General Jairo César Nass, who is in charge of the military operation in the state of Pará, in northern Brazil’s Amazon region, informed that 2 thousand soldiers have already been sent to the region of Anapu.
It was in the Anapu area that Dororthy Stang, an American-born nun who was a naturalized Brazilian, and two rural workers were murdered last week, all of them in the area known as the Esperança (“Hope”) Sustainable Development Project.
The investigations into the murders are making headway. Four arrest warrants have been issued, and, according to the Civil and Federal police, the Army’s helicopters should help in the search for the escaped suspects in hard-to-reach regions in the vicinity of Anapu.
The general pointed out that, in the entire region, he has under his command “four thousand men ready to go into action.”
The recent murders in the state of Pará will serve to stimulate and even accelerate the process of creating extractive reserves and protected areas in the so-called Midland (“Terra do Meio”), located between the Xingu and Tapajós Rivers.
This declaration was made, February 16, by Maurício Mercadante, the Ministry of Environment’s director of Protected Areas. According to Mercadante, three more extractive reserves should be established by midyear, a well as a conservation and total protection unit, complete with an ecological station and park.
“Among the new reserves, one is planned for the region of Anapu, the city where Sister Dorothy Stang lived.[She was murdered last Saturday, February 12, by hired gunmen] The reserve will contain 80 thousand hectares and will be named Bacajá,” Mercadante revealed. According to him, the nun supported and defended the creation of this reserve.
With the addition of the new units, the total area covered by extractive reserves in Pará should attain 4 million hectares. In 2004 the Ministry of Environment legalized the first two reserves in the Midland region: Evergreen, which contains1.3 million hectares, and Anfrísio’s Little River (“Riozinho do Anfrísio”), which contains 700 thousand.
“The reserves, besides protecting traditional communities, prevent the removal of timber and inordinant occupation of the forest,” Mercadante observed. “For this reason, it is natural for the creation of reserves to cause dissatisfaction among some sectors.”
According to Mercadante, the law permits only small-scale exploitation of natural resources, such as wood, Brazil nuts, rubber, and fruit, in the reserves. The riparian population is also allowed to develop agriculture activities, so long as they are for their own subsistence.
Translation: David Silberstein