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Posted on 29/6/13

The debt was the main instrument used by the cocoa colonels to take ownership of indigenous lands in the Olivença region. There were two major strategies for generating debt: On the one hand farmers took advantage of the economic precariousness of the indigenous to pay for funerals and required their land in exchange; on the other hand they settled small businesses in the region offering products to Indians in credit. Thus, the business looked very attractive at first became the doom of many families shortly after.

Farmers took advantage of the difficulty to have access to tools and other products not available in this region, such as salt and kerosene, just like the mirrors and machetes brought in the past by the Portuguese. But among these products, there was one that glittered more than the sun, enough to cause blindness: brandy (cachaça). Unaccustomed to the consumption of distilled alcohol many Indians fell into alcoholism. And as the sale was on credit, there was no brake for compulsion. Thus, the Indians were forced to hand over their lands to pay for what the owners told they should. The Indians began to live in a fenced land, a measured land, in property of a few.



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