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Brazil's Wealthy Build Homes in Nature Preserves

Millionaire squatters dodge the law, trample on pristine land
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2012 4:02 PM CST
Brazil's Wealthy Build Homes in Nature Preserves
Picture taken on February 19, 2008 at Rio de Janeiro's Botanic Garden.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Millionaire squatters? They're not so unusual in Brazil, where more and more of them are claiming land in nature preserves and building spectacular, secluded homes that are perfectly illegal, Bloomberg reports. The owners protect themselves by registering the property in the name of a holding company, and, when the state files suit, tying things up in court for years. “The law is the same for the poor and the rich," says a federal prosecutor, "but the rich have the best lawyers.”

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Behind the squatter boom is Brazil's bubbling economy, which is creating 19 new millionaires a day. Among them are car rental mogul Antonio Claudio Resende, who hacked down pristine jungle to build a 1,752-square-meter mansion, and Hollywood director Bruno Barreto, who promised to demolish his dream home 4 years ago—but is still appealing in court. “They think they are the only ones who deserve to enjoy a piece of paradise because they are rich,” says a conservationist. “They say they are the owners of the island or the beach ... but that's not what the law says." (Read more Brazil stories.)

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