Seringueiros of Machadinho d’Oeste
“The planet I want is a free planet, where the poor have opportunities, children go to school and young people have the right to live well.”.
— Rosalina Olivera, seringueiro community elder.
The seringueiros are traditional artisanal rubber tappers. By state-recognized right, a group of them practice sustainable hunting, gathering, fishing and rubber tapping on 16 reserves in the Machadinho d’Oeste municipality of Brazil’s Rondônia State.
Threatened lifestyles, threatened lives
The traditional, forest-friendly seringueiro lifestyle is in peril. Large logging companies are:
- Intimidating and evicting seringueiros from their lands
- Deploying tactics like kidnapping, arson and murder to silence resistance
- Bribing officials to bypass protective laws
- Enabling the takeover of forested land by industrial agriculture and livestock farming
The problem is not new. In 1988, seringueiro leader Chico Mendes had been killed by a rancher. Lately, 15 seringueiros have been murdered in Machadinho d’Oeste. The recent arrest of some corrupt officials for issuing illegal logging permits has not deterred the aggressive expansion of logging. And now, the Brazilian government is opening the Amazon’s protected areas, including seringueiro reserves, to resource extraction.
Benefitting from media and government inattention, the logging firms are driving the seringueiros further inland, away from the sustenance of the Machadinho River. This is exacerbating their already precarious economic condition.
How the Pastoral Land Commission is helping
Our long-time partner, Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT, the Pastoral Land Commission), is an arm of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil. It supports the seringueiros by documenting abuses of their rights and helping them challenge unjust land distribution and seizures. CPT also promotes human rights, ecological justice and genuine land reform.
Together, let’s take action FOR OUR COMMON HOME!