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.

Tags:

You May Also Like

Presidents Kirchner, Chavez and Lula

Brazil, Venezuela and Neighbors Create Development Bank

The Finance and Economy ministers from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay and Venezuela decided ...

A New Daily from Washington to Brazil

Beginning Oct. 31, 2005, U.S.-based United Airlines is scheduled to offer customers additional daily ...

Brazil Wants to Reduce Mother and Baby Mortality by 15%

To mark World Health Day, commemorated today, the World Health Organization (WHO) launched the ...

Albrecht, an equipment firm in Santa Catarina, Brazil

Brazil: Santa Catarina Investing US$ 765 Million in Equipment and R&D

The industries from the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina are planning on investing ...

Brazil Opens 1000th Computer Center

The Bank of Brazil’s (BB) Digital Inclusion Program attained the mark of 1000 community ...

Brazil Sets Half a Billion Dollars Apart for Nukes and Atomic Submarine

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva announced that Brazil will budget about half ...

Brazil Gets a 4 for Corruption. Worse than Botswana, But Better than Haiti.

Chile, Uruguay and Costa Rica figure with the best qualifications among Latinamerican countries in ...

World Economic Forum Debates in Brazil How to Strengthen LatAm

Starts Wednesday, April 5, in São Paulo, southeast Brazil, the World Economic Forum (WEF) ...

Brazil Expecting a US$ 37 Billion Surplus in 2005

Over the last twelve months, Brazil exported US$ 39.875 billion more than it imported. ...

2.3 Million Tons to 150 Countries. Brazil Is Still Beef Leader.

Despite the problems involving hoof and mouth disease, Brazilian beef retained first place in ...