Tapeba Indians threatened by companies and public policies in Caucaia, Ceara, Brazil.


After centuries of colonial appropriation of its traditional territory, today the Tapeba Indians are confined in an area of only 4 thousand hectares on the outskirts of the municipality of Caucaia, Ceará. Even this small area is now threatened by a variety of economic activities that impact directly on the traditional way of life of this people. They face strong political opposition at the municipal level, since the family Arruda, who has dominated the local political field for decades and politicians have committed resources to prevent the advancement of the process of demarcation of their lands.

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Basic Data
NameTapeba Indians threatened by companies and public policies in Caucaia, Ceara, Brazil.
Accuracy of LocationMEDIUM regional level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Biomass and Land Conflicts (Forests, Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock Management)
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Interbasin water transfers/transboundary water conflicts
Building materials extraction (quarries, sand, gravel)
Specific CommoditiesClay
Domestic municipal waste
Manufactured Products
Project Details and Actors
Project Area (in hectares)4000
Type of PopulationSemi-urban
Start Date1985
Company Names or State EnterprisesPrefeitura Municipal de Tapeba from Brazil
Governo do Estado do Ceara
Brazilian Technique of Food (TBA) from Brazil
Cerapeles from Brazil
Relevant government actorsFundacao Nacional do Indio , Ministerio da Justica , Superior Tribunal de Justica , Tribunal de Justica do Ceara
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)MEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Local government/political parties
Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Tapeba, Tremembé and Pitaguary Indians
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality
Potential: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Food insecurity (crop damage), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Malnutrition, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economic ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)
Project StatusIn operation
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCorruption
Court decision (victory for environmental justice)
Court decision (failure for environmental justice)
Strengthening of participation
Application of existing regulations
New Environmental Impact Assessment/Study
Do you consider this as a success?No
Why? Explain briefly.They have not yet succeeded in the demarcation of their traditional lands.

Sources and Materials

INSTITUTO SOCIOAMBIENTAL. Populacoes indigenas do Brasil. Tapeba: Informacoes gerais. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 09 mai. 2009.
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MAPA DE CONFLITOS ENVOLVENDO INJUSTICA AMBIENTAL E SAUDE NO BRASIL. Pioneiros na luta dos povos indigenas do Ceara, os indios Tapeba enfrentam o preconceito e as velhas oligarquias cearenses, mas vencem a invisibilidade pela arregimentação de forte corren
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INDIOS realizam manifestacoes amanhã no IBAMA e Semace contra degradacao ambiental e licenciamentos em Terras Indigenas. Combate Racismo Ambiental, 14 set. 2011. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 28 jun. 2013.
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INDIOS Tapeba realizam protesto contra Eixao das Aguas. Combate Racismo Ambiental, 03 nov. 2011. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 28 jun. 2013.
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MOREIRA, Aline. Tapebas bloqueiam rodovia em protesto. O Povo, 03 jul. 2012. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 25 jul. 2013.
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RIZZO, Alana. Transposicao do Sao Francisco tem 10 investigacoes do MPF em curso. O Estado de São Paulo, 18 jan. 2012. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 25 jul. 2013.
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URGENTE: Agora, em Caucaia, Ceara, manifestacao Tapeba contra Reintegracao de Posse. Combate Racismo Ambiental, 10 jul. 2012. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 25 jul. 2013.
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Media Links

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Manifestation of the TAPEBA People, at KM 14 BR 222, municipality of Caucaia, Ceará
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Tapeba Indians perform traditional ritual

Toré dance

Meta Information
ContributorDiogo Rocha
Last update08/04/2014