Altamira is a region of transition located in the Northern Brazil, between the Lowlands of Amazon and the Highlands of Brazil. The region also stretches to the shores of River Xingu which feeds the River Amazon as its tributary. The region has 109 meters of elevation. It is the largest municipality of in Para state of Brazil with 161,446 square kilometers. The region plays home to the local government consisting of the district and the city of Altamira. The inhabitants of the city are the minority groups living in the Amazon rainforest since the olden days. It has been here, in the state of Para, in the Amazon forest that the Ribeirinhos, the Amazon River people regarded as of the forests inhabited the area. They had lived in peace and tranquility for most of their lives before major and drastic changes started to cave in for them. The people had inhabited the land in the forests, having known nothing of the modern life many of us know right now. It was their home sweet home and their dearly beloved place that they had cherished for decades. It was until the government's plan for developments that changes began to take place to the community, making them adapt to a newer life that was unfamiliar to them before in the process of transition from feudalism to capitalism. The enclosure system posed major negative effects on the Ribeirinho people, condemning them to slavery and poverty. This paper seeks to discuss on the impacts of the enclosure system, the period that moved the people of Ribeirinhos from their old system of feudalism to the new system of capitalism. The paper will also highlight on the peoples responses to the move as well as their resistance to this move.
First, the enclosure system led to the displacement of the Ribeirinho community. These people were the original inhabitants of the Amazon region. The people have been having this place for a very long time, with generations being born in the area thus cherishing the place as their richness and their homeland. Due to the government's settlement in the region with the ideas of developments through the proposed Transamazon Highway as a megaprojects and the Belo Monte complex that included the setting up of one of the planet's biggest infrastructural project in form of an hydroelectric dam. The process of resettling the people came in the 1964-1985 dictatorship of the military-civilians. The people thus had to be pushed from their homelands to a new area that was unique to them. Imagine the process of being moved from a place stayed for years and being brought to a completely new area that one is not familiar with. Many ended up being squatters while other ended up living in uncomfortable places.
The enclosure system also condemned many people to poverty. Many people, an example being a man called Das Chagas, feels he was having a better life before relocating to Altamira. He had land to cultivate at his will. He would go to till his land if he wished and stayed at home if he did not feel like going. The people had the Amazon River where they would go to fish. Additionally, they had the woods in the Amazon forest and the beautiful scenery on the island. Thee place provided a beautiful serene with a lot of riches from the wild animals for meat and the wild trees where they would go for gathering fruits and herbs. As compared to their former place, here in Altamira, the people now have to deal with abject poverty, shanty houses and lack of money to provide for their basic needs such as food.
The enclosure system has also led to the environmental degradation of the region and ecological disturbance. During the launching and the construction of the Belo Monte dam, all the trees were cut down, which were seen as hindrances and obstacles to the development processes. Trees play an important role in temperature regulation and the regulation of the climatic conditions of a place. After the trees were cut down, it was reported that the temperatures of the area increase drastically, reaching a record of 40 degrees in the summer and 30 degrees in the winter season. The temperatures and the change in the environmental conditions started making the Ribeirinho community as they had been exposed to conditions they had not experienced. The dam also led to the drowning and the displacement of many animals living in the Amazon forest that served as food to the Ribeirinho community.
The enclosure system also condemned the Ribeirinho community to a new state of capitalism that they were not used to before. For the many years, the community has stayed in their land; they were used to a state forgive and take as part of trading. They neither were used to the money system as the state of having what they want. In the island, they were used to the hunting and gathering as their method of survival, but by their land being taken, they were forced into the Altamira city that had advanced in the use of the money system. These people thus were forced to work to get paid, pay to get their food, pay for electricity bills, thus having to get some poor jobs to sustain themselves and the families.
This process of moving from feudalism to capitalism did not just come easily without rebellion. The Ribeirinho community had resisted against this new way of life which had subjected them to abject poverty. The women had to go to work for meager earnings, as it was also in the time of the introduction of capitalism in the early United States. The process of transition in both the United States and in England both involved the settling in of economies of production which drove the ideas of currency with large companies being at the center stage. Here in Altamira, the locals had opposed against the process thus the company involved had to make compensations to the people for the loss.
According to personal view, the Ribeirinhos were treated and subjected in a manner that was cruel to them. It is not right to force people into a lifestyle that is not usual and normal to them as they had always gotten used to other methods of surviving. Making the Ribeirinhos to move from their feudal state to the capital state forcefully was adding salt to the injury of the great loss they had incurred. According to these people, they say that their before has already passed, the present life they are living in is the worst nightmare, and they are in darkness of what the future holds ion stall for them. Therefore, they demand that the government should make an effort of converting them back to the forest people they have been.For the socialists who argue that no one can own the land, it is not substantial to take rough measures to people who have been inhabitants of a place for a long time and just drive them away. The island has been a home to the Ribeirinhos. Thus they should be entitled as full owners and inhabitants of the place. Therefore, any procedure of relocating them should meet the required standards. Even if the project to be launched is of benefit to many people, it is unlawful and inhuman to condemn the people living in an area, despite them being a minority group, to struggles and strains they have not been used to. People have rights of ownership and therefore are entitled to that which they own. Thus, any process of denying them their property is against the law. Therefore, due procedures for relocation and resettlement should be done to ensure the people are resettled in a dignified manner and to a place that suits them best.
In conclusion, the Ribeirinhos have faced a lot of challenges in a process dubbed as a milestone of excellence in Brazil. These people of the forest have been subjected to poverty, risk of death at the hands of the drug dealers in the Altamira and an environment that does not favor them. The people have also been introduce to a new method of financial survival called capitalism, that forces them to be employed to earn a living and support their families, unlike the feudalism method that allowed them to continue with the subsistence farming and the forest life they were used to living.
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