Superintendency for the Development of Amazonia (SUDAM)

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Superintendency for the Development of Amazonia (SUDAM)

Superintendency for the Development of Amazonia (Superintendencia do Desenvolvimento da Amazonia—SUDAM) was a Brazilian government agency that administered developmental projects in Amazonia—a vast 2-million-square-mile area of northern Brazil, with a 2005 population of 6-7 million. Created in 1966, SUDAM was headquartered in Belém, Pará. The agency oversaw the Fiscal Incentive Law of October 1966, which granted tax exemptions and deductions for certain investments within the region. The agency emphasized projects that called for territorial occupation for the extraction of regional resources by regional labor.

In 1970 disputes over land ownership between SUDAM-supported ranchers and indigenous Indians and rural peasants led to violence. By 1973 the upheaval caused a shift in government policy from supporting homesteads to promoting large agribusiness interests, whose purpose was to lay the groundwork for the expansion of large domestic and multinational agribusinesses into the Amazon Basin and to increase the export agricultural capacity of the Brazilian economy. These new goals threatened the territorial integrity of indigenous and peasant populations, increasing the disparities between land-poor and land-rich inhabitants, while creating a class of exploited agricultural workers. This decreased the food supply in the domestic market, which worsened the severe pattern of hunger and malnourishment already present.

Into the twenty-first century, SUDAM's primary mission remained the development of the Amazon Basin. Yet in the face of deforestation, continuing violence, lawlessness, and a massive corruption scandal involving high-ranking politicians, the Brazilian government closed the agency in 2002.

See alsoBrazil, Geography; Indigenous Peoples.


Stefan H. Robock, Brazil: A Study in Development Progress (1975).

Shelton H. Davis, Victims of the Miracle (1977).

Lawrence S. Graham and Robert H. Wilson, The Political Economy of Brazil: Public Policies in an Era of Transition (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Little, Paul E. Amazonia: Territorial Struggles on Perennial Frontiers. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001.

Posey, Darrell Addison, and Michael J. Balick, eds. Human Impacts on Amazonia: The Role of Traditional Ecological Knowledge in Conservation and Development. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006.

Schmink, Marianne, and Charles H. Wood. Contested Frontiers in Amazonia. New York: Columbia University Press, 1992.

                                 Michael J. Broyles