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October 12, 2020

Highway BR-163 in Northern Brazil Blocked Again for 6 Days

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

Approximately 200 members of two indigenous tribes, the Kayapo and the Mundurukudes, including women and children, set up roadblocks in northern Brazil on Highway BR-163 in the state of Para two weeks ago. They were protesting illegal gold mining and lumber extraction on their reserve. They wanted the outsiders to be expelled and arrested and they wanted to be given autonomy over the natural resources in their reserve.

The Brazilian Highway Department and the Military Police asked a judge for an injunction against the blockage and the judge agreed. At first the groups defied the judge's order but after six days of protests, they agreed with the judge's ruling and ended their protest mid-week last week. During the six days of protest, traffic was allowed through for one hour per day and there were not any conflicts.

Truckers were upset of course because they were losing income and there expenses were increasing as they were having a harder time securing food and water. The trucks were carrying soybeans, corn, limber, fuel, cooking gas, food, etc. Highway BR-163 is the most important highway in Mato Grosso linking the state to ports in northern Brazil.

Highway BR-163 will continue to be the focus of more protests in the future because it is such a "choke point" for the movement of grain and goods in central Brazil. Until there is an alternative way to move grain such as new railroads, any group that wants to gain attention for their cause will look at Highway BR-163 as the surest way to gain that attention. As soon as someone blocks the highway, reporters rush to the protestors inquiring about their cause, which is exactly what they want.