'Exiles': documentary shows violent expulsion of extractivists from Resex Jaci-Paraná

25 abril 2023

Film reports successive non-compliance with court decisions and connivance of the State with invaders
By WWF-Brazil

Armed men, tractors opening roads and tearing down the forest: it's like that, with violence and under threat, that families of extractivists who lived in Resex (Extractive Reserve) Jaci-Paraná, in Rondônia, had to leave behind their homes and their livelihoods. In their place are now illegal cattle ranches, properties of well-known and influential people, who easily sell their product to large slaughterhouses.

That is the story told in the documentary “Exiles - extractivists are expelled by gunshots in Rondônia”, produced by the Kanindé Ethno-environmental Defense Association, the Organization of Rubber Workers of Rondônia and WWF-Brazil, released on the 12th in the National Congress in Brasilia. The film brings testimonies and interviews denouncing the connivance of authorities with the invasions and permanence of land grabbers and hundreds of thousands of illegal cattle in the conservation unit. It details the land grabbing scheme, the non-compliance with court decisions and the attempts to reduce the area via the Legislative Assembly.

”The documentary reports scenes that we historically see throughout the country against indigenous peoples and traditional communities, disorders that are destroying one of the most beautiful things we have: the cultural diversity associated with traditional ways of life and the conservation of the environment”, said Deputy Nilto Tatto (PT-SP), coordinator of the Environmental Parliamentary Front in the National Congress, during the release.

Resex Jaci-Paraná is a conservation unit that extends through three municipalities of Rondônia. It was created in 1996 to protect the forest and the families who live from the extraction of rubber, chestnuts, açaí and other products from the Amazon. Almost 30 years after its creation, however, data from the government of Rondônia show that there are 765 farms within the area that should be protected.

Currently, only two traditional inhabitants resist in their plot. And although the law prohibits cattle ranching in the area, today there is more pasture than forest in Resex Jaci-Paraná. According to the INPE (National Institute for Space Research), 55.3% of its 191,234 hectares have already been turned into grass.

"It is we, traditional populations, that are showing what is happening in these direct use conservation units. The documentary presents a very sad diagnosis of Jaci-Paraná, as a model of a destroyed Resex, the most forgotten, where crime can do anything, but we know that it is not the only one”, noted extractivist Paulo Lima Nunes, from the OSR (Organization of Rubber Tappers of Rondônia)

“We need to strengthen those who believe in the importance of keeping the forest standing, in the protection of life, animals and everyone”, said Txai Suruí, coordinator of Kanindé. “We are here with the commitment to do something to protect the planet”, stressed Deputy Celia Xakriabá (PSOL-MG). 

Solution may be federalization

During the release of the documentary, activists and parliamentarians discussed the proposal to federalize the Resex Jaci-Paraná, since, in addition to failing to comply with the court decisions for the withdrawal of the invaders, the State of Rondônia government has already sanctioned a bill approved by the Legislative Assembly reducing the conservation unit to about 10% of its current size. The reduction was barred by Justice.

”If we do nothing, the states of the Amazon will become a large farm, that is the logic. So our struggle is no longer only one of resistance, but also of offensive. What the documentary does is nationalize the problem of Rondônia, because we have already seen that it will not be solved by Rondônia alone. Wouldn't it be the case to federalize Resex Jaci-Paraná?”, proposed Deputy Airton Faleiro (PT-PA).

The proposal was supported by Deputy Leonardo Monteiro (PT-MG), who also sees the federalization of the Resex as the only possibility of saving the unit from destruction. “I make my mandate available to this fight”, he said. 

“If it continues as it is, in a short time we will not have any reserve left. That Resex is super important for the environment of Brazil. If we allow it to be destroyed, we will set a precedent for it to happen elsewhere in the country. We are already ‘Rondonizing’ the south of Amazonas, and this is not a good thing”, says Ivaneide Bandeira Cardozo, known as Neidinha Suruí, coordinator of Kanindé.

Reconstruction of federal agencies

After the screening of the documentary, representatives of the federal government also spoke of efforts to rebuild the combat agencies against invasions of protected areas and deforestation throughout the country, after years of attack and dismantling.

"Today we have 53% of Ibama operational staff, the rest are vacant positions. The last government closed almost all the offices in the Amazon that used to give capillarity to the fight against deforestation. Therefore, we are working with a lot of creativity: a task force for remote embargoes, a wood traceability system and actions in non-designated areas. The big challenge is that we don't have legs for everything, but we choose targets and believe we are on the right path", said the president of Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), Rodrigo Agostinho.

"There is a directive from the Ministry of the Environment to resume and strengthen conservation units arising from the struggle of traditional peoples, focusing on extractive reserves”, said Luiz Francisco Ditzel Faraco, general coordinator of Social and Environmental Management at ICMBio (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation).


Exiles - extractivists are expelled by gunshots in Rondônia
Produced by:
Associação de Defesa Etnoambiental Kanindé, Organização dos Seringueiros de Rondônia and WWF-Brazil
Watch on the WWF-Brazil channel on Youtube: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dWLwu6X9gg
Exiles - extractivists are expelled by gunshots in Rondônia
© WWF-Brasil
Deputy Nilto Tatto (PT-SP), coordinator of the Environmental Parliamentary Front in the National Congress, and activist Txai Suruí, from Kanindé, during the release of the documentary in the National Congress
© Jacqueline Lisboa / WWF-Brasil
President of Ibama (Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources) Rodrigo Agostinho says that agency works with half the necessary staff
© Jacqueline Lisboa / WWF-Brasil