LATIN AMERICA

Movement Mondays: Quilombo Rio Dos Macacos

Movement Mondays are a weekly look into social movements past and present. I know this initial post isn’t on a monday, but y’all understand what we are trying to do! These posts are meant to motivate, inspire, and of course liberate.

Today’s look is into one of my favorite places on earth, Brazil. Today, Brazil is making mainstream news for various reasons, the World Cup in 2014, the Olympics in 2016- and of course its recent loss to Mexico at the 2012 London Olympics, marking this Brazilian Soccer team a national disappointment.

       

When Arlene posted this meme to her facebook, my Brazilian heart sank a little. 

In all seriousness, Brazil is undergoing serious infrastructural reform to achieve a look of modernization that the state believes will propel them into finally being the premier economic and cultural hubbub of Latin America. Just as we know, all projects of modernization, the ones whose labor is exploited to make such means happen also in return are deemed non modern by the state and thus lose themselves and their belongings.  This notion is what gives us background into understanding what is happening at Quilombo Rio Dos Macacos.

So, what does Quilombo Rio Dos Macacos mean exactly? Quilombos are simply put- spaces where escaped slave communities developed into their own autonomous community full of people that escaped colonialism and slavery.  Historically, in other part of the African Diaspora such spaces are referred to as Maroon communities or Palenques. Today,  people still reside in these communities, and also protect community as a means of active resistance.  Rio Dos Macacos in Portuguese translates to Monkey River!

Over 60 families, including matriarchs that have resided in the community for over 100 years, were ordered to evacuate the area on March 4, 2012- in order to gain more land to build an extensive condo for Navy in Salvador, Bahia. Before the official evacuation summon, members of the community had complained that they were harassed and policed by the military as they would try and leave the territory day in and day out. The territory was donated by the City of Salvador to the National Army in 1960.

The Navy was then in control of the Quilombo and ordered for eviction in 2009.  However, the Quilombo was finally granted recognition status, and the date was postponed. The newer date of March 4 arose after the federal circuit got involved. Nevertheless, the state in this regard completely ignored its recognition by the Palmares Foundation, an extension of the Ministry of Culture, which declared Quilombos as territory meant to be preserved and protected as it represents Afro-Brazilian culture.

The date is still pending for actual expulsion ( two weeks before this date, they were given a fifteen day ultimatum). The movement is fighting institutional racism, police brutality, and land rights- struggles unfortunately not too uncommon throughout the African Diaspora. The movement of the people from Quilombo Dos Macacos is a direct violation of human rights. There have been reports of families staying on the property as an act of active resistance.  The documentary below gives more information to the struggle, and also provides ways to help.

If you are engaged with a social/political movement and want to reach more awareness let us know! we’ll do a write up!

-d.e.

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