Last month, 300 women and men from quilombos of the Brazilian southeastern state of Espírito Santo reclaimed a parcel of ancestral land from ARACRUZ Cellulose, a Norwegian-based corporation, according reports from the Anti-Green Desserts Network. The land is part of the former Linharinho quilombo. Two of Grassroots International’s Brazilian partners, the Landless Movement (MST) and the Movement of Small Farmers (MPA), supported the initiative of the quilombolas in Espirito Santo.
Quilombos are communities that were created by runaway and former slaves. Some were formed by maroons as acts of resistance against slave-owners. The most famous Quilombo is Palmares, home of the great leaders Ganga Zumba and Zumbi. Others were formed after formal emancipation, which left former slaves with no economic means for survival. It wasn’t until the Constitution of 1988, more than a century after slavery was abolished that Brazil formally recognized the land rights of quilombolas, the people of the quilombos, as traditional communities.
“We want land to produce food for our future generations, not Eucalyptus trees,” Domingos Firmiano dos Santos, a member of the Quilombola Comission of Sapê do Norte told reporters. He explained that since ARACRUZ Celulose arrived in the region, many communities have been expelled from their land, forest reserves have been destroyed, rivers have been polluted with agrochemicals, and the life of rural communities that resisted severely impacted. “Today, we advanced in our struggle, because we want our land back”.
A large Assembly of Quilombolas Communities was held in the occupied area. The participants decided to reclaim the rest of the area to press the demarcation of the Linharinho territory. The National Institute of Agrarian Reform has identified 9,542 hectares as quilombola territory. As expected, lawyers from ARACRUZ Cellulose are disputing the report and the reclamation process in court.
Grassroots International is in solidarity with the struggle of these traditional black communities in Brazil for their constitutionally guaranteed right to their ancestral land.
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