Andrew Johnson

Photographer + Photojournalist
   
The Last Forest
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Nationality: Canadian
Biography: Andrew (b. 1987) is an award-winning visual journalist and storyteller based between his native Canada and adopted Brazil. His longterm work is focused on socio-environmental narratives related to the working class struggle against systemic... MORE
Public Story
The Last Forest
Copyright Andrew Johnson 2022
Updated Sep 2022
Location Alto Turiaçu
Topics Activism, Arrests and Prosecutions, Capitalism, Climate Change, Community, Conservation, Corruption, Discrimination, Documentary, Environment, Ethnic minorities, Forest, Genocide, Hope, Human Rights, International Stories, Isolation, Journalism, Latin America, Minority, Oppression, Personal Projects, Photography, Photojournalism, Race, Social Justice
Summary
The Ka’apor Indigenous people protect one of the last remaining tracts of rainforest in the eastern Brazilian Amazon. Amid government inaction, they have taken matters into their own hands creating an autonomous Indigenous territory that doesn’t require the presence of the state. Pioneers in the strategy of self-defense, the Ka’apor have inspired other Indigenous groups in the region. But while they have succeeded in repelling the “aggressors,” the Ka’apor continue to live under the constant threat of violence while the authorities charged with protecting them do nothing.
The Ka'apor indigenous people of the Brazilian Amazon administer one of the few autonomous indigenous territories in the world. After kicking out the Brazilian federal agency for indigenous affairs (Funai) in 2013 they revived their traditional governing council of chiefs and their own indigenous education system.

In the face of increasing pressure from land invaders, the Ka'apor devised a defense strategy of setting up permanent settlements along their borders to discourage further incursions. This strategy has so far succeeded in slowing the advance of loggers into their territory of around 3,000 hectares, home to more than half of the last remaining areas of intact primary rainforest in Maranhão.

But the region is under intense pressure from illegal logging, mining, and land grabbing. Land defenders like the Ka'apor are also under increasing physical danger as they struggle with few resources and the complete absence of state protection and assistance (indeed, many of the local municipal, state and federal representatives are themselves connected to the illegal activity and allied to president Bolsonaro or with ties to his current party).

The last decade has seen five Ka'apor murdered in acts of reprisals from criminal groups linked to local politicians. Many more have been threatened with death. Simply leaving their territory means risking their lives, but it's a risk they're willing to take in order to save their home, the forest, which we all rely on for our continued survival.



Part of an original report for Mongabay.
O povo Ka'apor da Amazônia brasileira administra um dos poucos territórios indígenas autônomos do mundo. Depois de expulsar a agência federal brasileira de assuntos indígenas (Funai) em 2013, eles reviveram seu tradicional conselhos de caciques e seu próprio sistema de educação indígena.

Diante da crescente pressão dos invasores de terras, os Ka'apor elaboraram uma estratégia de auto-defesa de estabelecer assentamentos permanentes ao longo de suas fronteiras para desencorajar novas incursões. Essa estratégia até agora conseguiu retardar o avanço de madeireiros em seu território de cerca de 3.000 hectares, que abriga mais da metade das últimas áreas remanescentes de floresta primária intacta no estado do Maranhão.

Mas a região está sob intensa pressão da extração ilegal de madeira, mineração e apropriação de terras. Defensores da terra como os Ka'apor também estão sob crescente perigo físico, pois lutam com poucos recursos e a completa ausência de proteção e assistência estatal (de fato, muitos dos representantes municipais, estaduais e federais locais estão ligados à atividade ilegal e aliados ao presidente Bolsonaro ou com vínculos com seu atual partido).

Na última década, cinco Ka'apor foram assassinados em atos de represália de grupos criminosos ligados a políticos locais. Muitos outros foram ameaçados de morte. Simplesmente deixar seu território significa arriscar suas vidas, mas é um risco que eles estão dispostos a correr para salvar sua casa, a floresta, da qual todos dependemos para nossa sobrevivência contínua.



Parte de um reportagem original para Mongabay.
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