Freedom – Quilombo Land Title Struggle in Brazil – Brazil

Freedom Quilombos are rural Afro-Brazilian community’ areas.
Many of them were set up in the 17th to 19th centuries as a form of
resistance of slaves and ex-slaves against slavery. The Brazilian 1988 Constitution enshrined the
quilombolas’ rights to their traditional lands and the government
has officially recognized the existence of more than
3,000 communities settled on over 20 million hectares,
60% in the Amazon. However, less than 170 titles of ownership, demarcating
just 1 million hectares has been granted. Until recently the Quilombola were ashamed of being Quilombola
because of the history, the history of slavery in Brazil. It’s a feeling of contempt…it’s belittling. We are despised because we
are not important. Insignificant in a nation
that we helped build. That’s how I feel. Today the Quilombolas demand the
recognition of land title in their territories. The Quilombola are the descendants of slaves. These slaves came here fleeing from the whites and it was here we managed to hide. I have seven children and 31 grandchildren. This one here by my side, he is 40 years-old. So with these children confirms that we have
lived here in this area for a long time. It was through those slaves who
came here, who fled to freedom, they fought for us to be here. The people live a happy life in this community. Increasingly, growing and developing. I feel very insecure. Because as a people, when you have the title in your hands,
you know it is yours and without the title, it is not our land. At the moment the pressure for land is great. Mining companies, large agricultural projects, pulp and paper
companies they are all competing for large tracts of land. This community has never had its territory recognized so they remain on the margins of the political scene. We train these communities and they produce
maps that represent their territories, producing the maps which they consider most relevant. The mapping of the territory is something that
all of us here in the community want. So it is a priority for us because when we get title to the land,
everything will improve. We will feel safer, have more security, we will
be able to have incomes for families. I think it’s important for the community as this helps give a guarantee that the Quilombola
has the right to the land he has lived on. The map becomes a political instrument for recognition. It enables the group to use the map in legal proceedings, use the map in defense of their territorial rights, use the
map as a way to recognise their situation. We feel that in a short time we will finish a job
that we’ve wanted recognition for, for decades. To resolve something like this for us is a dream. We are in Quilombola Ivaporunduva
in the Ribeira Valley. It took 12 years for our
community to get recognition. Here is a paradise. A paradise where we can fly
like a bird flying in the air, in free air. We are in the Atlantic forest, a region
where there are many protected areas. Ivaporunduva produces organic bananas,
all the production is organic. It has to be small agriculture on a
system that is environmentally friendly. This enables the whole community to be sustainable. There are many things in the forest which
we use without destroying nature. We have over 300 species within our community knowledge. We as a people survive because there is this forest. Things have progressed in Brazil, the Brazilian population are now
beginning to understand the Quilombola, its history. And through tourism especially tourism with schools and students we’ve found a way to move the story forward,
to promote the history of the Quilombola. The struggle for collective identity is not separated from the struggle for territory. In this sense it’s a passport to equality. The true meaning of freedom is titled land Without land you have nothing, with access
to land then your future is guaranteed. Despite government promises the community of Cachoeira
Portera have still not been given title to their land. There are over 3,000 Quilombola communities in Brazil
and less than 170 have received title to their lands. The protection and affirmation of the rights of the Quilombola
requires titling their lands as territories.

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