Pollution of Lagoa Encantada [Enchanted Lake], in the territory of the Jenipapo-Kanindé

The Jenipapo-Kanindé from Lagoa Encantada village live along the lake’s edge in the Jenipapo-Kanindé Indigenous Land, which lies in the municipality of Aquiraz in Ceará state.  It has an area of 1,731 hectares, with a population of 409 people comprising about 120 families. The Jenipapo-Kanindé’s main conflict is with the Pecém Agroindustrial Ltda. company, part of the Ypióca Group, which has been drawing water from Lake Encantada since 1980 to irrigate sugarcane monoculture.

The lake, in addition to being fundamental for the survival of Indigenous families, is extremely important as a sacred place which holds enchantments and, above all, protects the ancestry of this people.

The Jenipapo-Kanindé have denounced the company ever since it began to withdraw water. The indiscriminate removal of water caused a drop in the lake’s level. In addition, between 2006 and 2007, the company polluted the lake with vinasse, a byproduct of cachaça production. Many fish died because of these activities.

To prove that the environmental impacts had been caused by the water’s removal, the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), together with the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI), collected water samples for analysis on 29 November 2006. The results showed that the oxygen content around the pump that removed the water was 17 times lower than the value established by Resolution nº 357/2005 of the National Environmental Council (CONAMA). The presence of oil, grease and lead was also detected.

In 2007, the problem continued and other complaints were filed. At this juncture, according to village leaders, the company lost its license to export alcoholic beverages. In the same year, the company took village leaders and supporters of the Indigenous movement to court.

Between 2010 and 2012, the conflicts were more direct. In 2010 the National Indian Foundation, IBAMA and the State Superintendence for the Environment (SEMACE) sealed the pump to prevent the removal of water. In 2012, the Jenipapo-Kanindé, together with other Indigenous peoples from Ceará, mobilized to block access and prevent the water’s removal.

Besides damaging the lake, Ypióca filed numerous legal motions to block demarcation of the Jenipapo-Kanindé Indigenous Land. In 2011, the company obtained an injunction suspending demarcation.

However, in 2017, after a long struggle, the Jenipapo-Kanindé obtained the demarcation of their lands via a decision by the Federal Supreme Court. The next step is ratification of the Indigenous Land, so that the non-Indigenous squatters can be removed from the area.

It is important to realize that this was a great victory for the Jenipapo-Kanindé. After the signing of the declaratory order, IBAMA ordered Ypióca to remove the pump and pipes that withdrew the water within three months.


DECISÃO de ministro do STF favorece demarcação dos Jenipapo-Kanindé. 2017. In: Terras Indígenas no Brasil. São Paulo, Instituto Socioambiental, 12 set. Available at: https://terrasindigenas.org.br/pt-br/noticia/182350. Accessed: 15 Oct. 2019.

SILVA, Isabelle Braz Peixoto da; AIRES, Max Maranhão Piorsky (org.). 2009. Direitos humanos e a questão indígena no Ceará: relatório do Observatório Indígena Biênio 2007-2008. Fortaleza, Edições UFC.

Peoples impactedJenipapo-Kanindé
Indigenous Lands impactedTerra Indígena (TI) Jenipapo-Kanindé
Period of ViolationDe 2006 a 2012
Type(s) of population Rural
Source(s) of information Book
Cause(s) of violation Land conflicts
Water management
Waste management
Specific materials Water
Industrial waste
Company(s) and government entity(s)Pecém Agroindustrial Ltda., do grupo empresarial Ypióca
Relevant government actorsNational Indian Foundation, Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources, State Superintendence for the Environment
Type(s) of financing National
O estado da mobilização diante da violação High (general organising, en masse, violence, prisons, etc)
Medium (street protests, visible organising)
When did the organising start?Entre 2007 e 2012.
Group(s) that are organising Scientists / local professionals
Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Form(s) of organisingEm 2007, o povo Jenipapo-Kanindé participou da mobilização conhecida como Grito dos Excluídos, no centro de Fortaleza, ocasião em que repudiou o processo de destruição causado pela Ypióca. Em função dessa mobilização, a empresa processou dois indígenas e dois apoiadores do movimento indígena. Em 2012, junto com outros povos do Ceará, os Jenipapo-Kanindé retomaram a área onde está instalada a bomba que retira água da Lagoa Encantada. Nessa mobilização, realizou-se um bloqueio no acesso à lagoa, para impedir a retirada de água.
Environmental impactsVisible
Health impactsVisible
Socio-economic impactsVisible
Positive progress in the violation processIn 2017, after years of struggle, both against the company and for the demarcation of the Jenipapo-Kanindé Indigenous Land, the demarcation process advanced a step. The Federal Supreme Court declared the Indigenous Land demarcated, allowing the area to pass on to the ratification stage. Another important advance was an order by the Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA), giving Ypióca three months to remove the pump and pipes that withdrew water from Lake Encantada.
Negative progress in the violation processThe setbacks were the lowering of the lake’s water level and the loss of fish.
Viable alternatives for a solution to the violationThe ratification of the Jenipapo-Kanindé Indigenous Land, so that the non-Indigenous squatters are properly removed from the area.
Date form filled out27/01/2021

Raquel da Silva Alves

Raquel da Silva Alves

Raquel da Silva Alves nasceu em 19 de agosto de 1998. Indígena do povo Jenipapo-Kanindé, do Ceará, faz parte do Núcleo de Jovens Monitores do Museu Indígena Jenipapo-Kanindé. É graduanda em Serviço Social pela Universidade Federal do Recôncavo da Bahia (UFRB), onde é membra do Coletivo de Estudantes Indígenas. Participou como bolsista voluntária do Programa Pega a Visão: Estratégias de Comunicação para Políticas Públicas de Cuidados e Redução de Danos para Jovens e Pessoas em Situação de Rua, coordenado por Edgilson Tavares de Araújo, e foi bolsista do Projeto Mapeamento das Violações aos Direitos Indígenas no Nordeste do Brasil. Recentemente, foi aprovada pelo Projeto Ecowomen, como jovem embaixadora.