Enacted on February 5 of this year, the Brazil-USA space agreement for the use of the Alcântara Launch Center (CLA) in Maranhão is suffering yet another setback, related to the removal of quilombola communities established in the region.
However, the protests calling for the expansion of the space center area to the detriment of the centuries-old communities this time are coming directly from the United States. Uol reported on Monday (19) that, motivated by the Brazilian black movement, a group of North American congressmen intends to prevent the White House from allocating money to the project, if the populations are removed.
A clause in the American budget
In early October, a letter signed by Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders and MPs Deb Halaand, Hank Jonhson and Joaquin Castro was forwarded to the US Congress, formally requesting protection for Afro-Brazilian communities against forced withdrawals and racist attacks.
The purpose of the request is to include in the defense budget proposal for the United States in 2021, a clause that prohibits any kind of cooperation with Brazil that results in the eviction of quilombolas from their lands.
In the letter, congressmen are very clear: “[Under no circumstances] should US taxpayer dollars be used to forcibly relocate these centuries-old indigenous and quilombola communities”.
Threat to quilombolas
The agreement signed in March last year by Presidents Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro, the so-called Technological Safeguards Agreement (AST), provides that Americans use the CLA commercially. The Brazilian government states that the agreement could generate up to R $ 1.5 billion in investments in the region.
However, one of the essential conditions for the realization of the AST is that there is a territorial expansion of the rocket launch base, from the current 8 thousand hectares to 20 thousand hectares. This eventual expansion would advance over an area already inhabited by about 800 descendant and remnant families of fugitive slave communities, the quilombos, who have lived in the region since the 17th century.
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