Terra Indígena Tenharim do Igarapé Preto, Amazonas Foto Vinícius Mendonça Ibama.jpg

The Amazon: predatory models and violence

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

Translation by Silvia Benchimol, Ewerton Branco, Maria Annarry Tavares OK


The intensity of environmental crimes spreading across the Amazon is frightening. We cannot deny that for a long time our region has undergone environmental problems, which negatively impact on the peoples who depend on the forest for the maintenance of their ways of life, their cultures and their conditions of existence. These aspects are important for the preservation of the fauna’s and flora's biodiversity. Furthermore, preserved environmental conditions are necessary for the symbolic cosmology of the existential cartographies produced by indigenous and riverine peoples, quilombolas and caboclos, in general.

The environmental transformations emerging on forests follow a hegemonic model that considers the large-scale exploitation of resources as a strategy for development and enrichment. A greed guided by the accumulation of capital, which turns traditional peoples invisible, supported by the thesis that nature must be exploited so it does not become an obstacle to prevent the modernizing civilization process.

 I emphasize that activities such as mineral exploitation, logging, gold mining, transportation infrastructure constructions, telecommunications and electricity infrastructure have largely contributed to a dynamic of violence. Thus, these activities fostered not only labor mobility, but also a movement of migratory flows from the most varied social segments and from all regions. In this intensity of movements, regional and non-regional groups began to diverge in terms of the interests related to the use of land and forest resources. A cartography of the violence is, therefore, established revealing that the use of the territory and the appropriation of the resources are the trigger for the most varied conflicts over land. 

However, in recent years, due to the fragility of environmental policies, the Amazon region has turned into a zone of social, political and economic instability, mainly caused by the intensification of environmental crimes. When fires and deforestation are our references, these activities threaten the physical, biological and sociocultural integrity of indigenous territories, quilombolas and conservation units.

It is certainly necessary to rethink sustainable development models for the Amazon, considering the autonomy of its peoples and the ideal manner of appropriating forest resources. Beforehand, however, it is necessary to plan a public agenda that includes environmental issues and the territory used by traditional peoples. Creating environmental and territorial defense policies is an opportunity to establish strategic mechanisms to protect and guarantee the symbolic and cultural presence, as well as the ethnic and ancestral essence of the peoples of the forest.