Amazon Under Siege

Entry type: Single project

Country/area: Brazil

Publishing organisation: The Intercept Brasil

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 2022-11-09

Language: Portuguese

Authors: Caroline Castro (reporting), Rodolfo Almeida (data visualization), Amanda Miranda (illustration), Rodrigo Bento (art direction)


Caroline Castro
Carol Castro is a human rights and public safety reporter in Rio de Janeiro. She graduated in journalism from the State University of Ponta Grossa and has worked at the magazines Galileu, Superinteressante, CartaCapital. She also collaborated with other media outlets such as UOL. She currently lives in Rio de Janeiro.

Rodolfo Almeida
Visual journalist at Nucleo and freelance dataviz designer, master’s student in design at EBA-UFRJ and researcher at LabVis

Amanda Miranda
Amanda Miranda (1995) is an illustrator and comic book author.

Rodrigo Bento
Rio de Janeiro-based illustrator and designer. Creator of the independent magazine Gato Preto.

Project description:

Bolsonaro’s disastrous firearms policy led to an explosion in the number of shooting clubs in the Amazon, correlating with an increase in violence in the region. I collaborated with The Intercept’s team producing maps and charts from this data.

Impact reached:

In the midst of the 2022 brazilian election, in which former president Jair Bolsonaro, weaponized the state to obtain a leverage in the election results, a piece on the militaristic nature of his ideology striked a nerve whith the readership. The piece was shared by thousands of readers on Twitter and attacked by bolsonaristas online.

Techniques/technologies used:

Working with the exclusive data obtained by The Intercept Brasil’s team, I used R stats to analyze it and obtain insights as to what was noteworthy and could be explored in individual charts. I then brought a bunch of the data points contained in the data to Qgis to generate static locator maps which would better situate the reader on the narrative. These were also the basis for the animated maps, showing the explosion in the number of shoooting clubs over time, as well as its correlation with the deforestation arc in the region.

Context about the project:

Brazil’s political context has been marked by tension between the military wings of the government and indigenous peoples in recent years, particularly under the administration of President Jair Bolsonaro. Bolsonaro, who has a history of making controversial and derogatory statements about indigenous peoples, has pushed for policies that prioritize economic development over the protection of indigenous rights and the environment.

One of Bolsonaro’s key campaign promises was to open up the Amazon rainforest for mining, logging, and agriculture. This policy has put him at odds with many indigenous communities who rely on the forest for their livelihoods and cultures. Bolsonaro has also sought to reduce the size of protected indigenous territories, arguing that they impede economic growth.

The government’s actions have been met with resistance from indigenous groups and their allies, who have organized protests and legal challenges. They have also been met with criticism from international organizations and governments, who have expressed concern about the impact of these policies on the environment and human rights.

The military wings of the government have also played a significant role in this debate. Some members of the military have supported Bolsonaro’s development policies, while others have spoken out against them, arguing that they could lead to increased violence and human rights abuses against indigenous peoples.

Overall, the relationship between the government and indigenous peoples in Brazil has become increasingly fraught under Bolsonaro’s administration, as the president’s agenda puts the interests of economic development ahead of the rights and well-being of indigenous communities.

What can other journalists learn from this project?

This piece has the potential to aid other journalists in establishing connections between geographical and social data in stories involving human rights and violence in the Amazon. By utilizing mapping techniques and data visualization tools, we were able to uncover patterns and trends in incidents of human rights abuses and violence that would have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Our findings have highlighted the importance of considering the geographical context in which these events occur, as well as the social dynamics at play. For example, we discovered that certain regions within the Amazon have higher rates of violence against indigenous communities and that these incidents are often linked to the presence of illegal logging and mining operations.

This type of investigative journalism is crucial in shedding light on the complex issues facing the Amazon and the people who call it home. It also serves as a powerful tool for holding those responsible for these abuses accountable. I believe that other journalists and media outlets can greatly benefit from incorporating similar methods and techniques in their reporting. This work has the potential to change the way human rights and violence are reported in the Amazon, and ultimately contribute to a better understanding of the issues, and potential solutions.

Project links: