Land Kills: The Brazilian Experience


Brazil is a country of continental proportions with a huge territory of over 8.5 million square kilometres (3.3 million square miles). The frequent violence in its countryside could be explained, in simple terms, as land conflicts among the poor, as well as between the wealthy the and the poor. Landless worker movements in Brazil are well organized and assist peasants in invading what is considered to be "unproductive land". Meanwhile, large landholders are also well organized and try to protect their "right to private land", including armed self-defense. This natural resource - the land - is the main reason for killings in the countryside, which mostly impacts the poorest members of Brazilian society. Although in civil war literature natural resources are usually considered to be one of the determining factors of these conflicts, land itself tends not to be mentioned. This paper analyzes the effect of land concentration on casualties caused by land conflicts. Brazilian municipalities are examined during the redemocratization period, making use of regression analysis regarding subnational data.