Two barges transporting over 200 illegal logs were impounded by IBAMA (Brazilian Environmental Agency) after a three days blockade by 40 small river boats in the Jaraucu river.
The communities' successful protest supported by Greenpeace
activists on the ground is the first of its kind in almost 20 years
as the people that depend on the forest for their livelihood stand
up against forest destruction and demand the creation of an
Extractive reserves are protected areas designated for
conservation and sustainable use of the areas' natural resources by
the people who live in the area. The three-day protest was inspired
by Chico Mendes, a world-renowned activist, who was murdered 14
years ago trying to protect the Amazon rainforest. His model of
protest, known as empates or physical blockades of forest areas,
was widely used in the 1980's. Chico Mendes also developed the
model for extractive reserves in the 80s with other traditional
forest dwellers and the National Council of Rubber Tappers and was
later adopted by the Brazilian federal government.
This is the first time a blockade of this type has been carried
out since he died. The communities' goal is to create Verde Para
Sempre (Forever Green), the largest extractive reserve in the
world, which would help stop forest destruction and promote the
sustainable use of natural resources. The proposed area is 1.3
million hectares, almost half the size of Belgium.
Over 40 small riverboats anchored across the 100-meter wide
Jaraucu river - the main channel for the transport of illegal
timber in the region this time of year. The blockade saw this first
transport over the weekend as metal barge carrying 113 illegally
harvested logs was stopped.
The skipper of the tugboat, André Campos, is the brother of the
Mayor of Porto de Moz, a small town at the mouth of the Xingu
river. The barge tried to ram the blockade at high speed. A
Greenpeace inflatable boat was able to deflect the barge into the
riverbank, saving five small boats from destruction, and 86 local
people, mostly children and elderly people, from serious injury or
The barge crew reacted violently and three people were injured.
Protesters from Greenpeace and a journalist from the Brazilian TV
network Record, also had to be rescued from the local airport at
Porto de Moz by police after coming under threat from the logging
Ibama (the Brazilian Environmental Agency) agents seized the
illegal logs on board the first barge and then later, together with
Greenpeace and community members, impounded a second barge with 90
illegal logs onboard, also owned by a member of the Campos
Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon Campaign Coordinator, is on the
scene and describes the area as no man's land. "It's criminal that
officials who are entrusted with public safety, like the Mayor of
Porto de Moz, instead protect only their commercial interests,
while the people of the region live in fear as their environment is
destroyed. Eighty percent of the worlds' ancient forests are
already destroyed, and the very people who could preserve the
remainder are subjected to intimidation and violence."