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Our Attacks Against Cargill’s Soy Empire in Brazil Were Greeted with Fireworks

On Saturday we finally made it into Santarém port, in the North of Brazil, having persuaded the Brazilian authorities that they had no legal grounds on which they could legitimately keep Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise boat out.

Despite rumors that the soy farmers were planning a march, the atmosphere in the port was quiet – except, that is, for the loading of a cargo ship, ironically preparing to transport Amazonian timber to France. It seemed criminal to stand by and watch it load but on this occasion it was not our remit to intervene.

Instead, a small crew set out after dusk in two of the Arctic Sunrise’s inflatables that had been lashed together with rope and a ladder. Balanced precariously in the middle were a laptop and a massive projector. The team maneuvered into position in front of Santarém’s main promenade, filled with Saturday night revellers, and switched on the projector.

As if from nowhere, the projection – a two minute video loop showing how agriculture giant Cargill is playing a leading role in forest destruction – appeared on a large canvas that we’d hired for the occasion.

Santarém is home to Cargill’s illegally-built grain terminal through which large quantities of soy pass on their way to the global markets so we expected to ruffle some feathers.

The reaction was instantaneous. Many watched the film with interest but soy farmers in the crowd shouted angrily and set about trying to identify where the images were coming from. It didn’t take long and, armed with fireworks, they started firing at the inflatables but the team maintained their position long enough for the video to play four times, dodging the incoming flares at the same time.

When one ring leader was spotted charging into the water, they took the decision to return to the ship. Even so, the team received a couple of bruises for their troubles and one German photographer was punched.

Meanwhile on the promenade, a local camera man was seen being beaten and kicked to the ground by the farmers. No police appeared, despite the local station being just around the corner so no points for guessing whose side they are on.

On Sunday night we attempted to repeat the projection, this time on the side of Cargill’s illegal port facility. However, the roof was too steep but two employees within the complex watched nervously, repeatedly making calls on their mobile phones.

Just as the team were wrapping up, 10 soy farmers stormed into the port complex with their trucks, shouting and swearing, headlights glaring across the water at the ship. Again we saw the box of fireworks but this time they chose not to use them and with everyone safely below deck, the farmers eventually gave up and went home.

Perhaps what I’ve found most surprising in the last couple of days is how organized these thugs are, how fast they can respond and how unashamed Cargill seem to be about using their power to facilitate their own criminal practices.

Today we heard that the farmers have been shopping, buying up every bull whip in town. Personally I think I prefer the fireworks.

Belinda Fletcher works for Greenpeace. She is Greenpeace UK forests campaigner.


  • Show Comments (7)

  • Zak

    Dear Greenpeace lovers,
    You won’t stop deforestation in the Amazon by playing a movie showing them what they did, THEY KNOW WHAT THEY DID! 😛

    If you want something done, don’t play movies, do something productive.

  • Guest

    GMO Pundit
    Just WHO promoted a massive switch from US soy to Brazilian Soy imports into Europe 6 years back.Yes Greenpeace, by demonising US GM soybeans


    “In the past decade, Brazil had almost doubled its cropping production, from about 70 million tonnes in 1994-95 to almost 120mt last year.
    Importantly from an environmental perspective, this had been done by using virtually the same land area, Dr Fave Neves said.”

    What has made this possible, saving much farmland for forest?.

    Technological innovation.

    What are Greenpeace famous for?
    Opposition to technology.

    Go Figure.

    If you want to preserve rainforest, promote agricultural innovation, including GM, promote US soy exports, and never ever give Greenpeace any suport.

    By the way they spread misinformation about vitamin A enriched rice. This rice could save 2000 lives a day, but Greeanpece dont care about this.

    If you are not rich, and farm the land anywhere but Europe, give Greenpeace the BOOT.

  • Guest

    Greenpeace calls farmers “thugs?” I am a farmer, and I will remember that a long, long time.

  • Guest

    for those unable and unqualified to find a decent job, they can just choose to become a well paid employee at Greenpiss ! It became a full time job for the uncompetent people !

    It is not an organization that publishes an audited annual report with the sources of income and spendings !
    This orgqanization will do and say whatever their financial backers request ! The more they are paid, the more they will make noise ! Secret and unwritten deals is the norm !

  • Guest

    …is a corrupted Organization.
    They will simply say and do every thing that their unknown and mysterious backers will ask and pay for !

  • Guest

    And on top….
    …it is not Cargill, Bunge or ADM who do the Amazon deforestation, but brazilians individuals.

    Even Lula, 2 years ago, said that Brazil will become the Nbr 1 world soya producer and Nbr 1 exporter !!!

    If you have a problem with the Brazilians government on their policies and with illegal loggers or with large landowners using slaves, please SIMPLY name them ! But Cargill is not responbible. If Cargill and/or other foreign companies had not built all these terminals, warehouses, either Brazil would had exported far less, or Brazilian companies would have done it anyway !

    The EU is against the GM soya, but we are obliged by the WTO, the USA, Brazil and Argentina to use what we dont want in our food ! It is like if Asian countries would oblige the Brazilian population to eat daily meat monkeys and snakes, or worse, thr USA and Brazil oblige jews and muslims to eat daily meat hogs ! But on these subjects, GREENPISS says nothing !

  • Guest

    1) Cargill did not build their grain terminal illegally.

    2) You point your fingers on Cargill, but it was the Brazilian soya farmers who were not happy with your presence and used fireworks !

    3) Greenstink always points their fingers on foreign companies, but never on Brazilian companies, competitors of Cargill !!!

    Stupid question : by whom are you mysteriously financed to launch these types of attacks ?
    By the Brazilian government, or by Brazilian companies, themselves competitors to foreign companies ??????

    At least you are full of contradictions and you hide the truth ! Furthermore you lie repeatedly.

    You are just GREENPISS !

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