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Story Publication logo November 2, 2022

“It Would Be Nice if the Europeans Refrained From Giving Wise Advice” (German)


Two trucks carry soy across the BR-163 highway in Brazil.

The BR-163 highway links the two most important migration processes in Brazil's recent history. The...

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This story excerpt was translated from German. To read the original story in full, visit Berliner Zeitung.

Finally a break: farm workers in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso. Image by André Vieira/Berliner Zeitung. Brazil, 2022.

A new president was elected in Brazil on October 2nd. In the state of Mato Grosso, they were counting on the right-wing populist incumbent Jair Bolsonaro. But why?

The roads, on which thousands of trucks engage in a race that knows no pause even on Sunday, pass through a land where the fields stretch to the horizon.

Its soil is so fertile, its climate so favorable, that in Mato Grosso, in Brazil's west, soy, corn or cotton can be harvested twice a year. Trucks bring the harvests to Santarem. There, from the port, beans, grain and wool go out into the world. 

The trucks make an estimated 1.8 million trips each year on roads that did not exist until the seventies. At that time, the federal highway B 163 coming from the south ended in Cuiabá, the capital of Mato Grosso, the gateway to the still untouched Amazon.

Then the generals of the military government of the time decided to exploit its wealth. They promised land of their own to any settler who wanted to seek his fortune in the forests. And people came, especially from the south, from Rio Grande do Sul and Paraná, where their German or Italian ancestors had successfully established farms.