Land-grabbing in Brazil goes by a curious name: grilagem, or “cricketing.” The story goes that as a way of making forged property titles seem genuine, large landowners would leave them for a month inside a drawer filled with crickets. The insects would nibble on the edges of the papers and produce a substance that yellowed the titles, making them appear much older than they actually were. Thus, the landowners could untruthfully claim they were the rightful proprietors of the territory in question, and that they had been for some time.
These days, people don’t need to go to such lengths to unlawfully seize territories in Brazil. And now, thanks to a decree signed this week by far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, land-grabbing just got a whole lot easier.