John C. Martin

Document Type



Economist Hernando de Soto urges land re-titling programs in developing countries so that squatting farmers and businesspeople may be integrated into a lawful economy. Re-titling programs, however, can go awry, fueling class and racial backlash, and undermining economic stability and trust in property titles. This Note explores the risks and challenges Brazil faces in expropriating and re-titling land occupied by squatters. It addresses the legality of expropriation under international law, draws comparisons with land reform in the United States and Zimbabwe, and addresses the specific hurdles Brazil faces concerning its Constitution, civil code, and judicial system. This Note proposes a legal solution resembling the U.S. Homestead Act. It would involve expropriating land for less than fair market value in order to facilitate a more equal distribution of land and to temper the risk of racial backlash.