Brazil: rural women protest pulp plantation

In the wee hours of March 8, International Women’s Day, 2,000 campesina women occupied a eucalyptus plantation belonging to the Aracruz Celulosa plant, a large paper and pulp mill in Barra do Ribeiro, 56 kilometers from Porto Alegre in southern Brazil. Seven hours later, the women, in an action coordinated with the international group Vía Campesina, marched through Porto Alegre to the Catholic University, where the second International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ICARRD) is taking place, organized by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The protesters found the gate to the university blocked by police. A tense stand-off and scuffle ensued.

After a half-hour of negotiations, a delegation of 50 women was allowed into the auditorium where the conference is taking place, chanting “Agrarian Reform, Urgent and Necessary” and “Women, United, Will Never Be Defeated.” They read out a “Manifesto of Campesina Women” protesting the “violence and exploitation” suffered by peasants in Brazil, and calling for a “comprehensive agrarian reform” to secure food sovereignty. The statement also protested “authoritarian domination” by transnational corporations and condemned the “green deserts” created by “enormous plantations of eucalyptus, acacia and pine trees,” grown to produce paper pulp. (IPS, March 8)

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