Armed police in Rio Grande do Sul invade offices, attack women organizers and confiscate computers, organizing materials and other items.
** SOLIDARITY LETTER INCLUDED **
The MST's (Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement) National Coordinating Body is asking for your urgent support and solidarity.
Women leaders in rural Brazil, whose only crime was to organize themselves in defense of life, biodiversity, and food sovereignty for the Brazilian people, have come under deliberate attack by the State Police of Rio Grande do Sul. [see 'BACKGROUND' at bottom of page]
Please take a moment to personalize the following letter pasted below and send it by email to the Embassy of Brazil in Washington, DC. You are also encourage you to prepare your own email letter to the Embassy with your concerns.
An absurd situation is occurring in Rio Grande do Sul in which the state, instead of defending the interests of society, places all its institutions, especially the public security forces, at the service of big capital. This is an attempt to transform a social question into a common crime.
The arbitrary actions of Police Chief Rudimar de Freitas of CamaquÃ£, accompanied by six policemen, in the house belonging to the Association of Rural Women Workers in Passo Fundo, shows that the goal of the police investigations is not to clarify the facts but rather to incriminate the leaders and in this way deny the legitimacy of the collective struggle carried out by more than two thousand women against the "green desert".
The police arrived around 2:00 p.m. on March 22 with firearms in hand, broke down the door, invaded the Association space, and took seven women and a child who were there and forced them into the kitchen. Being questioned very forcefully, the women did not understand what was happening since the police had not identified themselves and had not shown any search warrant. Only later did they show a search warrant signed by Judge DR. SEBASTIÃƒO FRANCISCO DA ROSA MARINHO.
The police acted in such an arbitrary fashion that the women only had permission to contact a lawyer one hour and 20 minutes after the invasion. The police did not limit their search to the association office but instead went through the whole house (kitchen, service area, bedrooms, the women's bags), throwing everything on the ground. They took the CPUs of the computers, CDs, diskettes, bus tickets, money, checkbooks, all the documents of the Association, folders with the projects and accounts, notebooks, notes, and symbols of the Association. The police did not make a report about what they appropriated.
In addition, the police invaded, without any legal warrant, the headquarters of the National Association of Rural Women, which operates on the lower floor of the State Association with an entry on another street. In the national headquarters the police humiliated a staff person and a woman who was there, burglarized the desk drawers, and took money, bus tickets, CPUs, diskettes and CDs. And this material was taken by the police without any judicial order.
The police chief demanded that all the women present themselves to testify that same afternoon, requiring them to sign the summons and forcing them to testify without the presence of a lawyer. Only when the lawyer arrived were the women allowed to go to the bathroom and began to be treated as human beings. The attitude of the police chief and the policemen disrespected not only the human rights and also revealed the machismo of the institution because only with a masculine presence representing them were the women finally respected.
We reaffirm the struggle for human rights, especially for women workers who are being attacked for defending life, biodiversity, and the food sovereignty of the Brazilian people. We ask that you contact the appropriate authorities in Brazil, with specific attention to the state of Rio Grande do Sul, and insist upon the respect for and protection of human rights as stipulated by Brazil's Federal Constitution and International Human Rights Law.
The land occupation conducted by the women of La Via Campesina on International Women's Day, March the 8th, had as a goal to denounce to the world the environmental and social crimes of corporations such as Aracruz that promote the "green desert" (monocultrual production of Eucalyptus).
These women acted in defense of life, of rural development based on small farming, of agrarian reform, of preservation of biodiversity and toward the building of food sovereignty. The women's action opened up a more critical debate about agribusiness in Brazilian society and in the world.
Why do the corporations and the media sell an image that big businesses create a lot of jobs? Aracruz Cellulose creates ONE job for each 185 HECTARES that are planted in Eucalyptus, while small farms create at least ONE job PER HECTARE.
Strangely, instead of concerning themselves with investigating the corporations, which (with financial support from governments) are causing environmental destruction, unemployment, and exodus from rural areas, among other crimes, the state of Rio Grande do Sul rushes to find a guilty party for the action against the "green desert".
About the MST: Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, or in Portuguese Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST), is the largest social movement in Latin America with an estimated 1.5 million landless members organized in 23 out 27 states. The MST carries out long-overdue land reform in a country mired by unjust land distribution. In Brazil, less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of the land on which crops could be grown.
Saturday April 15, 2006, 11:09 am
Thanks for sharing the info. This goes to show how powerful MST is though, they are scaring the government. I know when representatives from mst came to my town it drew a lot of interest and support.
There are many interesting thoughts coming from this share.
1 That this corporation is planting a forest of Eucalyptus trees, creating a major oxygen producing forest,... seems like a wonderful thing.
I have been here at Care2 asking anyone anywhere to help plant forests any where, for any reason and as far as I know,... not one individual has organized any substantual forest planting effort.
So, even though the forest of Eucalyptus is being planted for commercial purposes,... at least something is being planted somewhere.
2 That this group of Brazil women and others did not fund raise and buy up the land and plant some other type of forest is beyond me. Why they are fighting the planting of forests or trees (depending on view point) and being adverse to action being taken by others .... instead...
instead of using their time and efforts to obtain land and planting something somewhere else not taken by large corporations,... indicates that they are a little confused about what would make the world a better place for us to raise our children.
Are they just about complaining?
Do they just want to be trouble makers?
