This video is a little long, but it is an amazing view of the dangers faced by activists working in places like this.
From the Guardian’s website:
Paulo Adário, the coordinator of Greenpeace’s Amazonia campaign, who led the mission subsequently complained that ‘We heard from the Mayor and all of the others that the Constitution does not exist in Juína, there is no right to go and see, no freedom of the press. It is completely unacceptable that ranchers, with the support of the local authorities, can violate our freedom of movement and freedom of expression in this way.’Unfortunately such threats are both very real and very common in Brazil today. Over the past 30 years, 1,237 rural workers, union leaders and activist have been killed in Brazilian land disputes and only a tiny handful people have ever been convicted as a result.
I have huge respect for journalists and activist who put their lives on the line to get the truth out. But as Paulo reminded me by email:
We could leave the region with our plane and – that Tuesday – remove the two Opan guys. But the Enawene will stay there forever, and Opan needs to come back to help them. They are under threat, not us.
He’s right. They’ve asked for our help, and brave people like that deserve it. One way we can help to keep them safe is to spread the word. So please forward this video around.
post do Andrew no Blog Making Waves
August 30, 2007
Threats and intimidation down Amazon way
As the narrator of this startling video states, “working in the Amazon forest is not for the faint of heart.” In the past, people from campaigning organisations have been bullied by land owners and workers, facing intimidation, violence, death threats and even murder. The most recent example, documented in the video from Greenpeace Brazil, happened just last week and seeing footage of a situation verging on outright violence, I’ve found a new level of respect for the men and women who put themselves in the firing line.
The trouble began when a group of representatives from Greenpeace and Operation Native Amazon (an organisation working with forest communities), along with two French journalists, went to visit the indigenous Enawene-Nawe people near the town of Juina in Mato Grosso state. All they wanted to do was document their way of life in the forest, but were prevented from doing so by an angry mob of farmers and local officials.
Attempts to negotiate failed as it became clear that the farmers considered themselves as owners of not just the land and roads, but also the Enawene-Nawe as well. As the group are escorted away by a convoy of Jeeps and pick-up trucks, this appalling affront to civil liberties in a democratic country is a shock to the system, particularly as the town mayor was helping to run them out of town. At least they could leave, but the Enawene-Nawe’s lands are surrounded by farms which are continually encroaching on the forest.
When it comes down to it, the rights of a community who have lived there for generations are being challenged by the commercial ambitions of farmers who have been cutting down the forest for perhaps 20 years. I know who I’m backing.
post do Jamie no Blog Making Waves