How agribusiness and the financial markets profit from the devastation of the world’s largest tropical forest
Text and photos: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
With his feet upon the ashes where once the forest existed, the Pajé (Shaman) Isaka Huni Kuin expresses his profound sadness. “They do not know the medicine that exists inside the forest. They think it is useless, that it is only woods, but it is extremely valuable. From there, we get our hardwoods from which we construct our homes. When one of our children is sick, I know how to treat them, I know which medicine I have to look for. It is our pharmacy that is alive. If they finish off the forest, the wealth of knowledge that I have ceases with it; all of this fire makes me so very sad.”
Pajé Isaka lost his live pharmacy. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
On August 22 in a few hours, the flames blazed and burned the five hectares of forest, which corresponds to 50% of the total area of the Cultural Center of the Huwã Karu Yuxibu. Since October 2018, the Cacique Mapu family, Isaka’s son, has made this territory home for relatives that have come to the city to study and also a space to propagate the medicine of the Huni Kuin People, located 50kms from the center of Rio Branco city, capital of Acre State.
The Pajé Isaka, 80 years old, was eating lunch with his family when his wife heard the crack of the leaves burning. They started running with their machetes to try to impede the fire´s onrush upon the forest, but they were unsuccessful. With the arrival of the firefighters, they were able to save their homes. The orchards of papaya, banana, açai and other plants were consumed by the fire. The armadillos, turtles and monkeys were also affected.
They burnt the forest that was once the Huni Kuin’s pharmacy. Arson is suspected, an act that put at risk the life of Pajé Isaka and his family. For Isaka, it was an act of malice. About 250 kms from there, now in Amazonas State, in the Boca de Acre municipality, the Apurinã People´s forest also burned. On August 13, the Day of the Fire, 600 hectares of the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory were razed. In the Apurinãs´ territory, the fire is more than just malice, it is one of the many steps in a well-articulated process of land grabbing of federal lands. The Cacique Antonio Jose condemns this scheme that, in the Legal Amazonia, not only affects their territory but also impacts diverse indigenous Peoples and federal lands overall. Through a cycle of destruction and profit, the invaders deforest, sell the precious woods, set the rest of the forest on fire, fence it off, begin to raise cattle in the enclosed area, sell the meat and then finally plant soybeans, corn or rice. And if that were not enough, the agribusiness sector that profits from the international market still even has the opportunity to continue profiting with environmental campaigns where they purport to be “saving” the Amazonia.
On the Acre roads, it is common to see tractor trailers loaded with gigantic trunks of wood. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
The Apurinã Caciques’ fight against land grabbing and in favour of the demarcation of their territories
There were 45,256 fires detected by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE) in the Amazonia from January to August 2019. 20% of the fires took place in public forests that still have not been designated as having a specific category: national parks, reserves or indigenous territories, among them, Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory. On August 13, the Day of the Fire, as denounced by Cacique Antonio Jose, a group of land grabbers burned 600 hectares that have been claimed by the Apurinãs.
Cacique Antonio Jose opens the gate which offers access to the Val Paraiso Indigneous Territory. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
After we have passed through the fifth gate, we are finally near the entrance to the forest of the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory, on the banks of the Retiro Stream. The Cacique Kaxuqui gets off his motorcycle; he is Antonio Jose’s cousin and partner in the fight to regain their lands.
Antonio invites us to get out of the car because they would like to talk. On the one side of the fence is us and on the other innumerable heads of cattle, which cover the five lots that we have just crossed through. The Caciques explain to us what they see here. “They devastated our land, things that we have been preserving for the last 100 years, where our grandfather, our
great-grandfather and uncles were born,” decries Kaxuqui, 58 year-old.
Antonio Jose continues: I am 54 years old, and I have never left here. These people, those who claim to be the owner of this land where we are standing right now, they are not from here no, they are descendants of the Portuguese. And we who are indigenous, who have lived here forever, which we have proven, we are here without our right to the land”.
Cacique Kaxuqui and Antonio Jose denounce the land grabbing of
indigenous land (in Portuguese).
