A total of 5.93% of rural land in Argentina is foreign-owned President Cristina Fernández announced which amounts to 15.8 million hectares. During a speech at Government House, Justice Secretary Julián Alvarez presented a survey that is a prelude to the full implementation of the Law 26,737 on Rural Lands (Ley de Tierras Rurales) passed in 2011 to place a 15% limit on foreign ownership of rural land in Argentina.
Catamarca, San Juan, Salta, Corrientes and Misiones were identified as the only provinces with 10% of their lands in foreign hands. Rural lands were reported to account for 95.8% of the total Argentine territory that is estimated at 277 million hectares. Neighbouring Uruguay is estimated to have 16 million hectares of rural land.
The top foreign owners were from the United States (3 million hectares), Spain (2.3 million) and Italy (2.1 million). A special mention was reserved for the British, who posses 1 million hectares, which Julian Alvarez attributed in part to firms, based in “tax havens”.
The survey was carried out through cooperation between Argentine municipal, provincial and national authorities, and the law will also be implemented at those levels.
That is, although no provinces were found to exceed the 15% limit, ten “subdivisions,” or departments, out of 569 were above the ceiling.
The Articles 8 and 9 of the law state that within each department, each foreign individual or entity will not be able to acquire more than 30% of land within the allowed 15% of the total land of the subdivision.
Alvarez, who said the aim of the law is to “protect our territorial sovereignty,” denied “legislative overacting” from the government and emphasized that the law is in “full force,” criticizing the opposition for having considered the law impossible to apply.
Cristina Fernandez who spoke after Alvarez pinpointed to the alleged contradiction of the opposition, which mostly abstained from voting the bill in 2011.
The law was passed with 153 votes for, 26 against, 1 abstention and 77 absentee members of Congress, with the president accusing the opposition of not having voted for the law because it was promoted by the Victory Front (FpV).
Cristina Fernandez said that “our land” is a “non-renewable resource,” and “this is why I wanted to use the instrument of the national broadcast, so all Argentines” can “be informed about the effort we have made to fulfil a law.”