Greenpeace discovers an illegal logging operation with at least 200km of roads serving the operation. Greenpeace activists paint the loggers barge with the message CRIME then uses it to blockade access to the sort yard.
The protest and threats were aimed not only against Greenpeace,
which has been exposing illegal logging in the region, but against
the Brazilian Environmental agency's attempt to enforce the laws of
Brazil as well. In an action a few days ago our activists
discovered a barge full of illegal logs in a remote riverside
harbour. Activists painted "Crime" on 6,000 cubic metres of logs,
and marked the area with yellow tape as a "Forest Crime" scene.
Inspectors from Ibama, the Brazilian Environmental agency, are
currently active in the region. Inspectors working along the
Transamazonian highway were trapped in their hotel last week when
they were surrounded by 300 armed loggers.
Loggers were provoked to protest by a local radio station,
saying they were "cowards" if they didn't chase Greenpeace out. The
radio station is owned by the mayor of this small town, who also
controls the largest logging operation in the region, and who
offered free fuel and T-shirts to those who joined. The loggers
were further incited by an inflammatory speech by Federal Deputy
Nicias Ribeiro, who accused the loggers of "having no balls" unless
they forced Greenpeace from the area. The Arctic Sunrise was rammed
at one point by a small aluminum boat, and several highly dangerous
attempts to board the vessel were repelled. It was reported that
alcohol had also been distributed to the protestors. According to
Tracy Frauzel, a web editor on board the ship throughout the
conflict, the boardings were unlike a Greenpeace protest: "There is
one major difference... Greenpeace has a 30-year history of
non-violent protest, the loggers in this region have a history of
violence and death threats."
The loggers, in 17 boats and 2 large barges, withdrew after
tense negotiations, when Greenpeace agreed to permit seven
representatives of the logging industry onboard their vessel.
The loggers accused Greenpeace and Ibama, the arm of the
Brazilian government responsible for enforcing forestry laws, of
causing economic chaos. Logging, the main activity in the region,
ground to a halt last week when Ibama arrived to apply rule of law
in this wild frontier. The Federal government is investigating
illegal logging operations, and a community-led movement is seeking
to create an extractive reserve, Verde para Sempre (Forever
In the midst of the assault on the Greenpeace ship, 20 leaders
of the community movement, who were meeting at the Rural Workers
Union building in the town, received an anonymous telephone call
saying that they would be attacked and their office burned. They
fled and took sanctuary in the local Catholic Church.
The Arctic Sunrise withdrew from the protest area in order to
free up the four State Police who had come onboard, so that they
could protect the community leaders.
"Para continues to lead the pack in lawlessness in the Amazon"
said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon Campaign Coordinator. "Rather
than comply with the laws of Brazil, the loggers are aggressively
demanding that the government withdraws and leaves them to continue
to destroy the Amazon with impunity."
"If this lawlessness is not brought under control, and if the
Porto de Moz and Prainha Reserves are not immediately created by
Brazil's Federal Government, the illegal logging industry will
destroy the remaining forest of the region. This will leave the
15,000 people of the local communities with no hope of preserving
the environment that they depend upon for their very survival",
added Adario. "The government needs to act now."
Illegal logs discovered last week originated in an area
controlled by Mr. Paulo Pombo Tocantins. Pombo has links to
Selvapad, a Brazilian-owned company, which has recently started
exploiting timber in Para State. Pombo, one of the largest log
traders in the Porto de Moz area, supplies companies such as Eidai
do Brasil Madeiras S/A. Eidai sells to the US, Japan and into the
The recently released Greenpeace report
"Para - State of Conflict" showed clearly that all
government-approved Forest Management Plans in the Porto de Moz
region are based on false or insufficient land title documentation.
Most of these plans are used to launder illegally cut wood outside
of the boundaries of the plans themselves.
Our activists in the Amazon were tipped off last week by
ribeirinhos (traditional riverbank settlers) about the problems
caused by Selvapad, when the company cut a track through the forest
that cut deep into community land. The ribeirinhos also reported
that they had to physically stop 300 trees on their land from being
illegally cut. According to community members, these trees would
certainly have been "laundered" through Paolo Pombo's management
Our Ancient Forest Campaign promotes the ecological and social
use of the forest resources, as well as the creation of a network
of protected areas in ancient forest regions worldwide. We are
urging companies to immediately stop buying wood from Porto de Moz
and the Prainha region, because most of the wood comes from illegal
and crime related areas.
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