The Seringueiros

After the second world war the Brazilian rubber production came into crisis again. But in spite of the low price the rubber stayed the main product of export of Acre. What had changed was the economic structure. After most of the Seringalistas (owners of the rubber-extraction areas) had gone bankrupt, the remaining rubber-tappers or "Seringueiros" became owners of their land and entitled to farm (which was prohibited for them before). They sold the rubber to traders called "Regatões" or "Mareteiros". However the Regatões usually cheated the seringueiros and like the former seringalistas maintained them in economic dependence. o trabalho do seringueiro The seringueiro regularly walks the several miles long paths where the rubber trees (Braz.: Seringa) stand and applies sloping cuts to their bark. The emanating latex slowly flows into a pot that is tied to the tree and can be collected at the next walk. Initially the liquid latex was laid on sticks that were constantly turned in the smoke. The warmth made the latex solid and the smoke resistant against fungus. That way rubber bales of about half a meter of diameter were being made. Nowadays this method is hardly being used any more. Meanwhile there are other techniques for processing the latex without smoke. Being a seringueiro is still today the most common form of life among the inhabitants of the forest. The seringueiros, mostly Indians or half-breeds (Braz.: Caboclos) not only extract the latex (the raw material for rubber) but also other products of the forest, mainly Brazil nuts. They hunt and cultivate to a small extent for their own use and live in simple huts covered with palm leaves. Many times there is no school and no medical assistance in the areas where they live. The caring and sustainable use of the rain forest by the seringueiros is an existing, ecologically sound form of coexistence of man and rain forest. The ecological situation of the Amazon is inseparably connected with the economical and social situation of the seringueiros...


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