Today the Tremembé live in the municipalities of Itarema, Acaraú and Itapipoca (all in Ceará state). They are spread among 15 villages, which lie in the zona da mata and beach regions.
In the 1970s, the Tremembé began to suffer territorial attacks from agro-industrial companies moving into their lands. Prominent among them is Ducoco Agrícola S.A., which makes food products and has large scale coconut plantations on the Tremembé de Almofala Indigenous Land.
The company was operating at Fazenda São Gabriel, another Tremembé area, before moving all of its operations onto the Indigenous Land.
The first conflicts with Ducoco were with Indigenous people living in the zona da mata. When the company expanded towards the beach, the villages combined their forces to remove the company, but were unsuccessful. The company now concentrates its activities in the beach zone of the Tremembé de Almofala Indigenous Land.
The Tremembé inhabit 9,247 hectares, of which 4,900 hectares comprise the Tremembé de Almofala Indigenous Land. Ducoco uses 1,400 hectares of this. Most of their coconut plantations are in the villages of Batedeira I and II, Vila da Tapera and Varjota.
In 1993, the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) presidency approved the Circumstantiated Identification and Delimitation Report of the Tremembé de Almofala Indigenous Land and passed it on to the Justice Ministry. However, state representatives from the municipality of Itarema contested the process, and Ducoco filed legal actions against the demarcation.
Ducoco’s lawyers challenged the anthropological studies upon which the Circumstantiated Identification and Delimitation Report was based. They alleged that the anthropologist had direct influence on the Indigenous community. The demarcation has been suspended by the courts since 1996, with the suit at the 27th federal court in Itapipoca.
As can be seen, the company has made it impossible to recognize Tremembé land rights, by tying the demarcation process up in the courts.
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