The Apurinãs have demanded the demarcation of the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory since 1991. The process is in the hands of FUNAI (National Indigenous Foundation). The Indigenous People has been waiting for years for the completion of the studies to identify and delimit the area, where 46 people, consisting of seven families, live. In the beginning of the process, the Apurinãs had lodged a claim for 57 thousand hectares. Even though the area was under judicial review, their lands were invaded, forests were felled, transformed into fields and eventually became cattle ranches. Recently, they decreased the demarcation request to only 26 thousand hectares in order to facilitate the process. “We made an agreement with the plantation owners. What are fields is theirs and what is forest is ours. However, they continue to invade and bore the forest”, declares Antonio Jose. Bore is the verb that the Apurinãs use to describe the action taken by those who raze the forest. “It is not for lack of information, we have everything documented. IBAMA (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources), the Attorney General and the Legalize Land Agency are all aware that this here was claimed by us while there was still forest, when it was still intact. Only this forest exists now, that in front of us on the banks of the stream, because we have been trying to preserve it from 1991 until the present.
For Lindomar Dias, from the Indigenous Missionary Council, these articulations of invading territories have happened for a long time. In the case of the First Nations, since forever. “Effectively, Brazil was born, as a country, plundering and robbing territory from the First Nations. And it treats these peoples as though they were not native Peoples. They treat them as though they were foreigners, when in actuality they are the owners. They have acquired their right to possession not by purchasing the land but by living there, melding with it, merging with it.” For Dercy Teles, a traditional rubber tree tapper from the Xapuri municipality, whom we also listened to while traveling in Acre, the attacks are movements of extinction of populations that depend upon the forest. “For those who do not produce for capitalism’s development, there is no interest in their existence on this land,” she sustains.
Outraged, the Caciques point in the direction of each deforested or grabbed area. Antonio Jose names each individual who is responsible. “Joaquim felled 500 hectares for 2 thousand reals, and another 500 for another 2 thousand reals and sold them to Brana. This is on the other side of the Preto Stream, within the area we have legally demanded. All of this, they know is Indigenous Territory. And now the owner is Brana, some guy from Rio Branco city. Bezinho deforested 392 hectares of the Riachão plantation, alongside the Cruzeiro plantation, on the banks of Preto Stream, which is also part of our claim. Junior do Betão has already purchased it. We have all of this registered on our map”.
Blatantly illegal cattle livestock on federal lands
On the cattle pastures, the remains of trees denounce the prior fires. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
There are many names on the tip of his tongue, each one connected to another. Some are responsible for having entered and cut the trees. Other for land grabbing, enclosing them and filing some ‘documents’. When the “ripple” arrives, as Antonio Jose refers to the buzz to invade land, others come and buy them up. And then the place cattle on the land, it is the most common business in the region. According to IBGE (Brazilian Institute for Geography and Statistics), Boca do Acre has the second largest cattle herd in Amazonas State. It comes in second to its neighbor, Labrea. Together, the two have 510 thousand heads of cattle, 38% of the Amazonas’ cattle population. That is 6.4 heads per inhabitant.
This cattle’s principal destination is the Frizam/Agropam meat processing factory in Boca do Acre. According to research by Idesam (Institute of Conservation and Sustainable Development of the Amazon) in 2013, the slaughterhouse is responsible for 31.3% of the total meat processing in Amazonas state. Boca do Acre forms part of the Deforestation Arc, the region where the agriculture frontier advances upon the Amazonia’s primary forest. There are 372 areas embargoed by IBAMA in this municipality. This occurs when the inspector shows that a rancher deforested an area without prior approval or did not respect the legal reserve required on his or her private property. With an embargoed ranch, cattle ranching is prohibited. Cattle livestock occupies 80% of the deforested areas of Legal Amazonia, according to a 2015 report by the Environmental Prosecutor’s Office of the Federal Attorney General. Almost 40% of Brazil’s 215 million heads of cattle graze in the Amazon region.
The roads from Rio Branco to Boca do Acre have been taken over by cattle ranches. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
In Boca do Acre, even though there is a significant number of embargoed properties, Frizam/Agropam’s movement has not depleted in recent years. This happens because those cattle ranches that have been legally cited arrive with false documentation. The animals are registered as originating from ranches that have not been prohibited from commercialising. According to the meat processing factory, nothing can be done to audit this fraud. It just so happens that Frizam/Agropam has as one of its principal shareholders the Amazonian cattle rancher, Jose Lopes, who owns nine embargoed ranches in Boca do Acre.
