Tag Archive: Brazil

In the south region of Mato Grosso do Sul, in the border of Brazil and Paraguay, the most populous indigenous nation of the country silently struggle for its territory, trying to contain the advance of its powerful enemies.

Expelled from their lands because of the continuous process of colonization, more than 40,000 Guarani Kaiowá live nowadays in less than 1% of their original territory. Over their lands there are now thousands of hectares of sugarcane planted by multinational enterprises that, in agreement with the government, show ethanol to the world as an environment friendly and “clean” fuel.

Without the lands and the forests, the Guarani Kaiowá have been coexisting for years with a malnutrition epidemic that reach their children. With no alternative of subsistence, adults and kids are exploited in the cane fields in exhausting working days. In the production line of the “clean” fuel, the Federal Public Prosecutor constantly sues the owners of the plants because of the child labor and the slave labor found there.

Amid the delirium of the green gold fever (the way people call sugarcane), indigenous leadership that face the imposed power many times find as their fate the death ordered by the big farmers.

November 4, 2011 | by Christian Poirier

Photo Credit: Ivan Canabrava / Amazon WatchPhoto Credit: Ivan Canabrava / Amazon Watch

“Our resistance against this destructive project called Belo Monte remains unshakable. The occupation has sent a clear message to President Dilma Rousseff’s administration that the fight for the Xingu is more alive than ever. If the Brazilian government continues to insist on violating our rights, other resistance actions shall come.”

As I landed in the tumultuous city of Altamira last Thursday I was greeted with breaking news from my colleagues at the Xingu Alive Forever Movement: The massive Belo Monte work camp and Trans-Amazon highway had been closed in a daring early morning occupation led by a diverse coalition of indigenous peoples, local farmers, fisherfolk, and members of social movements from across Brazil. In a direct action that was unprecedented in its scale and impact, the occupiers paralyzed works on a portion of the monstrous Belo Monte Dam complex, sending a strong signal of resistance to a belligerent federal government determined to bulldoze their river and their rights.

In a collective statement protesters stressed, “In the face of the Brazilian government’s intransigence to dialogue and continuing disrespect, we occupied the Belo Monte construction site and blocked the Trans-Amazon highway. We demand a definitive cancellation of the Belo Monte Dam.”

Meanwhile, construction of another set of the project’s work camps continued at breakneck speed, using a fleet of heavy machinery to carve wide roads through felled and burnt out forests, forcing people from their homes to make way for Belo Monte’s strategic installations. Quite the opposite of heeding the call of protesters to immediately halt construction, the project consortium NESA continued its destruction unabated, confident that overwhelming and seemingly impervious political support for Belo Monte – backed by a ruthless security apparatus – would protect their objectives. But the protest occupation laid bare a basic fact: resistance to the dam is growing as fast as its popularity among local communities and the Brazilian public is falling.

Read the entire article on Amazon Watch