Terra Indígena Kayapó, no estado do Pará, Brasil - FT - FELIPE WERNECK - IBAMA 2.jpg

Amazon: more than an environmental agenda, a public security agenda

Professor at Universidade Estadual do Pará [State University of Pará] and member of the Fórum Brasileiro de Segurança Pública [Brazilian Public Security Forum].

Aiala Colares Couto

Translated by Silvia Benchimol and Ewerton Branco (UFPA/ET-Multi)


To approach the social, political and economic context of the Amazon, it is necessary to understand, first, the decision-making processes that ensue from the hegemonic agents of big capital. This I can affirm, as I have been alert to the spatial transformations undergone by the region in recent years. It is about the implementation of economic activities related to a neoliberal dynamic that presents itself as a necessary political agenda on behalf of accumulation.

And so forth, structural adjustments are carried out as a way to release all types of resources extracted from the forest. However, such activities strengthen mining, logging, agriculture and livestock, oil palm cultivation and land grabbing, that is, practices that illegally carried out, feed the market of violence. As an example of this, the peoples of the forest began to live with the most diverse social relationships involved in clandestinity, where criminal networks establish connections between cities and territories that are under their influence.

There is, therefore, a kind of criminal neocolonialism which involves the entire region from its extreme borders to the interior of the forest. In addition to all this, the greatest threat we are facing is related to an increasing presence of factions or armed militias in the territory of indigenous, quilombola and riverine communities. We highlight the fact that the institutional fragility caused by the State position, in recent years, has favored a criminal dynamic that is fed by smuggling, biopiracy and drug trafficking.

Indeed, we emphasize that illegal activities in the Amazon correspond to the overlapping of clandestine networks that have been imposing themselves in the form of territory domains and threatening the peoples of the forest and the indispensable resources for the life maintenance. Therefore, it is essential to consider the intimate relationship between environmental crimes and the presence of criminal factions and militias, because, in the face federal government neglect, violence is constituted as a defining element of power relations. And, in the midst of conflicts between indigenous people, quilombolas, riverine people, peasants, farmers, loggers, miners, companies and the State itself, this violence marks the geography of disputes over the use of territory in the region.

It will then be up to the President-elect to merge the environmental agenda into a public security agenda, highlighting the importance of recognizing the existence of the diversity of the peoples of the Amazon and, thus, establishing public policies that, at the same time, promote the protection of the forest and the guarantee of the fundamental rights of the Amazonian peoples. Finally, it is a must to seriously and intelligently confront the presence of organized crime in order to guarantee sovereignty and effective control of the territory.