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Quilomboas of Conceicao das Crioulass struggle for land and water in Salgueiro/PE, Brazil


The quilombola community of Conceicao das Crioulas is located in the municipality of Salgueiro, in the central interior of Pernambuco, 550 km from Recife. It has about 750 families and its main economic activities are family farming, ranching and small-scale production in natural fibers, straw and clay. Local people has been fighting for many years for recognition of their territory that has been occupied by large scale farmers for a long time.

The settlement of the Salgueiro region dates back to the 18th century. Until that time it was inhabited by indigenous Cariri. With the conquest of the indigenous territory by Portuguese settlers led by Antonio da Cruz, the region was occupied by cattle ranching farms and cotton plantations. According to the oral memory of the community, Conceicao das Crioulas was founded by six freedom creoles who arrived at the site by fugitive slave Francisco Jose de Sa, which began to occupy land near the remaining villages of Atikum Indians. Working as cotton spinners, the former slaves purchased the land they occupied and built a chapel in honour of Nossa Senhora da Conceicao, giving the current name to the community.

However, the lands of the community continued to be occupied by farmers, causing the community to lose possession of part of its territory. This situation has worsened over the years. From 1987 onwards, the members of the community began to organize to demand that the State recognize their right over the land and expell the invaders of their territory. Titling of the land took place on July 14, 2000 through the Fundacao Cultural Palmares (FCP), however the land remained occupied by farmers.

In 2003, the Instituto Nacional de Colonizacao e Reforma Agraria (INCRA) became the responsible institution for the federal policy of recognition of quilombola territories. In 2004, INCRA began to revise the limits and the legal status of the lands of the community of Conceicao das Crioulas. From then on, the quilombolas were threatened with death by farmers who owned land in the area under study by INCRA. The complaints were forwarded to the Federal Ministerio Publico Federal (MPF) and in retaliation the Associacao Quilombola de Conceicao das Crioulas headquarters was set on fire.

In 2006, the quilombolas occupied the Fazenda Velha to press the State to regulate its territory. New arsons were caused on the site, destroying the home of quilombola Bartolomeu Dias de Paula.

Since 2011, the quilombolas have achieved important victories, when the sites Jurema, Chapada and the Fazenda Velha were expropriated and became officially the territory of the community, totalling an area of about 900 hectares. From that recognition, the community was able to access public funds to take advantage of a number of policies in the community, the most important of these was the signing of an agreement with the municipality of Salgueiro and the Government of the State of Pernambuco to ensure community access to water.

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Quilomboas of Conceicao das Crioulass struggle for land and water in Salgueiro/PE, Brazil
State or province:Pernambuco
Location of conflict:Salgueiro
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:Plantation conflicts (incl. Pulp
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Project area:18000
Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1987
Company names or state enterprises:Local farmers from Brazil
Relevant government actors:Fundacao Cultural Palmares - FCP, Ministerio do Desenvolvimento Agrario - MDA, Instituto Nacional de Colonizacao e Reforma Agraria - INCRA, Ministerio Publico Federal - MPF
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Associacao Quilombola de Conceicao das Crioulas

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityMEDIUM (street protests, visible mobilization)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Community-based participative research (popular epidemiology studies, etc..)
Creation of alternative reports/knowledge
Land occupation
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Occupation of buildings/public spaces


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover
Potential: Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Desertification/Drought, Food insecurity (crop damage), Soil contamination, Soil erosion, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion
Health ImpactsVisible: Violence related health impacts (homicides, rape, etc..)
Potential: Malnutrition
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Violations of human rights, Land dispossession
Potential: Increase in Corruption/Co-optation of different actors, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Land demarcation
Strengthening of participation
Violent targeting of activists
Application of existing regulations
Property damage due to fire in one of the community buildings.
Development of alternatives:Recognition of their title over their territory
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Despite the titling of part of the territory of the community, the majority still remains under farmers control.

Sources & Materials

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

ASSOCIACAO QUILOMBOLA DE CONCEICAO DAS CRIOULAS. Nova cartografia social dos povos e comunidades tradicionais do Brasil, 6. In: Access in: May 11, 2013.

SOUZA, Vania Rocha Fialho Paiva e. Conceicao das Crioulas, Salgueiro (PE) in O’Dwyer, Eliane Cantarino. Quilombos, identidade etnica e territorialidade. Editora FGV, Rio de Janeiro, 2002.

MAPA DE CONFLITOS ENVOLVENDO INJUSTICA AMBIENTAL E SAUDE NO BRASIL. Comunidade Quilombola de Conceicao das Crioulas luta por demarcacao de territorio tradicional. In: Access in: May 11, 2013.

LEITE, Maria Jorge dos Santos. CONCEICAO DAS CRIOULAS: terra, mulher e identidade etnica no Sertao de Pernambuco. Mestrado em Sociologia. Universidade Federal do Ceara Universidade Regional do Cariri. Fortaleza. 2001. Disponível em: Acesso em: 07 abr. 20

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

INCRA e imitido na posse de area do territorio quilombola Conceicao das Crioulas (PE). Instituto Nacional de Colonizacao e Reforma Agraria, 04 jun. 2012. In: Acess in: 09 abr. 2013.

COMISSAO PRO-INDIO DE SAO PAULO. Comunidades quilombolas do Estado de Pernambuco: Conceicao das Crioulas. In: Acess in: 07 abr. 2013.

Meta information

Contributor:Diogo Rocha
Last update18/08/2019