National Geographic : 2012 Apr
' land.' " She showed her documents to an INCRA inspector. " ey looked it up and said to the sur- veyors, 'Wait a minute; you can't steal this land.' " In 2009 President Lula signed Provisional Law 458, a remarkably ambitious attempt to straighten out land tenure in Amazonia---a root cause of the violence and ecological destruction of the past 40 years. It grants title to quilombos whose members already occupy the land and have less than 200 acres apiece. e law has been challenged in court on behalf of industrial and environmental groups, both of which argue vehemently that it rewards squatters for taking land illegally. But as implementation gets under way in most states, the hope is that it can bring a centuries-long struggle to a victorious close. Pulling these thousands of settlements out of the shadows will allow the state to invest in schools and clinics, something it can't legally do while their existence is contested. We spoke to Costa Cabral soon a er the law was signed. She had not heard the news. But as we told her about it, she nodded vigorously. "It's about time," she said. j Trailed by his brother, Roney Mafra totes the head of a bull slaughtered by a relative in Soledade. e meat will feed attendees of Bumba-Meu-Boi, a festival retelling the allegory of a dead bull brought back to life.