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Brazil: We Will Not Tolerate the Plunder of the Amazon

I’ve been in the Amazon almost a week now and from the moment I arrived I stepped into a very polarized battle over the future of the Amazon. My first indication of the tension was a bumper sticker on a truck outside the airport with the words ‘Fora Greenpeace’, meaning ‘Greenpeace Out’.

Many more of these stickers were on trucks around the town of Santarém. It turns out that by showing this sticker on your car or truck, you receive a discount on petrol at a local gas station.

An editorial in the local newspaper Jornal de Santarém was also quite damning of Greenpeace, attempting to link us to everything from hunger to abortion, but of course failed to discuss the real issue, the ongoing and rampant deforestation and unsustainable development in the Amazon.

Our first protest involved simply parachuting an activist into a soy field with a message written on the parachute, and even this was enough to bring out a small group of angry farmers – the parachutist had a narrow escape.

Our next attempt to protest at the forest destruction over the weekend was to have 80 people in a deforested area to make a human banner, arranging the people’s bodies to spell out the protest message. This activity was cancelled due to the strong possibility of violence from the farmers.

Undeterred by the violence directed towards us, a team of activists on boats projected a video on soy and deforestation in front of the town of Santarém on Saturday night.

Many of the local Gauchos are actually farmers from the south of Brazil who have recently moved to Santarém in pursuit of land grabbing and profits from deforestation and farming.  Their reaction was swift.

Within a few minutes a mob assembled and began firing fireworks at our volunteers. They assaulted one of our photographers, and the photographer of a local newspaper as well. This time it seems the local hooligans (who are a small minority) went too far, and the mood in Santarém has swung against them.

The subsequent editorial in the Gazeta de Santarém is quite different from earlier criticisms. It deplores the use of violence by the farmers, questions why the Gauchos are being violent towards Greenpeace, and wonders if the Gauchos will next turn on the people of Santarém with their tactics of fear and intimidation.

The Gazeta de Santarém has front-page headlines and photos of the soy producers attacking the photographer, and a quote from one soy producer saying that Santarém is only full of Indians and lazy people. Now the bumper stickers on trucks seem to be fewer and fewer. The tide may well be turning against the soy producers.

We’re keeping up the pressure on the big soy producers like Cargill over the next few days, including unfurling a protest banner in a deforested area today with the words ‘Kentucky Fried Chicken – Amazon Criminal’.

KFC is the next target in our corporate campaign after our first target McDonald’s has recently shown a willingness to end their association with Amazon destruction.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on McDonald’s but now it is their competitor KFC who will be put in the spotlight. One by one, we want to show these corporations just how much consumers are going to resist their plunder of the Amazon.

We have more activities planned in the Amazon, and we’re sure those with an economic interest in forest destruction will continue with their violent tactics.

For now however, it seems that peace is beginning to win over violence in Santarém, and it looks like there is a real chance that the Amazon may remain mostly green, if our supporters keep up the pressure.

Gavin Edwards is Greenpeace’s international forest campaigner.

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  • Show Comments (7)

  • Guest

    I feel sorry for you, Gavin. The amazing thing is that You People take yourself and your efforts so seriously. Up anchor and get out of there before you Don Quiote yourself into some real trouble. Beep twice as you pass Mosqueiro.

  • Guest

    Why dont Greenpeace….
    go to the USA and the pollution they are producing ????
    the USA refuse to sign any agreement because it would be against their economic interests. And they state this officially.
    By having less pollution there, more of the Amazon could be deforested without being harmful !!!!!

    NOT that stupid….afterall !!!!!

  • Guest

    I love seeing this
    As we know, fast food restaurants are up to no good with people’s diets. To show they are involved in the destruction of the Amazon, the lungs of the world, is even more damning. As for Greenpeace needing to go back to the USA and that the USA wrecked its forests so let Brazil wreck its own, well, we live in a global world now and if the USA had the Amazon it would face the same pressure Brazil is facing now. And I don’ t see Greenpeace as from the USA, but as an international organization. I am extremely impressed with what they are doing now! With the results of greenhouse effect ever more obvious, the importance of the Amazon becomes more and more urgent. Bravo, Greenpeace!

  • Guest

    Re: Deus proteja o nosso Brasil!
    Amem, irmao!

  • Guest

    Not about who/when/how…
    The environment was/is destroyed… But rather, preserving our heritage and well being.

    On this one, Greenpeace has my blessing… Deus proteja o nosso Brasil!

    keol

  • Guest

    GREENPEACE
    Brazil has the right to do what it wants with it’s own country. Europe and the U.S.A have already destroyed their own land’s forests and indigenous peoples as well as raping most of the rest of the world of it’s scarce resources and people (slavery and war) in pursuit of industrialisation and power and now wants to prohibit other countries from catching up or becomming ‘equal’… GREENPEACE, go hassle your own governments to give money..lots of it… to the countries of the third world, if you want Brazil to keep the rain forest ‘natural’ and undeveloped..PAY FOR IT! Why should Brazil suffer in order to keep the western world in power.. who are you to tell another country how to develop when the U.S and Europe has to date done such a ‘piss-poor’ job with it’s own countries while abusing others. Solve your own countries problems, create your own paradise, don’t steal control of Brazil’s. If Greenpeace ruled the world humankind would become extinct (hopefully starting with Greenpeace!). Brazil is doing very well in preserving it’s people and land without the meddling of Greenpeace (who have the arrogance of putting themselves alongside God), be do-gooders elsewhere, Brazil does not need or want you! The whole universe will end quite naturally when the sun eventually burns up, explodes and becomes a black hole… nothing is forever! Or, does Greenpeace actually think that the world will last forever because of what they preach?

  • Guest

    For that matter you have my support. Thank you!

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