Archive for June 1st, 2011

Death Threat From Shell Supplier On Brazilian Tribe’s Land


Death Threat From Shell Supplier On Brazilian Tribe’s Land

Posted 31 May 2011, by Staff, Indigenous Peoples, Issues & Resources,

A Brazilian rancher supplying sugarcane to a joint venture partner of energy giant Shell has reportedly issued a death threat against a political opponent.


José Teixeira, who is also a state deputy, is said to have recently warned a political rival that, ‘If it were up to me, you’d be under the ground.’


Teixeira is renting out part of his ranch for sugarcane production, even though the Government has confirmed that the land belongs to Guarani Indians.


Shell and Brazilian ethanol company Cosan are now united in a $12 billion joint venture company called Raizen, to produce ethanol to sell as a biofuel. Cosan is buying sugarcane grown on Guarani land that Teixeira continues to occupy. Survival International has urged Shell and Cosan to stop using sugarcane grown on the Guarani’s land, but the companies continue to use it.


The Guarani of Guyraroká community were evicted from their land decades ago by ranchers. For years they lived destitute on the roadside. Despite now occupying a fraction of their land their lives and livelihoods are at risk as they have very little space to plant crops or hunt game.


They warn that the chemicals used on the sugarcane plantations are polluting the rivers they use for drinking, bathing and fishing, and provoking acute diarrhoea. They report that the vinhoto – the by-product of ethanol production – is causing intense headaches amongst adults and children.


Guarani health agent Senilda Esnade told Survival, ‘In the past, the children were happy. They had clean water, they ate traditional, healthier food. It’s different now; often, the children grow up eating food that is contaminated. If we had our own land, we’d be able to revive what we’re losing’.


Survival International’s Director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The deputy’s death threat is yet more evidence of the brutality linked to the land struggle in the Guarani’s area. Shell and its partners cannot continue to profit from their use of Guarani territory while the Guarani themselves are squeezed on to smaller and smaller patches of land. The company must abide by the international norms requiring respect for indigenous rights, which its own policy statements claim to support’.


Download Survival’s report about the Guarani’s land situation, sent to the United Nations last year in English or Portuguese (pdf, 2.5 MB).


Source: Survival International

Brazil grants building permit for Belo Monte Amazon dam


Brazil grants building permit for Belo Monte Amazon dam

Posted 01 June 2011, by Staff, BBC News,

Brazil’s environment agency has backed construction of a hydro-electric dam in the Amazon, opposed by indigenous groups and environmentalists.

The agency, Ibama, said the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River had been subjected to “robust analysis” of its impact on the environment.

The government says the dam is key to meeting Brazil’s growing energy needs.

But opponents argue it will harm the world’s largest tropical rainforest and displace tens of thousands of people.

In January, Ibama gave the go-ahead for initial work to begin on the site on the Xingu, a tributary of the Amazon River.

Now, Ibama has issued the penultimate licence that the Norte Energia consortium building the dam needs.

This means, in theory at least, that building work on the dam can begin.

Homeless threat

But the federal prosecutor’s office in the state of Para, where the dam is located, has already lodged a legal challenge to the project.

Friction with local indigenous communities is also likely to intensify now Ibama has granted the building licence, correspondents say.

The 11,000-megawatt dam would be the third biggest in the world – after the Three Gorges in China and Itaipu, which is jointly run by Brazil and Paraguay.

First planned 30 years ago, it has long been a source of controversy.

Campaigners say the 6km (3.7-mile) dam will threaten the survival of a number of indigenous groups and could make some 50,000 people homeless, as 500 sq km (190 sq miles) of land would be flooded.

Bacteria as Endangered Species


Bacteria as Endangered Species

Posted 31 May 2011, by Sami Grover, TreeHugger,

Humans may be 90% bacteria, but Elisabeth Fukonia—writing over at The Permaculture Research Institute of Australia—argues that some bacteria are becoming an endangered species. Like wild fermentation advocate Sandor Katz, Fukonia believes we need to reintroduce traditionally fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi back into our diets. This is, she argues, a crucial matter of health, and perhaps even life and death:

“Food allergies, candida, irritable bowel syndrome and even cancer, are all symptoms of a lack of friendly bacteria and enzymes in the gut. It has been noted that no cancer patient has healthy bowel flora. That speaks volumes doesn’t it? The balance needs to be put back so that the pathogens don’t gain a foothold. We need to put back those organisms that are disappearing from our health and well being.”

History and Resistance on Blair Mountain

History & Resistance on Blair Mountain

On June 4, hundreds of people from Appalachia and all over the country will come together to demand the rights of people and ecology. The March seeks to preserve the historical Blair Mountain, put an end to the disastrous practice of mountain top removal, and, like the Battle of Blair, to strengthen labor and community rights. All are welcome to come and join together in this fight for human rights and environmental justice.

