Planet: Critical
Planet: Critical
The Untold Stories of the Amazon | Heriberto Araujo

The Untold Stories of the Amazon | Heriberto Araujo

The Lawless Jungle

“There were many businessmen and wealthy families who saw opportunity and decided to move to the Amazon to expand dramatically the land that they could own. There are some cases which are shocking—some landowners had ranches, or claimed to have ranches, the size of Cuba or Honduras…

“Maria Joel was a normal housewife with four underage children whose husband was murdered. She held her husband in her arms while he was dying. She had two choices. Either she simply move from the region, from this small town, and try to turn the page because she suspected that she would have to confront the economic and the political elite of the town. In one of those momentous situations of her life, she decided to stay in that town no matter the risk. What I found incredibly interesting from my book was exploring the feelings and the doubts and the controversies of a woman who would have chosen another life.”


The Amazon is in trouble—so are its people.

Journalist Heriberto Araujo has been investigating the stories of the Amazon for over a decade. In his forthcoming book: Masters of the Lost Land. The Untold Story of the Amazon and the Violent Fight for the World's Last Frontier he presents a three-year investigation to uncover a widespread underworld of violence, corruption, and impunity that has delivered the riches of the Amazon to a ruthless elite. But in this true crime story, set against the backdrop of the towering Brazilian jungle and unfolding over five decades, not everyone surrenders to the power of guns and money. And that's what makes the story extraordinary.

He joins me to tell the story of Maria Joel Dias Da Costa, the widow of murdered activist, José Dutra da Costa. Dezinho, as he was known, had rallied the rural worker’s union against rampant corruption of wealthy landowners driving deforestation and death through the jungle. He died in the arms of his wife after being shot outside their home. Maria took it upon herself to continue her husband’s work, confronting the political, economic and industry elites to save her home, family and community from these terrible forces.

Heriberto goes on to discuss the fascinating connection between inflation and land-grabbing in the Amazon, explaining how many people take land to protect their interests in an unstable economic climate, before taking a wider overview of Brazilian politics and relationship with China, and the impact that may have on the climate fight in coming years.

Planet: Critical investigates why the world is in crisis—and what to do about it. Support the project with a paid subscription.

© Rachel Donald
Planet: Critical
Planet: Critical
Planet: Critical is the podcast for a world in crisis. We face severe climate, energy, economic and political breakdown. Journalist Rachel Donald interviews those confronting the crisis, revealing what's really going on—and what needs to be done.