Or are they sincerely interested in making the world a better place?
If they are interested in making the world a better place,... would they be planting their own forests,.... and even potentially creating forests that produce long term income potential so that as the forest grows,... more and more resources become available,... and they can keep expanding those forests as they manage to gain control of more and more land?
3 What would they rather have this giant corporation invest their money in?
If they do not like what the corporation is investing in,... A forest of Eucalyptus,... then what?
If these 'protesters' were to organize their people,... create a plan,... a plan that shows how these investors can get a return on their invested money,... by doing a different project.... the corporation would likely provide the funding and the protesters could do what ever project they have created the plan for.
Imagine for just a moment that you have $5 million dollars and would like to do something 'worth while' with it. What would you invest it in?
Would you just throw it away,... buy nice things for your friends till you run out of money? That would not be very smart,... but I would bet that this group of protesters did just that with their last $5 million dollars.
I would guess that these protesters could gather together $5 million dollars and actually do what they think this corporation should have done. Of course, if they were to raise $5 million dollars,... then each person in the group would have to donate some,.... in order to get the money together to do a group action,... but the money is there!
If these protesters were to fund raise,... and to accumulate the $5 million,... would they start a corporation,.... and then use the corporation to buy land,... and use the corporation to plant trees?????!!!!!!?????? Would they plant trees that would produce income? Would they use that income to increase the holdings and growth of the corporation?
Is it remotely possible that the same people that are protesting this Eucalyptus forest,.... would do just about the same thing if they organized and gathered collective funds.
Is it romotely possible that the same people that are protesting this Eucalyptus forest,... have supported this Eucalyptus forest by doing business with the present corporation. That they bought products from this corporation or bought products from others that bought products from this corporation,... and helped the corporation have the money to buy up the land and to plant the Eucalyptus forest?
I noticed that the protest group is labeled 'Landless', and I would wonder why people that do not have land would not support each other and as a group effort get some land?
I mean,... if they do not care,... why be a bother to others that do organize and buy land,... and plant forests,... even if it is a monoculture,... it is green things being planted and growing,... which is good for most living things on the Earth.
So I am finding it difficult to consider backing such a protest?
Thursday April 27, 2006, 5:41 am
Hi Bill, hi eveybody,
Bellow there's an article I think will answer to some of your questions.
'Sustainable' green deserts
Posted on April 9, 2005 - 5:39pm :: ISD-World Affairs | Nature
April 05, 2005 | Corporate Watch News, UK
TF! Editorial Comment: Planting trees is a good thing, right? In Brazil, monoculture tree plantations are creating a range of problems both for local communities and the environment. In the article below, indigenous peoples are referring to the plantations as 'green deserts' because of their lack of diversity and ecological complexity, yet the companies responsible are promoting themselves as socially responsible.
Vast eucalyptus monocultures are taking over giant swathes of the Brazilian landscape, feeding the pulp/paper and iron industries. Now 'forestry' corporations are claiming carbon credits for these green deserts, giving Western companies a license to burn more fossil fuels, at the expense of the indigenous people with a rightful claim to the land.
Corporate Watcher Claire Fauset met up with activists fighting the plantations while on a trip to paper giant Aracruz's Guaíba mill in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.
Approaching the Aracruz pulping mill in Guaíba we passed a huge lot filled with rows of eucalyptus logs stretching as far as the eye could see, each log uniform in length, width and and colour. It wasn't hard to see why indigenous people in Brazil are calling the plantations these logs come from 'green deserts', or why the Mapuche in Chile refer to pine plantations as 'planted soldiers', the sheer lack of diversity was breathtaking and you could picture thousands of hectares of these trees advancing on communities as the corporations seek to expand their plantations.
The mill, where the logs are converted into 400,000 tons of pulp and paper, primarily for export to the European and US markets, dominates the town. Before the arrival of the mill, Gua íba's economy relied on fishing and tourism, with people travelling from nearby Porto Alegre to swim in the river. Not so now. On arriving we wandered around the neighborhood chatting to residents about the impact the plant is having locally. We heard many reports of water contamination and dead fish in the river. The plant was closed for its maintenance period but residents complained that when the factory is working the area is plagued by constant noise and a strong stench. People were suffering from breathing problems and allergies, and reported that the area was usually covered in a layer of white sticky dust that they couldn't identify. The people were afraid of making any complaints about the factory because of the size of the company, and for fear of job losses. They also said that attempts to test the toxicity of the water and the dust were frustrated because of the connections of this huge company.
Yet for some Aracruz is a leading light for 'sustainable development'. Aracruz is the world's largest producer of bleached eucalyptus 'kraft market pulp' and operates the world's largest pulp mill. The company's plantations in Rio Grande do Sul are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and the company won an award for social responsibility from the Brazilian Ministry of Technology, Industry and Commerce. Aracruz is signed up to the UN's Global Compact and has had loans approved by World Bank's International Finance Corporation on the basis of its environmental record, and this is simply more evidence of international bureaucracy's blindness to the local impact of large scale plantations and its deafness to the voices of community activists.
A further cause for concern is the research these companies are putting into genetically modified trees. Many companies including Monsanto have pulled out of this research seeing it as not economically attractive, but the prospect of subsidy through carbon credits is likely to reawaken interest in GM trees. However bleak prospects may look, the fight is on, and international movements opposing monocultures are increasing in strength.
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