The rumor that international actors are coveting the Amazon rainforest is hardly something new. Given its strategic, ecological and economic value, the collective imagination of the Amazon region has always been filled with accusations of sabotage, espionage, piracy, and imperialism from abroad.
It is entirely possible that the first of these tales dates back to 1689, when a German Jesuit by the name of Samuel Fritz was blocked by the Portuguese from returning to the Yurimágua tribe, in the Alto Solimões region, due to accusations of espionage. He was only able to make it back years later, accompanied by Portuguese troops.
Throughout the 18th century, the vulnerability of the Amazonian borders led Portugal to transform the local demographics, abolishing indigenous slavery in 1755, transforming religious villages into civil municipalities, and encouraging the miscegenation between whites and indigenous people in the region.