Fonte: Mongabay

  • Four million African slaves were transported to Brazilian plantations. Many fled into the wild, some as far as the Amazon, and established quilombos — runaway slave communities long ignored by the federal and state governments.
  • Brazil’s 1988 constitution gave the quilombos legal land rights, which were not, however, recognized by the ruralists, an elite of wealthy landholders that coveted the land for agribusiness, mining and other development purposes.
  • In 2003, the “marco temporal,” requiring Quilombolas to prove that they occupied the land they are claiming both in 1888 (the year slavery was abolished) and in 1988 (the year of the new constitution) was overturned. Quilombos were granted inalienable community land rights.
  • Now, a long dormant court challenge by the DEM political party has reached Brazil’s Supreme Court, threatening the 2003 landmark ruling, again putting the Quilombolas at risk. Meanwhile, violence is up, with 13 people living in quilombos assassinated this year.

A protest against the “marco temporal” requiring quilombos to prove their existence in 1888 (the year slavery was abolished) and 1988 (the year of the new constitution). Quilombos were granted inalienable community land rights in 2003, but the ruralists, emboldened by Pres. Temer’s rise to power, recently challenged that ruling. Photo courtesy of Instituto Humanitas Unisinos

With the recent onslaught of initiatives launched by Brazil’s wealthy ruralist elite to undo environmental and indigenous protections so as to seize more land for agribusiness, the plight of the Quilombolas — the people living in the remote hinterland communities set up by Afro-Brazilians, largely runaway slaves — has received little press.

Yet for Quilombola communities, the consequences of a legal action challenging their land rights, awaiting judgement in Brazil’s Supreme Court, could be dramatic and devastating.

Between the 16th to 19th centuries, an estimated four million Africans were transported from Africa to work as slaves on Brazil’s estates. Some escaped, fleeing slavery’s brutality, and determined to preserve their African cultural heritage, which had been fiercely repressed during captivity.

They avoided recapture by living unobtrusively in isolated regions, as far away as the Amazon, carving out homes in the rainforest. Having little contact with the outside world, some only learned of Brazil’s official abolition of slavery in 1888 decades after the event.