The new Rainbow Warrior is in action to defend the Amazon and its people. Something Brazil’s President Dilma could have done yesterday by completely vetoing changes to the new Forest Code. From the bridge, I can see and feel events unfold at lightening speed.
Before dawn this morning our boats were in the water, delivering two teams of climbers to Port Itaqui, here in Northern Brazil where thousands of tonnes of pig iron, implicated in human rights and environmental abuse, are loaded onto ships.
One of these teams is currently occupying a giant pile of pig iron on the dock, while another has climbed two loading cranes to stop them from operating. They scrambled up the 8-meter wall of the port before hurrying towards the cranes and onto the pile itself.
They are now deploying banners with messages such as “Amazon Crime” and “Dilma’s dirty secret”.
Meanwhile I am on the Rainbow Warrior itself, which has moved into position to block the Clipper Hope cargo ship from leaving. We’re not going anywhere.
We expected a political solution this week, but once again the outcomes fell short. Yesterday President Dilma failed to completely veto changes to the country’s forest code, which could lead to a huge upsurge in deforestation here.
She has ignored the millions of Brazilians who want to keep the code intact, and so far has failed to acknowledge the 280,000 who support our call for zero deforestation.
In the wake of Dilma’s failure we are taking action and demanding action from the Brazilian government. We are demanding that she redeems herself by supporting the 80% of Brazilians that were opposed to the changes in the Forest Code and the 280,000 so far, that are calling for a Zero Deforestation Law.
Destruction of the Amazon and abuse of the rights of its people come in many guises. The pig iron industry is driving destruction in the Amazon. It is used to make steel, but requires huge amounts of wood charcoal to be produced.
This is often sourced from rainforest trees and is eating into the indigenous lands that belong to remote tribes like the Awa. To make matters worse, the ‘charcoal camps’ involved often rely on modern day slave labor. It’s a dirty trade all round.
As I write, there are police outside, attempting to arrest our climbers and clearly deciding whether to board the Rainbow Warrior and arrest us too.
Our action is justified, urgent and peaceful. We will remain here to stop this shipment from leaving until we are no longer able to do so. Please join in us in calling for Zero Deforestation.
James Turner, formerly of the BBC, ITV and Greenpeace UK, is a Media Officer at Greenpeace US based in San Francisco.