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Story Publication logo March 3, 2021

For the Quilombola People, the Pandemic Meant Abandonment, Racism and Necropolitics (Portuguese)

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A contaminated lake adjacent to the Hydro Norsk operation in Barcarena. A recent investigation identified multiple cases of unauthorized waste being emitted from the company’s aluminum processing facilities. Image by Cícero Pedrosa Neto. Brazil, undated.
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Two people and a dog in front of a house in the Abacatal Quilombola Community, in Ananindeua, Pará.
The Abacatal quilombola community in Ananindeua, Pará. After months of agony, leaders are fighting in court for the State to recognize the historical vulnerability of the quilombola population, accentuated with the arrival of Covid-19. Image by Pedrosa Neto/Amazônia Real. Brazil, 2021.

With Adriana Abreu and Sam Schramski

Moju, Pará - "We do not even have access to the basics we need to face the coronavirus," said Raimundo Magno, a quilombola leader from the África community, located in the municipality of Moju, Pará. Magno's complaint points to the abandonment seen in quilombola communities all over Brazil during the pandemic, translated into the lack of assistance, the absence of specific health policies, and the scarcity of official statistics to count cases of COVID-19 among the population. After months of agony, entities and leaders fight in court for the State to recognize the historical vulnerability of the population, accentuated with the arrival of the new coronavirus in the territories.

"There was a lack of water, food, doctors, testing, medicine, masks, information, in short, everything was missing," says Magno. He summarizes the general situation of the quilombola communities in the face of the threat brought by COVID-19. These groups' ways of life, whose origins and resistance date back to the colonial slave period, are characterized by a direct relationship with nature, with family agriculture, with fishing, and with the sale of surplus products. The need for isolation has unbalanced the families' incomes; crops were lost and the next few months were lost, too, since families could not plant.


Moju, Pará – “Nós não estamos tendo acesso nem ao básico para enfrentarmos o coronavírus”, relata angustiado Raimundo Magno, líder quilombola da comunidade África, situada no município paraense de Moju. A queixa de Magno aponta para o abandono assistido nas comunidades quilombolas de todo o Brasil durante a pandemia, traduzido na falta de assistência, na ausência de políticas de saúde específicas e na escassez de estatísticas oficiais para a contagem dos casos de Covid-19 entre a população. Depois de meses de agonia, entidades e lideranças brigam na justiça para que o Estado reconheça a vulnerabilidade histórica da população, acentuada com a chegada do novo coronavírus aos territórios.

“Faltou água, comida, médicos, testagem, remédios, máscaras, informação, enfim, faltou tudo”, conta Magno. Ele resume o contexto geral das comunidades quilombolas diante da ameaça trazida pela Covid-19. As formas de reprodução da vida desses grupos, cujas origens e resistências remontam o período colonial escravocrata, estão pautadas pela relação direta com a natureza, com a agricultura familiar, com a pesca e com a venda dos excedentes. A necessidade do isolamento desequilibrou a renda das famílias; as produções foram perdidas e a manutenção dos próximos meses também, já que não puderam plantar.

The English story excerpt above was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit Projeto Colabora. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website here. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Wearing a medical mask, Raimundo Magno cooks pupunhas.
Raimundo Magno, president of the Association of Residents of the Quilombola África Community, cooks pupunhas. Image by Pedrosa Neto/Amazônia Real. Brazil, 2021.
Vanuza Cardoso wears a headband, an orange top, and beaded necklaces.
Vanuza Cardoso, leader of the Abacatal Quilombola Community, in Ananindeua, Pará. Image by Pedrosa Neto/Amazônia Real. Brazil, 2021.
Sandra Amorim wears a green cloth face mask.
Sandra Amorim, president of the Sítio São João Quilombola Community, in Barcarena, Pará. Image by Pedrosa Neto/Amazônia Real. Brazil, 2021.
An aerial view of a boat on the river in Igarapé Caeté, an África quilombola community in the municipality of Moju, Pará, Brazil.
Igarapé Caeté, an África quilombola community, in the municipality of Moju, Pará. Image by Pedrosa Neto. Brazil.

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