Thursday, February 24, 2005

Another Murder in the Brazilian Rainforest

This morning ENN is reporting that another human rights leader has been murdered in the federal reserve Tingua, about 19 miles from Rio de Janeiro. Dionisio Ribeiro Filho was a local advocate for sustainability and worked to keep rainforest tracts from being clearcut by logging companies, oil and gas companies, and land-grabbers. He was shot at close range with a shotgun.

Only 10 days ago, Sister Dorothy Stang was brutally assasinated at close range by the very people she was working to defeat: illegal logging companies and local corrupt politicians. So what were these hired (obviously) killers thinking? That they wouldn't get caught? After the most publicized murder in Brazil's history (other than Chico Mendes) these people contine to murder. The question is, how much of this is being sponsored by logging companies, land-grabbers, and local power players and how many of those companies are foreign? The worst thing that could happen here is the discovery of a link between American/European logging giants and the growing violence against environmentalists in the South American rainforests.

This tactic, of shutting up ecologists and environmentalists by murdering them, has got to stop. What's clear is that the Amazon is in utter chaos. Whatever President de Silva does it needs to be significant. Our biggest fear should be that de Silva creates pseudo-national parks that are really just tracts of land patrolled by none other than the very people that destroy them: ranchers, oil and gas companies and logging groups. What we may be seeing is the creation of a market similar to that of marijuana and cocoa, i.e. the market will always supply the need of the consumer. The majority of this Amazon wood is finding its way, either through the black market or through many middlemen, into American homes. The middleman is often China (the world's leading importer of hardwoods from all over the world). While the US and some US logging companies publicly boycott Amazonian wood, furniture companies and interior designers are able to pick the same sacred mahogany and palm pieces right out of China for cheaper. As long as there is a need for these rare resources, people will continue to use violence against those who wish to slow the market.

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