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Posted on 29/6/13

Caboclo Marcelino lived in Olivença during the 1930s and was the central character of a great resistance movement of the indigenous to the robbery of their land by cocoa coronals. It is one of the main symbols of the Tupinambá struggle for land. Marcelino is the warrior who cried before those who tried to make Olivença the ‘Silent Land’.

Everyone knows in Olivença about Marcelino’s fight against the construction of the bridge over the Cururupe river. But Marcelino was not only against the construction of this bridge, but what it represented: this bridge would generate the consolidation of large cocoa plantations in the region, allowing the coronals to export production more easily. The fight of this warrior was against a certain kind of progress, but it was also to stop the process of expropriation of indigenous lands, and the theft of indigenous turning it into private and Tupinambá on employees of the coronals.

Marcelino could read and write and this bothered the powerful of the time. Because of his struggle, he was pursued by the police and charged with crimes such as rape and murder. The warriors who accompanied him were arrested and tortured. But the Indians understood the importance of the fight, and using his deep knowledge of the territory and the forest gave coverage to Marcelino. Thus, their struggle endured for about 20 years.



Marcelino surrendered to protect the people, and was arrested on November 06, 1936. No one knows what happened to him in prison, and the Caboclo was never seen again leading the Indians in their struggle. Still, some say that he managed to escape through the woods and still spent many years living in nature. Others say he was fighting in the war with Paraguay and died in Rio de Janeiro many years later. There are many stories about what happened to Marcelino after his arrest and at the end of his life. But somehow, his life and struggle are always being taken up and remembered in the daily practices of Tupinambá warriors and leaders, for instance in the annual walk from Olivença to the Cururupe river to remember and honor this and other warriors of the past who, like Marcelino, never die.

Caboclo Marcelino




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