazilian Presidency website, (last visited July 1, 2009).)