Last update:

Road construction through TI Waimiri Atroari, Amazonas - Roraima, Brazil

The construction of the BR-174 road by the Brazilian military in the 1970s has caused violent conflict with the Waimiri Atroari group. A historical legal process could lead to an official recognition of the state’s atrocities against indigenous peoples.


The BR-174 highway was controversially constructed between 1967 and 1977 in order to facilitate the economic exploitation of the region and connect Boa Vista, capital of Brazil’s northernmost state Roraima, with the city of Manaus in Amazonas. As part of an economic development offensive for the Amazon region, the road constructions formed the starting point for further large-scale development projects based on transnational capital in the 1980s with the objective to boost growth and urban industries, most notably hydropower production and export-directed tin mining in close distance to the BR-174 corridor. The highway cut through densely forested indigenous land and came with side roads to strategic points, e.g. one leading to the Pitinga cassiterite mine, causing violent conflict and the almost extinction of the Waimiri Atroari indigenous group (self-denomination: Kinja). [1] [2]

See more
Basic Data
Name of conflict:Road construction through TI Waimiri Atroari, Amazonas - Roraima, Brazil
State or province:Amazonas - Roraima
Location of conflict:Waimiri Atroari Indigenous Territory; Rorainópolis & Presidente Figueredo
Accuracy of locationMEDIUM (Regional level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Land acquisition conflicts
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Logging and non timber extraction
Specific commodities:Land
Live Animals
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The construction of BR-174 between Manaus, Amazonas, and Boa Vista, Roraima, was carried out between 1967 and 1977 and was part of the military government’s National Integration Plan (Plano Nacional de Integração; PNI). [7]

See more
Type of populationRural
Affected Population:~ 2,000 people in Waimiri Atroari reserve (more in general)
Start of the conflict:1967
Relevant government actors:FUNAI & Coordenação-Geral de Índios Isolados e Recém Contatados – CGIIRC/Funai
Comissão Nacional da Verdade (National Truth Commission;
Working Group: GT Violação dos Direitos dos Povos Indígenas e Regime Militar
Brazilian government (historically the military government)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associação Waimiri-Atroari
Movimento de Apoio a Resistência Waimiri Atroari; MAREWA
Comitê da Verdade, Memória e Justiça do Amazonas
CIMI (Indigenist Missionary Council)
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageIn REACTION to the implementation (during construction or operation)
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Local scientists/professionals
Religious groups
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Street protest/marches
Threats to use arms
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Soil contamination, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Potential: Fires, Noise pollution, Food insecurity (crop damage)
Other Environmental impactsPoisoning
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Infectious diseases, Deaths, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Malnutrition
Potential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession, Displacement
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Increase in violence and crime, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..), Loss of landscape/sense of place
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Institutional changes
Land demarcation
Court decision (undecided)
Violent targeting of activists
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:This is clearly a case of socio-environmental crime, which after more than five decades has no one held accountable. However, investigations are ongoing.
Sources & Materials
Related laws and legislations - Juridical texts related to the conflict

Civic Public Action No. 1001605-06-2017.4.01.3200 (ação civil pública; law suit about the massacre in the 1970s)

ILO Convention 169 on the rights of tribal people
[click to view]

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

2. Baines, S. (2008): The Reconstruction of Waimiri-Atroari Territory. In: Oliveira, A. (ed.): Decolonising Indigenous Rights, pp. 45–64. New York: Routledge.

15. Barni, P.; Silva, E. (2016): Extração seletiva de madeira em Rorainópolis: a floresta em perigo. XI Semana Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia no Estado de Roraima - Conference Paper, October 2016.
[click to view]

16. Comitê da Verdade, Memória e Justiça do Amazonas (2012): 1º Relatório do Comitê Estadual da Verdade: O Genocídio do Povo Waimiri-Atroari. Comitê da Verdade, Memória e Justiça do Amazonas, Manaus, Amazonas.
[click to view]

9. Instituto Socioambiental (2000): Povos indígenas no Brasil: 1996/2000, p. 360 sqq.
[click to view]

[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

3. Rocha, J. (2019): Brazil to build long-resisted Amazon transmission line on indigenous land. Mongabay, 13.03.2019. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

13. Lima, V. (2013): Em protesto, produtures colocam corrente no Centro de Boa Vista. G1 Globo, 06.09.2013. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

1. Waimiri Atroari – Indigenous Peoples in Brazil. Portal PIB Socioambiental. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

5. Branford, S. (2013): Brazil — Waimiri-Atroari indigenous massacre. LAB Online, 11.06.2013. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

6. Fearnside, P. (2018): O Genocídio dos Waimiri-Atroari: um possível reconhecimento histórico. Portal Amazônia Real, 12.03.2018. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

11. Branford, S. (2017): A stubborn dreamer who fought to save Amazon’s Waimiri-Atroari passes. Mongabay, 18.05.2017. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

7. BNC Amazonas (2019): Índios narram a Guernica Amazônica na construção da BR-174. 01.03.2019. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

8. FUNAI (2012): Funai restringe ingresso em nova área de índios isolados em Roraima. 27.12.2012. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

12. Capazoli, U. (1996): Waimiri-Atroari. Caderno Extra – O Estado de S. Paulo, 08.12.1996. (retrieved from Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

10. Plurais Blog (2017): Mineração Taboca. 20.10.2017. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

4. Llorente, E. (2019): Amazon tribe testifies Brazilian military slaughtered hundreds to make room for highway. FoxNews, 08.03.2019. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

14. Brandão, I. (2015): Índios bloqueiam dois trechos da BR-174 em Roraima e quebram asfalto. G1 Globo, 25.04.2015. Online, last access: 18.04.2019.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Foto ilustríssima - Terra indígena Uaimiri-Atroari
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:EnvJustice Project (MS)
Last update16/07/2019
Legal notice / Aviso legal
We use cookies for statistical purposes and to improve our services. By clicking "Accept cookies" you consent to place cookies when visiting the website. For more information, and to find out how to change the configuration of cookies, please read our cookie policy. Utilizamos cookies para realizar el análisis de la navegación de los usuarios y mejorar nuestros servicios. Al pulsar "Accept cookies" consiente dichas cookies. Puede obtener más información, o bien conocer cómo cambiar la configuración, pulsando en más información.