In an affable voice, “Joao” lists the advantages of the land he is selling, in the heart of the Amazon rainforest. “These are huge estates, large farms”, says the one who presents himself with this first name in a WhatsApp voice message. We contacted him posing as potentially interested customers after an ad posted on Facebook.
If he remains discreet about his identity, Joao is not stingy with details about the land he sells. They are not “not deforested”but he proposes “to do the slaughter at [ses] risks ». Their area can be up to 8,000 hectares (more than 11,000 football pitches) and their selling price is 1,200 reais per hectare (about 220 euros), he says. The sale of these lands claimed by the State of Para is in principle illegal, but this curious offer is made in full view of all, on the largest social network in the world. Like Joao, there are dozens of them selling Amazonian land on Facebook.
A phenomenon detected by Dom Phillips in 2019. At the time, the British journalist spotted an advertisement for the sale of protected land posted by a certain Nair Rodrigues Petry, known as “ Nair Brizola”. The continuation of Dom Phillips’ investigation of this landowner reveals the existence of an organized system of land grabbing from which she clearly benefited and which would be orchestrated by a man already implicated in a series of fires which decimated the region in 2019.
In August of that year, the Amazon burned down. In one weekend, August 10 and 11, 2019, now known as Dia do Fogo (the “day of fire”), the National Institute for Space Research of Brazil (INPE) lists 1,457 “hot spots” in the state, an increase of almost 2,000% compared to the same period of the year former. Federal prosecutors suspect criminal action and are opening an investigation, which is still ongoing.
In Cachoeira da Serra, a locality in the state of Para where the fires are raging, a landowner challenges journalists reporting: the perpetrators of the fires are officials from the Chico Mendes Institute, the federal body responsible for conservation. biodiversity in Brazil. The Brazilian media discover, however, that the owner in question, Nair Brizola, received a few days after the “fire day” a fine of more than one million reais (about 240,000 euros at the time). of the Chico Mendes Institute for destroying ” by fire “ nearly 71 hectares in a biological reserve. And that she has declared herself the owner of a gigantic piece of land entirely located in this reserve, which is nevertheless prohibited to private property.
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