For Descendants of Brazil’s Slaves, a Quest for Land
The above link and title belong to an NPR story that was about the quilombolas, and their inhabitants. The reporter, Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, profiles a quilombola community in the Mata Atlantica which is a tropical coastal forest between São Paulo and Rio de Janiero. Two people from the community are interviewed, Laura de Jesus Braga and Jose Veira; they give their opinions on the importance of land rights, and some history on the start of quilombos along with their own personal stories. Garcia-Navarro also interviewed Rosana Schwartz a historian and sociologist who specializes in quilombolas. The report also includes many interesting facts about land ownership in Brazil.
The fact that the reporter had to translate what Laura and Jose said discouraged me from using the source at first, but I found what they said to be impactful so I stuck to the source.
I particularly liked what Laura had to say during the interview, you can hear her at minute 1 in the audio. She states that “land rights are important because of what their ancestors suffered”, you then hear her speak (or rather the report) and she says:
“I think that if we recover the land, the culture, everything they liked to do, that’s the way to show them — wherever they are — that we are fine,” she says in Portuguese. “They had nothing, but we are fine.” (Garcia, For the Descendants)
Throughout my research I have seen a lot of references to Brazilians questioning the ancestry of the quilombola communities and I also have not found a quote from a quilombola member mentioning their ancestry. I know the quilombolas land rights are related to the suffering of their ancestors so what Laura said really resonated with me, she gave a very concise and thoughtful reason for why land rights are important to quilombola communities.
Garcia-Navarro’s interview with Jose at minute 2 explains the history of the formation of quilombo communities. The reporter comments on how uneven land is distributed in Brazil stating “forty percent Brazil’s rural area is owned by 1.4 percent of landholder” which was extremely shocking to me. It also mentions the fact that the community members will never be able to give the land to their children due to the fact that they are considered “squatters” in the land their ancestors settled. By doing so she emphasized how unfair the Brazilian government is to these people. It is almost like a small call to action to give this community their land. Like in many news stories the side portrayed as unjust declines to comment, in this case it was the park authorities.
Even though the reporter describes her surroundings, the sound of the water in the back ground creates in the listeners mind that picture that she is describing. By it being purely an audio source, it allows the listener to use their imagination to create the faces of the interviewees, and create their own conclusions of the severity of the quilombola situation in Brazil.
The voice of the interviewees is very intriguing to me in any audio source because it can tell us a lot about the person even though we can not see them. We first hear the voice of Laura and Jose, they sound like regular day to day people, and their Portuguese (the little you can hear) sounds more rush together and not as clear. On the other hand when we hear the voice of the historian, her Portuguese sounds very clear and is spoken slower making it easier to understand. Automatically we can hear the distinction which allows give us further clues to their persona such as their education level, and their socioeconomic status.
Audio source can not always give us the full story due to time constraints. In this case, the clip is about six minutes long so it only developed more intrigue for me in this community. For instance, I would want to know more about their case because it is so unique due its location in national park.
Overall this audio source was a great way to gain insight on the thoughts of the quilombola members. The listener is able to obtain the sense of the unfair situation the community members are living. This story creates a call to action to at least find out more information on this case and the land rights in Brazil.