Here’s something the history books left out: In 1921, more than 10,000 West Virginia coal miners rose up in resistance to coal companies who refused to allow miners to unionize. It was the largest armed insurrection in the United States since the Civil War. This uprising, which took place in Logan County, West Virginia, is known as the Battle of Blair Mountain. The miners were met with a private army of police funded by coal companies, who employed, among other things, World War One planes to drop bombs and gas.
The Battle of Blair Mountain was five days long and bloody, leaving dozens of miners dead and many more imprisoned. Despite an impressive resistance effort, in the end the battle was lost upon the intervention of the United States army, who supported the coal industry. Blair was just one of many struggles to resist the oppression and hegemony of coal companies throughout the long history of mining in Appalachia, but it was unsurpassed in size and significance.Big coal did all it could to prevent miners from unionizing and to silence their demands for fair wages and decent working conditions. In the late 1800s, the coal industry set up company towns throughout Appalachia, a fundamentally feudal system where companies owned all town establishments and paid workers in company scrip. Tactics included intimidation, harassment, physical violence—even murder. Coal companies hired gun thugs and strikebreakers to threaten miners, ensuring that they wouldn’t organize.Today, coal companies like Massey Energy, now Alpha Energy, continue to exploit workers and ravage the environment through newer mining practices including mountain top removal. This devastating form of “extreme strip mining” entails literally blowing up mountains in order to extract the seams of coal within. Mountains are stripped of trees and topsoil, and finally detonated. Not only does this process destroy the mountain itself, the “overburden”—toxic chemicals used as part of the extraction process— flow into nearby water sources, contaminating water in entire region. The result is deadly both to wildlife and to human inhabitants anywhere near a Mountain Top Removal site.

Studies and statistics have verified this, yet the coal companies continue, as they always have, to neglect the rights of miners and miners’ families, putting profit ahead of human lives. Indeed, big coal has proven to be, again and again, hostile to Appalachian communities, culture, and land. And as of right now, over five hundred mountains have been destroyed by this egregious process.

Appalachia is the second most bio-diverse region on the planet. Blair Mountain is covered in lush, thick forests. West Virginia’s resplendent mountain crests and tree-laden ridges are breathtaking, and Blair Mountain is no exception. But Blair Mountain is exceptional in its history—the history of more than ten thousand miners coming together to combat the brutish ways of the coal companies This is the history of a bonafide peoples’ resistance, defending their land and very lives from corporate exploitation. But the stories of the Battle of Blair are slowly fading into the past. The destruction of Blair Mountain is a death sentence for this rich history. When Blair Mountain is blown up, a chapter in American labor history is torn out and forever lost. The coal companies will have robbed the people of Appalachia of still one more thing: their history.

On June 4, hundreds of people from Appalachia and all over the country will come together to demand the rights of people and ecology. We implore that Blair Mountain be saved from the coal companies who wish to destroy it, as they have done to so many mountains—and people—in the name of profit.

We will march for five days, starting in Marmet, WV, and arriving at last at Blair Mountain, where we will proclaim this mountain’s right to exist. Standing united against the exploitation and profiteering of big business will be miners and local citizens, activists, students, academics, and environmentalists.

Losing Blair to mountain top removal will allow the coal companies to once more devour and nullify the history of Appalachian peoples’ resistance, in an effort to eradicate it altogether. The March on Blair Mountain is a call for justice, when there has been so little of it over the past century and a half in Appalachia.

The March seeks to preserve the historical Blair Mountain, put an end to the disastrous practice of mountain top removal, and, like the Battle of Blair, to strengthen labor and community rights. All are welcome to come and join together in this fight for human rights and environmental justice.

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Brazil federal leaders discuss Amazon conflict

Brazil federal leaders discuss Amazon conflict

Posted 31 May 2011, by Staff, Latin America News Dispatch,

Following a meeting on Monday, the Brazilian government said that it plans to protect rural activists and increase policing in the Amazon rain forest after a recent upsurge in violence toward activists due to disputes over illegal logging.

Led by Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer, the meeting brought together Brazil’s ministers of environment, justice, rural development and human rights to help foster cooperation between the federal and state governments in an effort the quell the violence. Later this week meetings will be held with the governors of the states of Pará, Amazonas and Roraima in the capital, Brasilia.

“The federal government will not hold back on efforts to bring peace to the region,” said Justice Minister Luiz Paulo Barreto. He added that Brazil’s government will analyze all the cases on a list compiled by the Catholic Land Pastoral (CPT) watchdog group.

According to the CPT, more than 1,150 rural activists have been killed in Brazil over the past 20 years. The murders have been linked to gunmen hired by loggers, ranchers and farmers to silence protest over the illegal logging of forests.

Last week rubber tapper José Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva were shot down by gunman in a small city in the northern state of Pará. News of the murders came hours before Brazil’s lower house voted 273 to 182 to pass a controversial bill to reform the Forest Code.

The measure would allow small farmers more liberty to cultivate and deforest protected environmental areas in the Amazon forest. The measure would also grant amnesty to those guilty of illegally deforesting the area prior to 2008 (such crimes are punishable by fines).

Last Friday, another rural leader, Adelino Ramos, was shot dead in the state of Rondonia. Widely known as Dinho, Ramos was shot by a motorist as he sold vegetables in Rondonia’s capital, Porto Velho.

A man named Ozeas Vicente was arrested Monday after turning himself in for killing Adelino Ramos.

After Monday’s meeting, ministers gave no details to explain how the government plans to increase policing in the rural Amazon states. The Brazilian Justice Ministry did however did ask for the federal police’s participation in investigating the death of the two activists in the state of Pará.

“We will not accept these murders, and will intensify monitoring and investigation and strengthen actions leading to sustainable development in the region,” said Rural Development Minister Afonso Florence, according to The Washington Post.