According to the journalist, Leonildo Rosas from Blog do Rosas, Jose Lopes is the biggest cattle rancher, owner of more than hundred thousand heads of cattle. The “king of cattle”, as he is known locally, has been the treasurer of electoral campaigns and public funding and has strong influence over the growth of his meat empire. Lopes worked on the campaigns for Senator Eduardo Braga (PMDB) and for the Acre governor, Omar Aziz (PSD). He also worked on the campaign for the state governor’s campaign, Amazonino Mendes (PFL), who governed the State from 1999 to 2002. During that time period, in 2000, CIAMA (Amazonas State Development Company), a publicly-owned business, which has as one of its objectives the promotion of environmental development in the State, invested more than 14 million reals in the meat processing plant, Frisam/Agropam. As a result, CIAMA became one of four shareholders in the business. And it does not stop there: in the memorandum of the Frisam/Agropa’s Annual General Meeting on 06/03/2013, to which Amazonia Real had access, it shows that the factory has four shareholders: in addition to Jose Lopes and CIAMA, the list includes Jose Lopes Junior and Alessandra Lopes. “”These last two, Jose Lopes’ children, have in their name the land with cattle, fences and gates that we passed through upon entering Apurinã People’s Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory. Jose Lopes registered a property that came from my grandfather, I was in Bom Lugar and would come all the way to here to fish in the Poção do Arroz”, remembers Antonio Jose. “It was good for fishing. In 2010, Lopes registered this area as the Porão do Arroz and became the owner. It was us who opened this up, and Kaxuqui’s grandfather lived on the riverside. Here we have been living for so many years and nobody recognizes us”. Kaxuqui adds on: “We never sold a piece of land. Quite the opposite, we want to live here, give this right to our children and our grandchildren. What we want is what is ours. All we want is that they respect our culture, our rights and our way of living. We do not want ranches, nor cattle, once we are recognized, we do not need to be a rancher”.
Cacique Antonio Jose requests the demarcation of his People’s land. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
From 2013 IBAMA data, the fines for environmental crimes issued in the name of Jose Lopes added up to more than 3 million reals, resulting from the destruction of 955.14 hectares of primary forest in the Legal Amazonia. Recently, the cattle rancher was arrested in three Federal Police operations. In May 2018, in the Ojuara operation, he was accused by the Federal Attorney General of being involved in environmental crimes, along with another 21 suspects. They are accused of invading federal land, ordering deforestation and contracting Military Police agents to protect the machinery and the deforested areas. Among the accusations, a false IBAMA proceedings from Acre in September 2017 was used to alert the ranchers regarding a national operation for the following month. During that time, the IBAMA superintendent, Carlos Gadelha, was also accused by the Federal Attorney General’s Office of having created fake companies to offer administrative and legal defenses for illegal individuals who deforest in the south of Amazonas State, against his own entity’s, IBAMA actions.
On June 25 th, , Jose Lopes was released upon bail by the judge Monica Sifuentes, from the Federal District Court, who had substituted pretrial detention for temporary measures permitting his release while awaiting trial. He was once again arrested in the Maus Caminhos operation, where he was accused of receiving 1 million reals in bribes from the Dr. Mouhamad Moustafa, who was indicted as the leader of a criminal organization that diverted resources from the Amazonas state through the Novo Caminhos Institute. In addition to these accusations, the cattle rancher has been accused of environmental crimes in illegal timber commercialisation detected during the Arquimedes operation. “This character is arrested and he still keeps every right of raising cattle and selling it, on Federal Land. And he continues to deforest and orders others to do so. And here we are preserving our land and we have no right to our land”, vents Antonio Jose.
To top it off, a large part of the beef that is processed by Frizam/Agropam is not even enjoyed by the region’s population. Factory workers reveal that every month more than 20 tractor trailers leave the factory for foreign destinations. China, Japan, the USA are a few of the countries mentioned. “Here in Amazonas State, we do not eat the bull’s beef, only the cow. The young bulls, all of the fine meat, is exported. All of this cattle that causes so much prejudice here in Amazonas State is not even for consumption by the people of Amazonas. But yes by foreigners who end up supplying the resource for this deforestation”, protests Cacique Antonio Jose.
