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Conflict between Indians and miners in the Cinta Larga lands in Rondonia, Brazil


Since the 60s there are conflicts between the Cinta Larga Indians and groups of artisan miners interested in exploiting diamond deposits in their traditional lands, an area of more than 2.6 million hectares designated by the Brazilian State as TI Roosevelt. According to studies conducted by the Departamento Nacional de Producao Mineral - DNPM, this deposits has the capacity to produce at least one million carats of diamonds. Although the Brazilian Constitution considers mineral exploitation on indigenous lands as illegal, there are bills seeking to revise it and regulate mining in this lands. The Agencia Brasileira de Inteligencia - ABIN estimates that at least 10% of the full potential of the deposit has already been removed illegally over the last fifty years.

Since 1969, the Brazilian State, through the FUNAI, started operating in the region. However, his performance was held in order to calm down the Indians and ensure continuity of mining. At that time, an Indian reservation was created to ensure the maintenance of the territory Cinta Larga. The boundaries of Indian lands have been revised several times, always reducing its total length.

Since then, the Indians Cinta Larga have being murdered by miners and occasionally also kill some of them. Out of the 5000 Cinta Larga people inhabiting the region in 1960, little more than 2000 still survive. Since 2002, the Cinta Larga intensified actions to pull miners out of their lands. In order to survive in an ever smaller and more cleared territory, they began to explore the diamonds themselves and sell them to international smugglers.

In 2003, the Ministerio Publico Federal - MPF reported that members of the Centro Mineiro de Conservacao da Natureza would be acting as representatives of the Companhia de Mineracao do Estado de Rondonia to negotiate diamond mining with the Indians. According to prosecutors, the then Governor of the State of Rondonia, Ivo Cassol, would be personally involved. In the following year, a Federal Police operation arrested at least 15 people for illegal exploitation of diamonds in Cinta Larga lands, many of whom State officials. Several Cinta Larga were murdered that year. As reprisal, Indians killed 29 miners in a joint action with other ethnic groups.

Since 2010, the indigenous leaders decided to suspend the mining on their lands, and rely on the support of the Federal Police to ensure that miners are out of it. However, Indians do not have their basic needs met. Occasionally, the FUNAI donates food baskets but many social projects intended to compensate them and ensure the development of their territory remain unimplemented. Therefore, illegal diamond mining is spreading quite fast. The Brazilian State has undertaken actions to curb this practice, but still do not guarantee to Indians sufficient alternatives for their livelihood.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Conflict between Indians and miners in the Cinta Larga lands in Rondonia, Brazil
State or province:Rondonia e Mato Grosso
Location of conflict:Espigao do Oeste, Pimenta Bueno e Rondolandia
Accuracy of locationLOW (Country level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Mineral Ores and Building Materials Extraction
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Mining exploration and/or ore extraction
Specific commodities:Diamonds

Project Details and Actors

Project details

According to studies conducted by the Departamento Nacional de Producao Mineral - DNPM, this deposits has the capacity to produce at least one million carats of diamonds.

Project area:2600000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1963
Company names or state enterprises:Companhia de Mineracao do Estado de Rondonia (CMR) from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Centro Mineiro de Conservacao da Natureza, Agencia Brasileira de Inteligencia - ABIN, Departamento Nacional de Producao Mineral - DNPM, Companhia de Pesquisa e Recursos Minerais - CPRM, Instituto Nacional de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Naturais Renovaveis - IBAMA, Ministerio de Minas e Energia - MME, Ministerio Publico Federal - MPF, Policia Federal - PF, Comissao Parlamentar de Direitos Humanos da Camara dos Deputados - CPDH/CD
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associacao Paerena Indigena Ecologica de Protecao Ambiental, Associacao Indigena Pamare, Conselho do Povo Cinta Larga - CPCL, Coordenacao das Organizacoes Indigenas do Povo Cinta Larga - Patjamaaj, Coordenacao das Organizacoes Indigenas da Amazonia Brasileira (Coiab), Articulacao dos Povos Indigenas do Brasil (Apib), Plataforma DHESCA Brasil

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Local ejos
Social movements
Forms of mobilization:Development of a network/collective action
Development of alternative proposals
Involvement of national and international NGOs
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Threats to use arms
The Indians many times called for carrying on the exploration of the deposit themselves.


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Food insecurity (crop damage), Noise pollution, Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Waste overflow, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Mine tailing spills
Health ImpactsVisible: Malnutrition, Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..), Infectious diseases, Deaths
Potential: Health problems related to alcoholism, prostitution, Occupational disease and accidents
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Displacement, Increase in violence and crime, Loss of livelihood, Militarization and increased police presence, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Social problems (alcoholism, prostitution, etc..)


Project StatusStopped
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Deaths, Assassinations, Murders
Land demarcation
New legislation
Application of existing regulations
Project cancelled
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the mining be considered illegal by the Brazilian State and most Cinta Larga have opted to suspend the diamond extraction on their lands. There are still groups that try to carry out mining in Indian territory.

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

TRINDADE, Reginaldo Pereira. Recomendacao 02/09/4 Ofcio/PR/RO do MPF para Funai. Ministerio Publico Federal em Rondonia, 07 jun. 2009. Disponivel em:

BRASIL. Portaria FUNAI n 490, de 13/05/2008 - Constitui Grupo Tarefa, GT, com a finalidade de implementar, coordenar e executar as acoes e medidas necessarias a viabilizacao do Plano Emergencial para Protecao Territorial, Etnossustentabilidade e Apoio as

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

MAPA DE CONFLITOS ENVOLVENDO INJUSTICA AMBIENTAL E SAUDE NO BRASIL. A terrvel historia dos Cinta Larga. Disponivel em: Acesso em: 24 jan. 2013.

CNPI apoia reivindicacoes do povo indigena Cinta Larga. Procuradoria Geral da Uniao, 01 out. 2009. Disponivel em:

INSTITUTO SOCIOAMBIENTAL. Os Cinta Larga, os diamantes e os conflitos: uma cronologia (1915-2004). Disponivel em:

FONTES, Cristiane. Comissao Interamericana de Direitos Humanos realiza audiencia inedita com liderancas indigenas. Socioambiental, 21 fev. 2003. Disponivel em:

ZANCHETTA, Ines. Campanha em apoio aos indios Cinta-Larga faz alerta ao governo brasileiro e a entidades internacionais. Socioambiental, 24 out. 2003. Disponivel em:

Acesso em: 24 jan. 2013.

ARANDA, Ana. Garimpo de Roosevelt e uma bomba prestes a explodir, alerta MPF/RO. Amazonia da Gente, 20 ago. 2011. Disponivel em:

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

You Tube video

Other comments:The first contacts between the national population and the Cinta Larga Indians happened in the early 20th century, when rubber gatherers entered in their territory. The conflict intensified in 1963, when the first prospectors began to invade their lands to decimate the indigenous population. In this year, the miner Francisco de Brito and a group of gunmen raided a village Cinta Larga and used a helicopter and dynamite to massacre the Indians. This episode became known as the Massacre of Parallel Eleven. A new slaughter occurred in 1968, when ten Indians were killed after attacking miners who invaded their territory.

Meta information

Contributor:Diogo Rocha
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:216