Mar 08, 2024

Groups Protest Construction of Ferrograo Railroad in Brazil

Author: Michael Cordonnier/Soybean & Corn Advisor, Inc.

On Monday, March 4th, various indigenous groups organized a protest against the construction of the Ferrograo Railroad in northern Brazil that would connect northern Mato Grosso with the Port of Miritituba on the Tapajos River. The indigenous groups included the Munduruku, Kayapo, Panana, and Xavante. Included in the protest were local fishermen and small family farmers.

The protest occurred in front of a Cargill port in the city of Santarem located on the Amazon River. The groups are protesting the fact that the 933-kilometer railroad would pass through a national park and close to indigenous lands with a population of approximately 2,600 individuals. They contend that the railroad would negatively impact their lands and their way of life.

The R$ 24 billion project would be constructed parallel to Highway BR-163 and serve as a more economical and sustainable way to transport grain and other materials because it would eliminate thousands of trucks that currently transport the grain.

In 2017, the ex-president Michel Temer, issued an executive order that allowed the railroad to traverse approximately 2,000 acres of a national park in exchange for expanding the park in other areas. Groups opposed to the railroad sued and the Brazilian Supreme Court decided that the Brazilian Congress was the only authority that could alter the boundaries of the national park and it could not be done by an executive order.

The entire project has been tied up in court since then. Last September, the Supreme Court judge Alexandre Moraes, suspended for six months any decision on the constitutionality of the railroad utilizing park land until additional environmental impact studies were completed and public hearing were held on the impact on local residents.

Last October, the Brazilian Ministry of Transportation created a working group consisting of representatives from the federal and local government, indigenous communities, and civil societies to consider the social and economic impact of the project.

Supreme Court judge Alexandre Moraes is expected to render his decision concerning the constitutional of the project before the end of March.