The majority of cattle slaughtered in Boca do Acre is meat that is exported. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
Jose Lopes and his family is only one of the surnames that the Apurinãs resist against. There are various others. The dispute is unfair, in addition to the ranchers, the Apurinãs also confront the State’s omission. It may be through the denial of basic rights, such as health, energy, education – one of that factors that causes relatives to not remain in the forest. It may be due to the public agencies’ ineffectiveness in impeding and fining the land invaders. It may be because of those who wrongfully use the State to promote their discourse. Or those who use their discourse to become part of the State. This is not only the case of President Jair Bolsonaro but also the case of Francisco Sales de França, known as Mapara. He is a Boca do Acre council member who is a land grabber and has deforested the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory. He ordered the deforestation of trees in 2017 and 2018. According to Antonio Jose, 200 hectares have been deforested by Mapara. He acknowledges his action. “He is fortified by his being a council member”.
Cacique Kaxuqui in front of the homes in the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
On August 19 th , the Cacique Apurinã recorded videos of condemnation on the banks of the Preto Stream. On the other side of the water, there is the noise of the chainsaw and trees falling. Antonio Jose narrates, “You can hear the buzzing of his chainsaw, I just wanted to be able to show this to the Attorney General, to FUNAI, just to show how the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory’s forest is being destroyed”.
According to the Cacique, the largest fell of the year in the Indigenous Territory was 600 hectares and was encouraged by the Boca do Acre council member. Mapara was elected based on his campaign promise to legalise invaded lands, such as Val Paraiso. “Everybody knows that the council member does not have the legal authority to legalise federal lands,”
rebuts Antonio Jose. But we also know that discourses can mold legality. Our intention in visiting the Apurinãs, in addition to listening to the Caciques and showing solidarity, was to also register this “boring” of the 600 hectares. The following day, we would depart at sunrise. Before lying down in the recently hung hammocks, Antonio Jose grabs the folder that he carried with him. In it, sheets of recent satellite images of the area claimed by the Apurinãs. He gets closer to the kerosene lamp with the maps in his hands. Cacique Antonio Jose begins to describe the locality and how many hectares were deforested in the last year, repeating the gesture from hours before, near the fence. This time he points at the deforestation on the map. He also indicates, furiously, who is responsible for each “boring”. There are now thousands of hectares felled inside of the 26 thousand hectares demanded by the Apurinãs.
The recent exploration map of the Apurinã Indigenous land. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
INPE is the map’s source of information, elaborated with FUNAI’s assistance. On the wall of the OPIAJBAM (Organization of the Apurinã and Jamamadi Indigenous Peoples of Boca do Acre), the office where we meet Antonio Jose, maps hang on the wall showing signs from a recent course. The Apurinã and Jamamadi are studying how to use a cartography software, with the objective of being able to create the maps themselves. Cartography is a tool in the struggle for their land rights and also against deforestation.
It is important to remember that when the issue of forest fires came to light, President Bolsonaro demonstrated how his government would deal with science by firing the INPE director, Ricardo Galvão, on August 2nd. When a study was released demonstrating an increase in fires in Amazonia (68% in relation to July 2018), Bolsonaro declared that the Institute may be at the service of some NGO and that the damage must be incorrect.
Following Ricardo’s refuting Bolsonaro’s declarations, he was dismissed from his position. His removal was startling for the scientific world and for those who work on the situation of fires in Amazonia. Some days later, when asked about his dismissing Galvão, he responded, “I do not ask, I give orders”.
Illegal timber commercialisation
The next day we start out on our three hour hike. Our destination: the 600 hectares burned down on the Day of the Fire, August 13 th .
In three places in the forest, we found gallon bottles of gasoline and burnt oil used in chainsaws. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
Various time we traverse the stream, we pass through places that are now fields and those that are still within the forest. In the middle of the trail, we rest upon what remains of a trunk of cedar, recently sawed down. Antonio Jose states: “on August 19 th we passed through here to see that they had felled the 600 hectares and that over there was still intact”. According to the Cacique, the loggers enter in pristine jungle, cut it down, remove the hardwoods – such as cedar and itauba. Then the loggers cut down the rest of the forest on top of the trunks, “they do this so we cannot see what type of trees they have removed”. In the following year, they will burn with the intention of clearing the area and taking advantage of the remaining trunks. After that, they start to lay the pastures for cattle raising. “This is the model that they use to invade and grab indigenous territories that we protect. Here for example, five days ago, everything had been cut down, and even with IBAMA here in Boca do Acre, they still continue cutting down”, denounces the Cacique.
