Two Indians from Brazil and about 20 activists of the German NGO Robin Wood have been blocking the entrance to the factory of the multinational Procter & Gamble company since the morning of Thursday, May 4, in the city of Neuss, Germany.
The firm buys cellulose from Aracruz, a company that uses territory the belongs to the Tupinikim and Guarani indigenous peoples in Brazil, and produces with the raw material the Time paper handkerchiefs, a very well known brand in Europe.
"Our noses are full," says a banner placed at the entrance to the Procter & Gamble factory. The expression, in German, means "we are fed up, pissed off."
At 11:00 a.m., Paulo Henrique Vicente de Oliveira, a Tupinikim indigenous person from the Caieira Velha village, and Wera Kwaray, a Guarani indigenous person from the Boa Esperança village and 20 activists blocked three roads leading to the factory.
The trucks of the company are waiting in a parking lot on the other side of the street. Four police cars are there too.
"People in Germany should know that we, the Tupinikim and Guarani, were brutally expelled from our land because of the raw material that is used to manufacture the Time handkerchief," says the Tupinikim Paulo Henrique Vicente de Oliveira, coordinator of the second larger indigenous organization in Brazil, Apoinme.
"Procter & Gamble is also responsible for the fact that the Aracruz company stole our lands, destroyed our forests, and poisoned our rivers with chemical products," says Wera Kwaray, chief of the Boa Esperança Guarani village. "The Aracruz company causes a negative impact on our culture."
The demonstration was organized by the NGO Robin Wood, an environmentalist organization which is worried with the situation in the state of Espírito Santo, where the Tupinikim and Guarani were expelled from their lands by the Aracruz company, which through political pressures and relying on an unconstitutional agreement led Brazilian government officials to homologate their indigenous land with the smallest size proposed in anthropological studies carried out with a view to demarcating the land.
The two indigenous people are in Germany to press the factory to force Aracruz Cellulose to return 11,009 hectares of indigenous land it has occupied in the state of Espírito Santo.
They will deliver a statement to Procter & Gamble in which they demand that all contracts with Aracruz be cancelled for as long as the company does not settle its land conflicts with indigenous people, landless rural workers, and descendants of runaway slaves.
Inquires carried out by Robin Wood show that the cellulose planted by Aracruz is used to manufacture Time paper handkerchiefs and Charmin and Bess toilet paper produced by Procter & Gamble (P&G).
Aracruz Cellulose, the main producer of bleached cellulose in the world, deforested sections of the Atlantic Forest in Brazil to plant eucalyptus.
According to the company itself, it has 247,000 hectares of eucalyptus plantations. During the Brazilian military dictatorship, the company expelled native communities from their lands to develop the plantations.
To this day, Aracruz refuses to return 11,000 hectares it invaded in the state of Espírito Santo to the Tupinikim and Guarani resorting to violence and legal stratagems. Funai has already declared that the indigenous people are the legitimate owners of these lands.
In January of this year, the conflict escalated. Armed troops entered the Córrego de Ouro and Olho de ígua villages supported by Aracruz, and shot indigenous people using rubber bullets and chased others who were trying to flee with their belongings. During the police attack, Paulo Tupinikim broke his arm.
The fight for the Tupinikim and Guarani land is not the only one faced by Aracruz. Last week, 200 landless families occupied 8,700 hectares of Aracruz Cellulose next to the industrial complex of the company in Espírito Santo.
They accuse the company of having occupied vacant lands illegally. Communities of descendants of runaway slaves are also demanding that the Aracruz company returns to them dozens of thousands of hectares which they say were stolen from them.
Cimi – Indianist Missionary Council – www.cimi.org.br