Magazine article New Internationalist

Brazil's Quilombola Hit by Major Land Tax

Magazine article New Internationalist

Brazil's Quilombola Hit by Major Land Tax

Article excerpt

In brief...

For decades, marginalized ethnic communities in Brazil have fought for - and won - land rights. But this victory is turning into something of a poisoned chalice for some remote Quilombola communities, who are now facing a giant tax bill.

The descendants of former slaves, the Quilombola's right to formal titles to their communal land was enshrined in the constitution in 1988. But the six per cent who have since managed to secure titles have fallen foul of taxes that were designed to combat land speculation. The law levies very high rates for unproductive lands, putting impoverished Quilombola communities with newly titled land in line for exorbitant bills.

The land tax has set wheels of debt and displacement in motion. One community took out a loan worth roughly $8 million to avoid being pursued for unpaid taxes and put up their land as collateral. …

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