Trees that have recently been cut not but not yet removed from the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
The lumber that leaves this area is cut with chainsaws in summertime, according to Antonio Jose. In wintertime, the loggers enter on the stream in barges, load it up and embark, carrying it to the Boca do Acre port at sunset. Then, as the Cacique describes the process, the criminals have a scheme to load the timber in a container on a tractor trailer that travels to Rio Branco city during the nighttime. The cargo goes on the road as though it were whatever type of freight. In the Acre capital, this wood is referred to as “heated up”. This expression is used to describe timber that has been stamped as though it originated from the Acre forestry management system. “This is how they do the removal of the indigenous timber for exportation from the indigenous territory and federal lands. All the lumber that is removed from Amazonas is illegal”.
What remains of the trees cut down in the middle of the forest within the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
The Transacrean lumber mill is one of the principal destinations for the trunks that are managed in AC-90. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
Cacique Antonio Jose and Kaxuqui in one of the fields burnt that we went through on our trek. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
Traversing the Retiro Stream in direction of the razing. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
Following Antonio Jose’s description, we continue through the jungle, hearing in the background the chainsaw’s roaring. We walk a little further and, with great difficulty, the felling of the forest becomes a complicated barrier to cross, we finally arrived at the burned area. As in the Huni Kuin Indigenous Territory, where there once was green, now only ashes appear. Black trunks have fallen. Standing and sawed trunks are also charred.
Some small bushes resisted the fire and the thick forest vegetation that has been felled makes it difficult to see the horizon. However, if one climbs on top of a stump, viewing from one side to another, you cannot see a tree canopy still standing in the immediate area. A tract of destruction. Antonio Jose condemns this: “They paid others for the burning, and then take up their role, following up with the removal of the logs and planting grass and raising cattle. In this manner, they grab the federal lands located in the Amazonia. Here in Boca do Acre it works this way. Nobody has INCRA (National Institute of Colonization and Agricultural Reform) documentation for a settlement. Everybody grabs the land, everyone says its theirs. They get loans, register in the Rural Environmental Land Registry and become the owners”. The Caciques speak indignantly, focused on their opportunity to denounce this reality.
Cacique Antonio Jose looks over the destruction of the 600 hectares of forest. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
As much as seen on the highway for the Huni Kuin (Highway AC-90, the Transacreana) as for the Apuinã (BR-317) and for the Xapuri (also BR-317), it is poignant the extension of cattle ranches. Where once was jungle is now pastures. An immensity of grass. Some Brazil nut trees are still standing, trees protected by the law. Some of these are splendid and still alive. While others are dead, annihilated slowly but surely by the numerous fires to which they have been exposed. They are still standing, even though they are dead, and can resist for years.
Cacique Kaxuqui sitting on one of the Brazil nut trees that once offered sustenance. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
In this last 600 hectares that were razed on the Val Paraiso Indigenous Territory, none of these trees escaped. According to Antonio Jose and Kaxuqui, more than 150 specimens were destroyed. Sitting on the what remains of a trunk that has not yet been removed, Kaxuqui tells us how the Apurinãs would collect 500 cans of Brazil nut on that site. “This here was a Brazil nut tree that we would harvest our sustenance for our family. And now here she is burnt. This here will not come back to this land. The land that we once preserved, that land that we needed is now like this, destroyed by ranchers”, laments Kaxuqui.
A Brazil nut tree fossil is a sad monument to the forest that once existed here. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
On the highway, we see carcasses being eaten by the vultures, logs with diverse metered diameters on top of tractor trailers. We hear about the threats that the Caciques confront. In the meanwhile, the Brazil nut trees, charred by fire are a symbol, the most melancholic monument of the destruction that ravages these territories.
On the AC-90, the Transacrean highway, many trucks filled with logs can be found on the road. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
The Apurinãs resist, fenced in by the henchmen, ranchers and the international market’s rapacious stare. Kaxuqui has already received offers to leave the area. Upon rejecting them, a drone flew for days in and around his home in the forest. Antonio Jose has had his home burned down once, and he is not returned there since. “I am threatened, I am frowned upon for defending my land. I no longer live as I once did. In the city, I am looked upon as if I were evil for the people, bad for the world. I do not understand this”, I have lived here in the same place for 54 years, but respect is not the case. “I was born here in Bananal, I continue to live and defend the same land. Those who I consider my good friends are 50 years old or older. These
youngsters, 20-35 years old believe that I am hindering development. Because they want to be here to cut it all down, making money. This is not what we want, we want that everybody grows while also respecting the rights of all”. I have already requested from the 6th Federal Chamber of Brasilia a police escort, which has been granted. But the local police do not have a large enough officer reserve to respond to the demand. They suggested that I leave the area. “There is no way I can leave here, all of my knowledge is here”.
