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Pulitzer Center Update October 21, 2021

RJF Grantee Wins Award for Human-Rights Reporting


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Soy production in the southern region of the state of Maranhão, northeastern Brazil. Image by Hugo Sampaio/Shutterstock. Brazil, 2014.

Rainforest Journalism Fund grantee Sabrina Felipe’s investigative piece, Coffee with Gunpowder (Café com pólvora), won a Vladimir Herzog Award in the written journalism category.

Published by The Intercept Brasil, her story traces how the Maratá Group, a food giant, intimidated and expelled farmers, using violent tactics such as the hiring of jagunços (armed security guards) in rural areas like Timbiras, Brazil. 

The Vladimir Herzog Awards, held on October 16, 2021, recognize exceptional coverage of human rights issues. Coffee with Gunpowder shows how investigative journalism can narrate the intimate stories of local communities scarred by corporate agricultural interests. 

Felipe uncovered evidence of how hired gunmen destroyed crops, set houses on fire, and assaulted farmers living in Maranhão’s rural municipalities. In addition, she uncovered how violent land-grabbing strategies and investigations have affected farmers.

She is an independent investigative journalist who specializes in human rights and territory/land disputes. Her report was part of the larger Pulitzer Center-supported project Food Giant Uses Gunmen To Intimidate Residents Out Of Commercially Valuable Land.

Also, a project on mercury was recognized with a Herzog honorable mention in the multimedia journalism category. 

Mercury Alert, supported by the Rainforest Journalism Fund, included a team of journalists, including Pulitzer Center Environment Investigations Editor Gustavo Faleiros, RJF grantee Bram Ebus, James Alberti, RJF grantee Tom Laffay, Ewald Scharfenberg, RJF grantee Marcos David Valverde, Kate Wheeling, Sonia Bridi, G.I. Sutherland, grantee Wilfred Leeuwin, RFJ grantee Sam Cowie, Fabiano Villela, Monica Reolom, Cristine Kist, Fillipi Nahar, Patricia Marcano, Laura Clisanchez, and Marcelo Marques.

Produced in collaboration with VICE, Fantástico,, and InfoAmazonia, the documentary investigates how mercury is crucial to gold mining in South America despite its prohibition.


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Rainforest Reporting

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Land Rights

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Food Security

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