Photo: Black Brazilians in ‘quilombos’ counted in census | Political news

For the first time in its 132-year history, the Brazilian census currently underway will count members of the so-called “quilombo” communities founded by formerly enslaved people. Black people against the oppressive system.

On Ilha de Mare, an island with several quilombos off the coast of Salvador, northeast Brazil, the chance counts as a step in a political transformation which local organizers have long fought.

Marizelha Carlos Lopes, 52, a local activist and fishing woman on the island, said: “Participating in the census is a strategy for us, a strategy to protest and change. “One of our goals is to get rid of a purposeful stealth. “

Her friend Eliete Paraguassu, 42, is joining another front in strategy. She was the island’s first woman to campaign for a seat in the Bahia state legislature – one of a record number of Black candidates running for federal and state office in Brazil in elections this October.

With that, Brazil’s updated census and growing number of Black applicants are part of a slow calculation for centuries. slavery ended only in 1888, making Brazil the last country in the world to abolish the practice.

Quilombos were formed over the centuries by slaves escaping forced labor to create isolated, self-sufficient communities in remote forests and mountain ranges or on islands like Ilha de Mare .

The people of Quilombo now hope that counting their right numbers and more elected voices will open the door to improved social services and ensure rights for people and places that have not been there for so long. included in the official map.

The National Quilombo Association CONAQ has identified nearly 6,000 quilombo territories.

CONAQ head Antonio Joao Mendes said government recognition of communities has increased under the former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva two decades ago, when communities gained more formal rights to land and support for cultural programs.

Lula’s presidential candidate Mendes said this year was in stark contrast to incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro, who has dismantled many of those programs and slowed the recognition of additional quilombos.

Bolsonaro was fined 50,000 Brazilian reis ($10,000) in 2017 for insulting quilombo residents, saying “they do nothing” and “not even good for reproduction.” An appeals court dropped the case because he was a federal lawmaker at the time.

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