Assets to Axes: How Harvard’s Land Investments Inspired Fear in Brazil’s Cerrado

The two advocacy groups reported that, according to sustainability research group Chain Reaction Research, Harvard has funded the deforestation of 53,000 hectares of Brazilian land. That is as if Harvard deforested the city of Cambridge about 28 times.

The Harvard Crimson

One morning in 2015, Ariomara “Mara” Alves Pessoa woke up as she usually would in her home in Santa Filomena, Piauí, Brazil. Since as far back as she can trace her lineage, Alves Pessoa’s family has lived on this land in Piauí; she has spent her entire life here. But that day, a stranger arrived with armed “security men” and identified himself as the owner of a nearby farm.

This was not the last she would hear from this man. He and his two “‘security men,’” she says, arrive often, always armed. Thus far, they have forced 12 families in her community, Barra da Lagoa, to move, Alves Pessoa says.

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