For Brazil’s historic slave communities, the future is uncertain

Kalungas, a traditional slave community in Brazil
Photo: Weverson Paulino/EBC

“This decision messes with our lives,” says Denilson Rodrigues. “It could put to rest our entire history, our entire identity.”

Rodrigues has spent his entire life in Ivaporunduva, the oldest quilombo community in São Paulo’s pristine Vale do Ribeira. Unlike the vast majority of Brazil’s quilombos – secretive communities formed by runaway slaves in the West’s last country to abolish slavery – Rodrigues’s community has a land title. But Rodrigues, now a coordinator at National Coordination of Articulation of Quilombolas Rural Black Communities (CONAQ), is concerned that even the fate of his community hangs in the balance.

In August this...

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