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Story Publication logo May 13, 2023

Yanomami Are Exploited in the Piassaba Extraction Industry with Long Working Days and Accumulated Debt (Portuguese)


many tree trunks and fires in deforested land

President Jair Bolsonaro ignored the obligation to demarcate indigenous lands in Brazil, renewed the...

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This story excerpt was translated from Portuguese. To read the original story in full, visit Folha de S.Paulo. You may also view the original story on the Rainforest Journalism Fund website. Our website is available in English, Spanish, bahasa Indonesia, French, and Portuguese.

Folha goes to the mid-Negro River region and sees the increasing presence of Indigenous people extracting the fiber used in brooms.

The extraction of piassaba in the region of the middle Negro River, through a rudimentary model of indebtedness of workers, includes the exploitation of Yanomami living in villages on the Indigenous land on the Amazon side.

The Yanomami land is the largest in Brazil. The territory covers 9.6 million hectares and stretches across Roraima and Amazonas.

On the Roraima side, where there are 17,000 Yanomami, the Indigenous people are experiencing a humanitarian crisis.

A Yanomami youth watches piassaba logs extracted near the igarapé Tabaco, in the Nova Jerusalém community in Amazonas. Image by Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress. Brazil, 2023.

The advance of illegal mining and 20,000 invaders, stimulated by the Jair Bolsonaro government (2018-2022), has caused an explosion of malaria cases and diseases associated with hunger, such as severe malnutrition, acute diarrhea, and pneumonia. On January 20, the government of current President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva declared a state of health emergency in the territory.

The other side of the Indigenous land, in the Amazon, is less populated: There are 10,300 Yanomami. Some of them have been undergoing a hidden process of exploitation, with no sign of reaction from the federal government.

Residents of the Nova Jerusalém community, most of them Indigenous (but not Yanomami), cross the Travessão waterfall on the Tabaco Creek, with loads of piassaba extracted from inside the Yanomami Indigenous Land. The waterfall is about 6 kilometers in a straight line from the reserve's boundary. Image by Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress. Brazil, 2023.

The port of the city of Barcelos, in the region of the mid-Negro River, which receives hundreds of Yanomami every month in search of supplies, health care, and social benefits. Image by Lalo de Almeida/Folhapress. Brazil, 2023.


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Extractive Industries

Extractive Industries


yellow halftone illustration of a logging truck holding logs


Rainforest Reporting

Rainforest Reporting

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