Antonio Jose and Kaxuqui show the maps they use to analyse the increase in the fires and land grabbing. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
What is happening to the Apurinãs is not an isolated case. On the contrary, it is a systematic attack against Indigenous Peoples and their territories throughout the Amazonia and all of Brazil. On the offensive, there are distinct protagonists. There are those who are at the forefront, the direct exploration, through land invasions, logging extraction, cattle raising and, even, mining. As has been demonstrated in the narrative above. And then there are those in the background, those who finance these crimes. For example, European countries demonstrated in defense of the Amazonia during the recent fires, but it is an entire continent that has been buying meat and timber from these deforested areas for years. JBS and Marfig, corporations with an international profile in animal protein production, the principal meat exporters from Brazil to Europe, purchase their meat from these illegal ranchers. In 2018, the Reporter Brasil wrote an article on the sale of illegal timber to Denmark. Seven of the principal retail construction stores were unaware of the origin of the Brazilian timber that they were selling.
On the AC-90, known as the Transacrean Highway, cattle graze upon ashes. Photo: Douglas Freitas / Friends of the Earth Brazil
The authors of these attacks are or have political representatives. Starting with Brazil’s president, Bolsonaro stated, during his campaign, that he would not demarcate not even 1cm of indigenous territory. The president’s brother works with the so-called ‘ruralists’ to impede, together with government representatives, the demarcations. The demarcation process, now with Bolsonaro in power, is being threatened to be transferred to the Federal Department of Agriculture, where the ‘ruralists’ rule. A similar proposal, Proposed Decree 215, is in the Congress, suggesting that the final decision should lay with the Congress regarding the consolidation of indigenous territories, a Congress where currently the largest and most powerful caucus is that of the ‘ruralists’. This caucus, called the Agrilivestock Parliamentary Front, is also a lobbying group financially supported by agribusiness associations and corporations, and has 257 members, including federal deputies and senators. On July 4th, Bolsonaro declared, in a meeting with these politicians: “This government is yours”. As another example of this attack, the Congress recently proposed the Proposed Decree 343, which would declare that FUNAI could be granted to the power to liberate up to 50% of indigenous territories to ‘ruralists’, prospectors and other sectors without prior consultation with the traditional communities who reside there.
In this list of protagonists, we must not forget Rede Globo, the largest news and television network in Brazil, that promotes for the last two years as its main advertisement during prime time and political campaigns the following: “Agribusiness is technical, it is popular, it is everything”. There has been a publicity campaign where it glorifies and presents false information about Brazilian agribusiness, claiming for example that the majority of our food comes from agribusiness. This is a lie. The majority of Brazilian food supply is provided by family agriculture. In addition to these advertisements, Rede Globo decides what is or is not at stake in a system of promiscuity with enormous agribusiness sectors, businesses and sectors that historically attack the Peoples of Brazil.
Below are a few examples of what indigenous and traditional Peoples confront in Brazil. Here, some experiences of actual physical violence against the Peoples, are just a few of the violent incidents that have occurred in only the last couple days of September:
– Reoccupation by the Guarani Mbya of Ponto do Arado (Indigenous People from Rio Grande do Sul) suffers gunfire attack, the second this year;
– FUNAI Indigenous collaborator is assassinated in Amazonas state;
– Men claiming to be police attack the Guaranis (Indigenous People) in Terra de Areia, Rio Grande do Sul;
– Mbya Guarani receive threats by armed men in the Guadjayvi Indigenous Territory in Charqueadas RS, an Indigenous Territory directly impacted by the proposed Copelmi-Guaiba Mining project.
These attacks are historical and perpetuating, and are also more complex than they appear at first glance. Read on the second part of the story “The win-win situation hidden behind the Amazonia fires: how much are preservation and ‘green’ capitalism false solutions worth?”