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Illegal logging and displacement and killing of landless peasants in Colniza, Mato Grosso, Brazil

The deforestation cycle ‘timber-cattle-soy’ reaches northwest Mato Grosso. Landless peasants are pushed to the margins, threatened by land grabbers and loggers. While killings of peasants remain unpunished, timber exports continue.


Gleba Taquaruçu do Norte is an agricultural settlement located in the municipality of Colniza in the northwest of Mato Grosso. The area was explored by gold prospectors in the 1980s and roads primarily opened by loggers. It remains isolated until today but is increasingly characterized by agrarian conflict and deforestation. Disputes between landless peasants, farmers and loggers have been ongoing for a longer time, escalating in the killing of landless peasants and the displacement of large parts of the community. [1][2] 

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Illegal logging and displacement and killing of landless peasants in Colniza, Mato Grosso, Brazil
State or province:Mato Grosso
Location of conflict:Gleba Taquaruçu do Norte / Colniza
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Intensive food production (monoculture and livestock)
Mineral ore exploration
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Gleba Taquaruçu do Norte is located in the district of Guariba at the northern end of Mato Grosso, at the border with Amazonas and Rondônia, about 230 km from the town of Colniza and 1,065 km from Cuiabá. The area is isolated and only accessible via a dirt road that is in poor condition, leading from kilometer 170 of the Tin Highway through dense forest, and is claimed by the rural workers cooperative ‘Cooperoosevelt’ as agricultural settlement (Assentament Roosevelt – Gleba Taquaruçu). [2][3][13]

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Project area: 42,715
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:~ 200 families
Start of the conflict:2004
Company names or state enterprises:Lagoa das Conchas from Brazil - sawmill allegedly involved in illegal logging in Taquaruçu
Tiger Deck from United States of America - imports conflict timber from Brazil
Cedroarana from Brazil - internationally exports conflict timber
Relevant government actors:Secretaria de Estado de Segurança Pública (Sesp-MT)
Instituto Terras de Mato Grosso
Public Ministry
Agrarian Court of Cuiabá
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Cooperativa Agrícola Mista de Produção Roosevelt (Cooperoosevelt)
Associação de Pequenos Produtores Rurais de Taquaruçu do Norte
Associação de Produtores Rurais Nova União
Comissão Pastoral da Terra (CPT)
Ordem dos Advogados do Brasil (OAB/MT)
Movimento dos Sem-Terra (MST)
Trabalhadores da Agricultura (Fetagrii-MT)
Instituto Centro de Vida (ICV)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:International ejos
Local ejos
Landless peasants
Social movements
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Fires, Food insecurity (crop damage), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Global warming, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil erosion, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Infectious diseases
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Specific impacts on women, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Corruption
Criminalization of activists
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Institutional changes
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (undecided)
Violent targeting of activists
Development of alternatives:Landless peasants and supportive organizations demand land titles and the right for communities to live from sustainable, small-scale agriculture, opposing a capitalist-extractivist model of agriculture that leads to violence and environmental destruction.

Instituto Centro de Vida, whose analysis of recent deforestation rates presented a devastating picture particularly for the northeast of Mato Grosso, gives three policy recommendations: 1. Intensify monitoring and surveillance, especially to detect large-scale deforestation in the northeast. 2. Improvements in land registers and implementation of respective regulations of the Forest Code. 3. Transparency in providing environmental monitoring to the public.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Although the landless peasants in 2004 have temporarily achieved the right to stay and use the land, the struggle is ongoing and overshadowed by forced displacements and violent killings.
Sources & Materials
Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[2] Maissonave, F. (2017): Chacina em Mato Grosso foi precedida por episódios violentos registrados. Folha de S. Paulo, 30.04.2017.
[click to view]

[1] Lessa, F.; Tomazela, J. (2017): Vítimas de chacina em Mato Grosso foram assassinadas com tiros e golpes de facão. O Estado de S. Paulo, 22.04.2017.
[click to view]

[5] Maissonave, F. (2017): Área de chacina no Mato Grosso tem indefinição fundiária. Folha de S.Paulo, 30.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 20.12.2019)
[click to view]

[6] GazetaDigital (2010): Mortes e insegurança dominam área rural de Colniza há 6 anos. 27.06.2010. (Online, last accessed: 20.12.2019)
[click to view]

[7] SóNotícias (2007): Confirmados 24 presos por homicídio e cárcere privado em Colniza. 29.08.2007. (Online, last accessed: 20.12.2019)
[click to view]

[12] Dulce, E. (2018): Massacre de Colniza, no Mato Grosso, segue impune há mais de um ano. Brasil de Fato, 26.04.2018. (Online, last accessed: 26.12.2019)
[click to view]

[22] Lessa, F. (2017): Quatro homens foram os autores da chacina em MT; vítimas sofreram tortura.

O Estado de S. Paulo, 23.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 26.12.2019)
[click to view]

[8] Souza, A., Holland, C., Soares, D. (2017): Cinco trabalhadores foram mortos há 11 anos em área de chacina em Colniza (MT). G1, 26.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 20.12.2019)
[click to view]

[9] Montesanti, B. (2017): A chacina de Mato Grosso e os números da violência rural no país. Nexo Jornal, 25.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 20.12.2019)
[click to view]

[13] Anjos, L. (2017): Nove assassinados em área rural de MT apresentam sinais de tortura, diz perícia. G1, 22.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 26.12.2019)
[click to view]

[1] Lessa, F.; Tomazela, J. (2017): Vítimas de chacina em Mato Grosso foram assassinadas com tiros e golpes de facão. O Estado de S. Paulo, 22.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 20.12.2019)
[click to view]

[2] Maissonave, F. (2017): Chacina em Mato Grosso foi precedida por episódios violentos registrados. Folha de S. Paulo, 30.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 20.12.2019)
[click to view]

[14] Castilho, A., Sanchez, I. (2017): Suspeito de articular massacre em Colniza exporta, foragido, madeira para os EUA. De Olho Nos Ruralistas, 07.11.2017. (Online, last accessed: 20.12.2019)
[click to view]

[15] G1 (2019): MP pede à Justiça júri popular de mandante e executor de chacina ocorrida há 2 anos em Colniza (MT). 10.04.2019. (Online, last accessed: 26.12.2019)
[click to view]

[16] Araújo, P. (2017): Madeireiras de acusado de ser o mandante de chacina em Colniza (MT) continuam funcionando a pleno vapor, diz ONG. G1, 23.11.2017. (Online, last accessed: 26.12.2019)
[click to view]

[17] Maissonave, F. (2018): Testemunha de massacre em MT relatou atentado, afirma Promotoria. Folha de S.Paulo, 31.08.2018. (Online, last accessed: 26.12.2019)
[click to view]

[18] G1 (2018): Chacina em Colniza completa um ano e suposto mandante está foragido. 10.04.2018.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[21] G1 (2017): Famílias de sem-terra deixam vilarejo de MT onde chacina matou nove. 23.04.2017. (Online, last accessed: 26.12.2019)
[click to view]

Other documents

Abandoned houses after the 2017 massacre (Adriano Vizoni, Folhapress)
[click to view]

The 'linha 15' settlement in Gleba Taquaruçu became attacked in 2017, nine peasants were killed (TVCA)
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice Project (MS)
Last update23/03/2020
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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