Conflict within the Aramanaí Environmental Protection Area in Belterra provokes conciliation hearing that did not happen.

On the morning of Friday (21.07.2017) a hearing was held before the City Council of Belterra, Pará - Brazil. Guests were two parties to a litigation that concerned territory inside of an Environmentally Protected Area. One party, Mrs. Elizabete (Betinha) claimed to own a lot of land within the Cajutuba community; the other party, consists of members of the local community association. There had been a football field for 42 years, according to the president of the association, Mr. Admilson, and six members of the Cajutuba community; there is also a Catholic church and a community shed for more than ten years on the property in contention.

The area of the Aramanaí community in litigation

The area of the Aramanaí community in litigation

Mrs. Betinha proposed to donate another area behind the church in exchange for the area of the soccer field, which she had already sold to someone else. After collection of testimony by the City Council, with each party giving their version of the conflict, and, as there had been an assault by unknowns who knocked down the two crossings of the football field and opened a ditch in the middle of the field, the members of the association opened proceedings in the Public Prosecutor's Office. An investigation was ordered by the federal police but the community did not accept an exchange agreement that was proposed. In the opinion of the lawyer Dr. Nonato who follows the case, if the occupation involves public land, Mrs. Betinha can not declare herself the owner of the property. But, if the property title is legitimately in Mrs. Betinha’s name, the community has the right to use Usucaption (adverse possession, i.e., the right to or ownership of property on the basis of possession of it for a prescribed period of time) without objection by the owner for at least ten years. At the end of the hearing the councilors present said that they were there to mediate. As there was no agreement the case went to court.

As Cajutuba is within an area of environmental protection (APA), the case goes to the Federal Public Ministry. One participant took the floor and said: “If Cajutuba is a public area of the Federal Union, then Mrs. Betinha can not have a legitimate document and the community has the right of tenure for the time of use. If Mrs. Betinha has a legitimate property document and therefore the area is no longer public, then the community becomes legitimate owner by Usucapião (adverse possession), since the community has used the area without objection for more than ten years. The community has the right not to agree.” The lawyer and the community members agreed with the decision, but Mrs. Betinha did not.

This is one of the conflicts between traditional communities and real estate agents and companies interested in occupying areas conducive to the construction of bulk ports in the region of Santarém. This region is coveted by investors and exporters of extractive products from the north and center-west of Brazil. The navigable rivers for large ships make the way between the markets of Europe, Asia and North America closer. Santarém is the location of the modern port that CARGILL uses to export 2 million and eight hundred thousand tons of soy and corn a year.