Quilombolas Claim Ownership of Former Farm in São Paulo

Area Belonged to Religious Order that Leased Land with Slaves

Fernando Granato
São Roque (SP)

The Carmo neighborhood, in the rural area of São Roque (SP), is predominantly composed of Afro-descendants. Fifty-two families from a quilombola community live there.

For 17 years, they have been claiming ownership of the area of a former farm located there from the National Institute for Colonization and Agrarian Reform (Incra).

SÃO ROQUE, SP, BRASIL, 08-09-2023: The Quilombo do Carmo in São Roque(Foto: Bruno Santos/ Folhapress) - Folhapress

This farm belonged to the Fluminense Carmelite Province, a religious institution that arrived in Brazil in 1580.

Antônio da Cruz, 72, grandson of a enslaved man who worked on the property, recounts that in 1866, to settle debts, the religious order leased their captives to work for 20 years in the coffee plantations of Vale do Paraíba.

"The sisters made an agreement with the slaves so that after 20 years they could return and establish themselves on the farm in São Roque, where they could plant for their own benefit," he says.

However, the remaining quilombolas, with urban expansion and real estate speculation, lost a significant portion of the original area to land grabbers.

In 2017, as a way to pressure Incra, they occupied six hectares, which represents less than 1% of the original land.

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