Amazon indigenous groups and truckers ally to oppose Brazil’s Grainrail

Amazon indigenous groups and truckers ally to oppose Brazil’s Grainrail

Dotô and the Kayapó use modern telecommunication technologies to effectively monitor illegal deforestation on their lands. Image courtesy of Folha do Progresso. Dototacakire, known as Dotô, spoke passionately to Mongabay about his opposition to Grainrail (Ferrogrão). He is a leader of the Kayapó people from the Baú Indigenous Territory on the banks of the Iriri River in southern Pará state, Brazil – deep in the Amazon. Authorities hope this new railway will make it quicker and cheaper to transport millions of tons of crops, mainly soy, from the north of Mato Grosso to the Tapajós and Amazon rivers. But indigenous communities fear Grainrail will bring a sudden gush of land grabbers, illegal loggers and ranchers that would transform their ancestral lands and forests beyond recognition. Even though Dotô had withdrawn from political life for a year as part of a Kayapó cultural grieving ritual to honor a son who had died, his determination to defend the people’s land was evident in every word he spoke: “The government has to consult us before they build this railroad, because it’s written in law, in [the International Labour Organization’s] Convention 169,” he said firmly. Brazil is a signatory of Convention 169. If the rail line eventually goes ahead, his community wants binding agreements: “We can’t let [the authorities] do to us what they did to our relatives at Belo Monte [the mega-dam on the Xingu River]. There they made many promises but then they destroyed families, they destroyed the environment, they destroyed everything.”…

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