Environment ‘It affects indigenous people’s rights’, says activist Ailton Krenak about market pressure against protected areas

For the activist, it is the market that determines what should or should not be protected (Mathilde Missioneiro/ Folhapress)

Bruno Pacheco – from Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – Considered by critics and experts as one of the greatest activists of the socio-environmental movement and the defense of indigenous peoples, the indigenous leader, Aiton Krenak, criticized on Wednesday, 3, the economic market pressure against protected areas that affects, especially, the right of traditional populations dependent on extractivism. For the activist, it is the market that determines what is going to be protected and no Latin American leader is able to contradict these determinations.

“The market determines what is going to be protected. I don’t see, in any country in South America, any government capable of facing up to the pressure that the market puts on our territories. Mining, logging, the expansion of agribusiness, the power of agro-industry invading these territories, cutting down the forests, bringing in cars, soybeans, and, above all, expelling human communities. The native peoples are plagued by the model of occupation of this region of Latin America, the Amazon basin”, said the indigenous leader.

Aiton Krenak’s statement occurred during the opening conference of the 10th Brazilian Seminar on Protected Areas and Social Inclusion (Sapis) and 5th Latin American Meeting on Protected Areas and Social Inclusion (Elapis). The event will take place online from November 3rd to 6th this year, bringing together specialists from various fields to discuss environmental protection and propose sustainable improvements for land management.


According to the indigenous leader, a priority area for conservation is one where human communities would be able to manage and produce a creative response for themselves and for the environment where they live. Or even, the one chosen by technicians, engineers, and environmental managers where the human component is no longer part of this priority and is perceived as a threat.

For Ailton, however, there are direct actions by the Brazilian State itself to change the category of priority areas for conservation to meet the demands of the market and the pressure of the wealth extraction model that capitalism imposes on the Amazon basin region.

“[This] directly affects the rights of peoples, whether indigenous or riverside communities, who have lived since the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries from extractivism, from resources that are internal to the forest and that did not depend on a road, port, physical infrastructure implemented by regional governments, but that are having their territories crossed; every kind of invasion can implement an infrastructure to meet economic growth”, warned the specialist.

Ailton Krenak

Born in 1953, in the region of Vale do Rio Doce, where the Krenak Indigenous Land is located, Ailton Krenak, 68, is a journalist, an honorary doctorate from the Federal University of Juiz de Fora, and Minas Gerais, and author of the books “Ideas to Postpone the End of the World” and “Life Is Not Useful.

The writer and environmentalist Ailton Krenak (Mathilde Missioneiro/Folhapress)

A defender of the environment, the indigenous leader spoke at the Constituent Assembly, in 1987, with his face painted black as a form of protest against those who threaten the indigenous peoples. On that occasion, Ailton Krenak made a warning about deforestation in the Amazon.

In 2016, the environmentalist had his house devastated after the rupture of the Fundão tailings dam in Mariana, considered the biggest environmental disaster in Brazil and which turns six years old last November 5.

The event

The Brazilian Seminar on Protected Areas and Social Inclusion (Sapis) has been held since 2005, with the first edition held at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), through the Postgraduate Program in Community Psychosociology and Social Ecology (EICOS/IP/UFRJ).

Since then, editions have been held in Rio de Janeiro (2005 and 2006), Teresópolis (2007), Belém (2009), Manaus (2011), Belo Horizonte (2013), Florianópolis (2014), Niterói (2017), and Recife (2019). As of 2013, it gained an international character, when it began to be held jointly with the Latin American Meeting on Protected Areas and Social Inclusion (Elapis).

Amid the challenge of managing protected areas in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and with the increase in deforestation, which has worried environmental experts, the seminar and meeting have as its central theme the “Self-management and sustainable territorial development of protected areas: dialogues, learning and resilience”. The initiative counts on conferences and round tables held in virtual mode, always starting at 9am from Brasília.

This year, the event is being held in Manaus, capital of Amazonas state. The program will be broadcasted by the Doity Play platform. In this edition, the V Elapis will have a full day of programming with the central themes of Equity and Diversity with the participation of important social and academic leaders from Latin America.

In the 2021 edition, the event is being organized by three education and research institutions in the state of Amazonas: the Federal University of Amazonas (Ufam), by the Postgraduate Program in Environmental Sciences and Sustainability in the Amazon (PPGCASA), the Amazonas State University (UEA), by the Interdisciplinary Postgraduate Program in Humanities (PPGICH) and the National Institute for Amazonian Research (Inpa), by the Master in Management of Protected Areas in the Amazon (MPGAP).