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Story Publication logo July 16, 2021

'I Didn't Know I Would Be In the Military' (Spanish)

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Un cartel en una de las principales avenidas de São Luís, capital del estado de Maranhão, decía: “Maranhão fue al espacio”.
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The trauma of forced removals, experienced during the dictatorship by the largest Quilombola...

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territorio quilombola
Image courtesy of Ana Mendes/GK.

The story excerpt and photo captions below were translated from Spanish. Read the original Spanish story in full at GK, or view the story in Spanish on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


Her protest was silence.

She remained silent as the aeronautical military emptied her house: first she saw how they took the cat, then the dog, the chickens and finally herself. "She was the last one," recalls Sérvulo Borges, the young recruit who held one of the arms of the lady, who could barely walk, so old she was.

A wooden cane helped with her movements. With each step, the farther she went from her home. The elderly chaplain Ildefonso Graciano Rodrigues held her on the other side, helping her to walk.

After 50 meters the lady stopped, made the two men let go of her arms and turned back to her house, crying. For five minutes, without saying a word, she contemplated the landscape where she was probably born, grew up and wished to die. But which she would never see again.


Reporting, photography, and video: Ana Mendes
Editing and editorial coordination: Sabrina Duque


This story, in addition to being supported by the Rainforest Journalism Fund, is one of the six winning stories of the first edition of the TOA-GK Grant for in-depth journalism in the Amazon, in collaboration with Hivos, as part of the program All Eyes on the Amazon.