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Story Publication logo September 18, 2022

Without Demarcation, Indigenous Lands Suffer From Invasions and the Presence of Criminal Factions

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President Jair Bolsonaro ignored the obligation to demarcate indigenous lands in Brazil, renewed the...

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Graffiti with the names of the criminal factions PCC and Bonde dos 13 at a house on the bank of the Iaco River in Sena Madureira, Acre. Image by Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress. Brazil, 2022.

This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit Folha de São Paulo. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.


SENA MADUREIRA—A story full of curves. This is how Indigenous people from FUNAI (National Indian Foundation) define the trajectory of the Jaminawas, who are accustomed to internal conflicts and long pilgrimages in the Amazon.

The Jaminawas keep alive the memories of deaths in confrontations between families. They wandered for reconciliation and survival until they were settled by the State on a land—the Jaminawa of Rio Caeté—in 1997, allowing an armistice for what the indigenists called "intertribal wars."

Now, 25 years later, in the interior of Acre, the conflicts among the Jaminawas have another origin: young people from different villages are co-opted by the biggest criminal factions in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.


Young Jaminawa study in a makeshift classroom. Image by Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress. Brazil, 2022.

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The PCC and the Red Command are in Sena Madureira (AC), the closest city to the Jaminawa Indigenous land on the Caeté River. It is 80 km away—or on average, three and a half hours by car over a bumpy dirt road, the same amount of time spent when it is possible to take a boat during the flood season.

The factions have co-opted young Jaminawas, as described to Folha by three parents of Indigenous people arrested in the city's penitentiary for suspected drug trafficking. There have been eight recent arrests, according to reports made inside a simple wooden house with a straw roof in the territory's main village.


Sena Madureira on the Brazilian map. Image by Folha de São Paulo.

Because they are members of rival groups, they cannot share the same cells, and family members have to organize visits on different days. In the villages, when they are free, these Indigenous people no longer meet each other.

Amidst the advance of drug factions in the last five years, the Jaminawas are left to their own devices in an Indigenous land without demarcation. There is no recognition of the occupation of the territory, no consistent delimitation and monitoring or enforcement against invaders by agencies such as Funai.


Extrema village, in the Jaminawa Indigenous land of the Caeté River, in Acre. Image by Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress. Brazil, 2022.