Amazon Theater

Amazon's "uncontacted" peoples: more than thought, facing peril

From the New York Times, Jan. 18:

BRASÍLIA — Far more Indian groups than previously thought are surviving in Brazil’s Amazon rain forest isolated from the outside world, but they risk destruction at the hands of encroaching loggers and miners, experts said Wednesday.

Ecuador boots Oxy

From Upside Down World, May 24:

The nullification of Occidental Petroleum’s oil-drilling contract by the Ecuadorian government has generated mixed reactions in the Americas. Ecuador's oil minister revoked the California-based oil giant’s contract last week for allegedly not informing the government that the company sold off 40% of its Ecuadorian holdings to Canadian-based EnCana. However, it had long been known that Oxy’s presence in Block 15—a 464,000 acre chunk of Northeast Ecuador--invoked militarization, an environmental catastrophe and sparked off a social unrest in indigenous communities that the government could not contain.

Ethnic cleansing in Ecuador

From EFE, April 29 via ServIndi (our translation):

QUITO - The government will investigate an alleged massacre of indigenous people in the Amazon, at the hands of presumed armed madereros [pirate loggers], in a dispute over a forest zone, the local press reported today.

Brazil: landless mark massacre

On April 17, members of Brazil's Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) commemorated the 10th anniversary of the day in 1996 when Military Police (PM) agents fired at some 1,500 MST members who were marching on the PA-150 highway in Eldorado dos Carajas, Para state. The PM agents killed 19 campesinos and wounded 69 others, many of whom continue to suffer health effects from bullets lodged in their bodies and must seek frequent medical attention.

Ethnic cleansing in Colombian Amazon

Seventy-six members of the Nukak-Makú, the last nomadic indigenous group in Colombia, including 27 children, arrived March 6 at the town of San José de Guaviare, on the edge of the Amazon rainforest. They arrived naked, exhausted and frightened, fleeing their home region of Tomachipán, some nine hours away by fast launch on the Rio Inírida. It is estimated they marched two months through the forest.

Brazil: Guarani leader murdered

On Dec. 24 a hired killer shot to death Kaiowa Guarani indigenous leader Dorvalino Rocha at his community's makeshift roadside encampment in Antonio Joao municipality, in Brazil's Mato Grosso do Sul state. The killer shot Rocha in the chest after arriving at the encampment in a vehicle with two other men. The 500 residents of the Nande Ru Marangatu territory—demarcated officially in March 2005 but facing a court challenge by local ranchers—have been camping by the highway since Dec. 15, when they were forcibly evicted by more than 100 Brazilian federal police agents.

Paramilitary terror in Brazil

On Nov. 16, Brazilian landless workers Vanderlei Macena Cruz and Mauro Gomes Duarte, residents of Accampamento Renascer (Rebirth Encampment), were assassinated while riding a motorcycle to work near Gleba Gama, in the Nova Guarita region of Brazil's Mato Grosso state. According to information released by the Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), the two men were found dead on a road that divides the properties falsely claimed by local landowners Silmar Kessler and Sebastiao Neves de Almeida known by the nickname Chapeu Preto (Black Hat). Another rural worker heard the shots and quickly gathered other residents to find the bodies on the road; the Military Police did not arrive at the scene until late in the evening.

Arson traps indigenous gathering in Brazilian Amazon

A group of some 3,000 indigenous people gathering to mark the official opening of a new reserve are trapped in the remote village of Maturca, Roraima state, after its bridge burned down. Authorities say settlers opposed to the creation of the Raposa Serra do Sol reserve deliberately burned the bridge, which is the only access into Maturuca. Brazil agreed to create the reservation in April, despite strong opposition from local landowners and settlers. Some 3,500 people had gathered at Maturuca for the celebrations. (BBC, Sept. 23)

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