Eye on the Amazon: The Official Blog of Amazon Watch
April 12, 2012 | Maira Irigiray
Last weekend I was blown away at Lollapalooza Brazil in São Paulo, where several top-notch artists publicly joined the battle against the Belo Monte dam. Lollapaloza – an annual music festival featuring popular alternative rock, heavy metal, punk rock, and hip hop bands, dance and comedy performances, and craft booths – also provides a platform for nonprofit orgs and other groups. The music festival hosts more than 160,000 people over three days.
At Lollapalooza São Paulo, more than 75,000 people came out to enjoy bands like The Crystal Method and Foo Fighters.
I was hosted by Janine Jordan, Executive Director of the Electronic Music Alliance and spouse of Ken Jordan, a member of The Crystal Method. While performing, Jordan stood in solidarity with the Movimento Xingu Vivo, wearing the movement's t-shirt and shouting "Stop Belo Monte!" during one of his sets.
April 11, 2012 | Mitch Anderson
Water is the source of life. Without clean water we cannot survive. Emergildo Criollo
The years have passed slowly. When Emergildo was a child he saw the Texaco helicopters hovering above the forest canopy and thought they were "metal birds." Then he saw the rivers run black. He saw the fish go blind. The shaman died. The Boa, the spirit of the river, fled. Roads were built. And pipelines. And wells. And toxic waste pits. The colonists arrived. The animals disappeared. The forest was felled. The water tasted of oil and salt. His people became sick. His wife drank poisoned water. Two of his children died. Time moves slowly. A lawsuit was filed against the company. Arguments were made. Evidence was collected. Lawyers fought. Years passed. And more years. The company was found guilty. The lawyers fought some more. The fight continues. The rivers are still poisoned.
Please watch and share this video! Learn about how the Cofan (along with the Siona, Secoya and Quichua) are finding clean water solutions, like rainwater harvesting, for their communities. Support Emergildo and the global clean water relief effort at ClearWater.
Marchers protest against Brazil's backsliding on environmental and human rights policies
April 10, 2012 | Felipe Milanez
The Embassy of Brazil in Washington, DC – a modernist building that contrasts with the classical buildings of the beautiful Embassy Row, embassy sector of the United States capital – was the scene of a march yesterday that brought together about 100 people. In attendance were students, activists, and Brazilians who live in the region that expressed their concerns during President Rousseff's visit to the city. The participants protested against four central themes: violence in the countryside, especially in the Amazon, and impunity of the leaders and executors of these crimes; land reform; changes in the Brazilian Forestry Code; construction of large dams in the Amazon. Posters displayed images of José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva, his wife Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva, both killed in May 24, 2011, Dorothy Stang, Chico Mendes, and a scene of the burial of 19 landless workers killed in the massacre of Eldorado dos Carajás, in 1996.
"The Amazon and its people want to live. Stop the violence!" said one of the banners, referring to a dramatic situation in the Amazon: the politically motivated assassinations in the region. Photos of Laisa Santos Sampaio, sister of Maria, and Nilcilene Miguel de Lima were paired with their recent statement: "I want to live." The same words were spoken by Chico Mendes, shortly before his death. Nilcilene is under protection of the National Force, ending soon. Laisa, who also receives death threats, continues without any official protection.
Marguerite Hohm, sister of the missionary Dorothy Stang who was assassinated in Pará in 2005, participated in solidarity with activists who receive death threats in the region. "Enough with the violence in the Amazon," she said. After serving only part of their sentences, some of those involved in the assassination of Dorothy Stang, such as Bida, one of the leaders, and Fogoió, one of the executors, are already free.
The slogans of the mobilization included social and environmental phrases, against the damming of Belo Monte Dam ("Stop Belo Monte"), against the Forest Code being voted on by the Brazilian Congress ("Veto it, Dilma!"), as well as "Don't be afraid to say NO to the Agrarian Elite”, and in defense of traditional forest peoples: “Indians, gatherers and farmers: doctors of ecology. "
As Rio+20 nears, Brazil’s Dilma shouts down critics and undermines her case
April 6, 2012 | Christian Poirier
Are those of us concerned about the growing and dire threats to the Amazon and its peoples fantasizing about President Dilma Rousseff's dismal socio-environmental policies? She seems to think so. This week she belittled the critiques of leading Brazilian human rights and environmental organizations calling their objections to her government's disastrous plans to extensively dam the Amazon's rivers a "fantasy."
Telling assembled representatives of 36 NGOs that their concerns about her government's unprecedented backsliding on socio-environmental issues are "absurdly ethereal or fanciful", Dilma has launched a counter-offensive to the growing and well-deserved criticisms that she is presiding over a catastrophic dismantling of the hard-won social and environmental gains enshrined in Brazil's 1988 constitution.
The timing of this vitriol is not accidental: in the months preceding the Rio+20 conference the Brazilian government urgently needs to reinforce its credentials as a country that has balanced economic growth and poverty reduction with respect for environmental sustainability and human rights. However, Dilma may find it challenging to keep the wool pulled over our eyes; disasters like the gutting of Brazil's conservationist Forest Code and the illegal construction of the Belo Monte dam on the Amazon's Xingu River irrefutably undermine her government's socio-environmental record.
March 30, 2012 | Mitch Anderson
The courthouse stands four stories high along the main drag of Lago Agrio. Like all other buildings in the town, the weather has gotten the best of it; it is tropically dilapidated. The colors, off-white with yellow trim, are ruined; the cement shows signs of crumbling; and from up close the black mold appears to be winning against all else.
The townspeople refer to the building as "la corte", though in actuality the court itself is only a series of offices on the third floor. The first floor is a credit agency, a copy and print shop, and an appliance store; the second floor is the government tourism office, full of brochures; and the fourth floor is a vacant, dark and unused terraza.
At the courthouse on the third floor, the people move slowly, deliberately. The air conditioning does not work. The air is stale and sticky. Just as any other provincial court, there are the usual characters – the judges, prosecutors, defenders, administrative workers – who shuffle in and out of rooms, swamped with any number of local civil or criminal cases. There are also, of course, the plaintiffs and the defendants, who come and go, huddle with their lawyers, wait, come and go again, always hoping never to return. In general it is an average courthouse scene.