Waiapi men into the jungle in the Waiapi indigenous reserve in Amapa state in Brazil on October 14, 2017.
/ AFP / Apu Gomes
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WAIAPI, Brazil: They appear silently, seemingly from nowhere: a dozen figures, naked except for bright red loincloths, blocking the dirt road.These are the Waiapi, an ancient tribe living in Brazil's Amazon rainforest but now fearing invasion by international mining companies.Leading AFP reporters to a tiny settlement of palm-thatched huts hidden in foliage, the tribesmen streaked in red and black dye vow to defend their territory. They brandish six-foot (two-meter) bows and arrows to reinforce the point.The dirt road is the only route into Waiapi territory.Known as the Northern Perimetral, highway 210 was started under the 1964-1985 military dictatorship with the aim of linking Brazil to Venezuela.Funding collapsed and the road was abandoned in the 1970s, literally stopping dead in the deep jungle, more than 700 miles (1,100 km) from its intended goal.Calibi Waiapi, another tribal villager, suspects that the government hopes one day to resurrect that dream of a thoroughfare through the wilderness.Jawaruwa Waiapi, 31, says that fighting or even fleeing into the forest will no longer work.Last year he was elected to the municipal council in Pedra Branca, the first member of his tribe to hold a Brazilian political post.
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