Land and the Forest-Dwelling South American Indian--An Anthropological and Legal Perspective
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Land and the Forest-Dwelling South American Indian--An Anthropological and Legal Perspective (Comparative Law, Anthropology, International Protection of Human Rights, Land Tenure, Deforestation)

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About This E-book Version

This book is an electronic download, with these advantages:

Quality. This format facilitates dissemination of quality material. You simply cannot find reliable and detailed free legal analysis on the Internet. Encrypted PDF format provides financial incentive for authors to devote the required resources.

Convenience. Print only pages you really need to carry. You do not need to store and carry a large volume. Keep the entire reference work on your hard drive. Or, print the entire book if you prefer. (The file contains cover art for your binder's clear display sleeves.) Adjust type size and screen brightness while reading on your own screen. There is no expiration date. Materials are accessible on your hard drive forever. You will own the book outright.

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About the Book

This book examines the national legal systems of twelve South American republics and the real property systems of the native groups therein. The focus is on the clash between native and national concepts of land tenure.

The book is a legal guide for anyone working or studying in the area of indigenous development. You can use it for either analysis or action. To facilitate this, the text is in plain English -- intelligible to the anthropologist, lawyer, and layperson. There are generous explanations of legal and anthropological concepts. It includes a primer on latin american property law.

This volume establishes a general framework for the entire South American forest area. It also provides specific information about the law of each country in question. It ends with a set of tangible proposals for legal reform. These specific proposals are ready for immediate discussion and implementation on the national or international level.

This study also functions as a guide for further research on the role of law amongst Amerindians. To produce this book, the author collected, translated, and analyzed every scrap of indigenous legislation available. He also obtained and reviewed every civil code for the countries in question. This work cites hundreds of unknown and inaccessible legal and ethnological materials. This reference work provides the foundation for lawyers, anthropologists or activists to prepare country monographs, using or discarding the framework as they see fit. It provides the means to build on its foundation, and update the text with new developments.

The countries included in this study are Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana, French Guyana, and Surinam.

This book was first released in 1980. Since that date, it remains the only reference work on this subject.

This book is an electronic download. To purchase it, use the link at the top of this page.

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About the Author

Photo of Joseph C. Grasmick
Joseph C. Grasmick

Joe Grasmick graduated cum laude from the SUNY at Buffalo law school, where he served as Senior Law Review editor and earned his Master's degree in Anthropology.

His international expertise developed during many years of overseas experience. This included 3 years in the Peace Corps and international legal study in Mexico and Europe. He applied international and South American legal systems to the needs of South American indigenous groups during stints as a Fulbright scholar, Ford Foundation Intern, OAS fellow and Interamerican Foundation research fellow. He also served assignments with the International Labor Organization, Survival International, the Anti-Slavery Society and United Nations/ECOSOC Commission on Human Rights Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. Fluent in Spanish and Guaraní, he did his anthropological fieldwork research while living in various forest-dwelling Paraguayan indigenous communities for one year. That research focused on dispute processes between these communities, and outsiders.

Mr. Grasmick has been a practicing lawyer for over 20 years. Admitted to practice in both NY and Florida, Martindale-Hubbel gives him an "AV" rating. This is the highest possible rating for a lawyer.

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The Table of Contents


Map I

Introduction, 1

Chapter 1. The Dispossession Process, 3

  • (a) The Importance of Land to the Amerindian, 3
  • (b) A History of Dispossession, 9
    • Colonization and the early years of independence, 9
    • The industrial revolution and the world war booms, 16
    • The present: the process continues, 18
  • (c) The Actors and Their Interests, 22

Chapter 2. Official Recognition of Forest-Dweller Land Tenure by Traditional National Real Property Law, 27

  • (a) Acquisition of Real Property Rights Under the Civil Codes, 29
    • Tradición, 30
    • Prescripción, 31
    • Ocupación, 32
    • Accesión, 33
    • Sucesión, 34
  • (b) General Problems in Acquiring Real Property Rights under Traditional Civil Code Law, 34
    • The human-land relationship, 34
    • The spatial aspects of "land", 46
  • (c) Limitations on the Content of the Real Property Right Granted -- Obtaining Necessary Rights, 53

Chapter 3. Special Law and its Effect on Land Acquisition, 55

  • Paramount native rights: sovereignty and native title, 61
  • Land grants based upon original government ownership, 65
  • Land reform laws, 68
  • Modifications of traditional real property law, 71
  • Liberalized prescriptive ownership, 72
  • Recognition of collective landholding, 73
  • Eco-systemic delimitation of boundaries, 81
  • Reversing the dispossession process, 84

Chapter 4. Transfer of Indigenous Land Interests to Non-Indian Entities, 86

  • Devices by which land interests are extinguished, 86
    • Inter Vivos Transfers, 86
    • Sucesión, 90
    • Removal, 92
  • Provisions designed to prevent or regulate transactions, 94

Chapter 5. Factors Affecting Implementation of the Law, 97

  • The lack of a remedy negating substantive rights, 97
    • Incomplete legal personality, 97
    • The procedural barrier, 101
    • Nature of the remedy awarded, 106
  • The law as part of a wider socio-cultural system, 107

Chapter 6. Conclusions and Proposals, 123

List of Indigenous Groups

Map II

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