Exploration Mysteries: Hoer Verde

Some consider it a modern Roanoke. Others say that it is a complete hoax. This odd and obscure tale concerns a Brazilian village called Hoer Verde whose 600 residents supposedly vanished overnight.

You would think that a mass disappearance would warrant intense scrutiny. Wrong. Information is scarce, and most local Brazilians have never heard of it. Yet somehow, the story has found a cult following in the far corners of the internet. Where did this tale come from?

Several websites and fringe articles relate the story as follows. On the morning of February 5, 1923, residents of a village in the Brazilian rainforest traveled to a neighboring settlement called Hoer Verde to investigate why the residents had never shown up for a planned day of trade.

The visitors found Hoer Verde completely abandoned. The buildings were intact, personal effects remained in houses, and there were no signs of a struggle. Searchers did find a single gun and a cryptic message written on a classroom blackboard saying, “There is no salvation.” These are the only details we have to go on.

A real place?

We aren’t even sure whether Hoer Verde was a real place. Although parts of the Amazon rainforest remain a labyrinth of which little is known, Brazilians who have heard of Hoer Verde say that its fate — its very existence — is mere folklore.

Village in Brazil’s Amazon. Photo: Brastock/Shutterstock


First, the name Hoer Verde itself is not completely Portuguese. The word Hoer is a rather crude term in Dutch meaning ‘whore’. While the Dutch did colonize northeastern Brazil for a short time in the 1600s, this kind of name makes no sense. Verde is Portuguese for ‘green’. Why would a village be called ‘Green Whore’? This linguistic anomaly is an immediate red flag that has made many skeptical of its existence.

Furthermore, there is no official documentation of the village in census records. Brazilian archives or media reports do not mention the people’s disappearance. Interestingly enough, talk of the alleged incident supposedly began with an article in the Russian newspaper Pravda. Formerly the official organ of the Communist Party, the publication still exists. Typically, it painted foreign or western news in an unfavorable light.

A supposed photo of the village. Photo: YouTube/unconfirmed original source


Unsurprisingly, many place names in Brazil include Verde, including Ouro Verde, Rio Verde, Cabo Verde, Costa Verde, and Vila Verde. It is possible someone mistook one of these names.

The devil in the details

Some of the story’s details are peculiar. It is unclear if the phrase, “There is no salvation” was written in Portuguese, English, or even Latin. The phrase is reminiscent of the Catholic saying that “there is no salvation outside the Church.” Was there a religion class in progress before tragedy struck? Second, what was with the peculiar detail of a single gun left behind? One gun is not enough to wipe out a whole village. The story included no blood, bodies, or destruction of property.

Possible historical backing

During the early 1920s, Brazil went through tough times. There was general political dissatisfaction and resentment. Coffee oligarchs received preferential treatment. A 1922 election that sought to vote out the government ended in fraud. The following eight years saw civil unrest and revolts. There was a major revolution in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in January 1923, which ended in December of the same year.

However, there is no record of any assaults on outlying villages or guerrilla warfare in the forest at this time.

The takeaway

If there ever was such a village, the only logical explanation for its disappearance would be an impromptu evacuation. If a conflict approached, the villagers could have fled for their lives, taking nothing with them. However, this does not explain why Hoer Verde’s residents would not have eventually spoken out about their departure or why other villages were unaffected. Granted, the Amazon is remote and isolated, but even here, the word should leak out somehow.

The best explanation is that this story is a hoax. If no record exists of such a village in Brazil, if locals themselves never heard either of it or the incident, and if the only source of the story is an often-unreliable publication from across the world, it is likely that the whole legend is merely a foreign fabrication.

However, it could also be that similar incidents actually occurred elsewhere, and the reporting became garbled, mistranslated, or twisted into an intriguing tale that serves as a great hook for the conspiracy-minded.

Kristine De Abreu

Kristine De Abreu is a writer at ExplorersWeb.

Kristine has been writing about Science, Mysteries and History for 4+ years. Prior to that, Kristine studied at the University of Leicester in the UK.

Based in Port-of-Spain, Kristine is also a literature teacher, avid reader, hiker, occasional photographer, an animal lover and shameless ramen addict.