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Blood in the Amazon: Brazilian Activists Murdered as Deforestation Increases

Benjamin Dangl – Toward Freedom – 31 May 2011
José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva
José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva

Early in the morning on May 24, in the northern Brazilian Amazon, José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria do Espírito Santo da Silva got onto a motorcycle near the nature reserve they had worked on for over two decades. As the couple rode past the jungle they dedicated their lives to protecting, gunmen hiding near a bridge opened fire, killing them both.

Brazilian law enforcement officials said that the killing appeared to be the work of hired gunmen, due to the fact that an ear was cut off each of the victims. This is often done to prove to whoever paid for the killings that the job was carried out.

The murder took place the same day the Brazilian Congress passed a change to the forestry code that would allow agribusinesses and ranchers to clear even more land in the Amazon jungle. Deforestation rose 27 percent from August 2010 to April 2011 largely due to soybean plantations. The levels will likely rise if the changes to the forestry code are passed by the Senate.

Ribeiro knew he was in danger of being killed for his struggle against loggers, ranchers and large scale farmers who were deforesting the Amazon. In fact, just six months earlier, in November 2010 at an environmental conference in Manaus, Brazil, he told the audience “I could be here today talking to you and in one month you will get the news that I disappeared. I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment. … As long as I have the strength to walk I will denounce all of those who damage the forest.”

The life and death of Ribeiro has been rightly compared to that of Chico Mendes, a Brazilian rubber tapper, union leader and environmentalist who fought against logging and ranching, winning international attention for his successful campaigns against deforestation. In 1988, Mendes was murdered by gunmen hired by ranchers.

Just two weeks before he was killed, Mendes also spoke hauntingly about the likelihood that he would be murdered for his activism. “I don’t want flowers, because I know you are going to pull them up from the forest. The only thing I want is that my death helps to stop the murderers’ impunity…”

Yet since the murder of Mendes, impunity in the Brazilian countryside has become the norm. In the past 20 years, over 1,150 rural activists have been killed in conflicts related to land. Of these murders, less than 100 cases have gone to court, only 80 of the killers have been convicted, and just 15 of the people who hired the gunmen were found guilty, according to Catholic Land Pastoral, a group monitoring land conflicts. Impunity reigns in rural areas due to the corruption of judicial officials and police, and the wealth and power of the ranchers, farmers and loggers who are often the ones who order the killings.

The recent murder of Ribeiro and Santo combined with the danger posed by changes to the forestry code are devastating indications of the direction Brazil is heading in the Amazon. For some, the expansion of logging, ranching and soybean operations into the Amazon are inevitable steps toward economic progress. But for others, a different kind of progress is necessary if the planet is to survive. As Chico Mendes explained just days before his death in 1988, he wanted to “demonstrate that progress without destruction is possible.”

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Benjamin Dangl is the author of the new book Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America (AK Press). He edits TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events, and UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America. Email Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com

June 11, 2011 Posted by | Environmentalism, Solidarity and Activism | Leave a comment

Zionist inversion of values

By Carlos Latuff on December 14, 2006

Another example of moral inversion, largely used by those who support the State of Israel and its crimes.

June 11, 2011 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | Leave a comment

Israeli soldier to activists who were detained near Beit Ommar: “I could kill you.”

11 June 2011 | International Solidarity Movement

On Saturday June 11 three International Solidarity Movement activists were stopped by the Israeli army when trying to enter the village of Beit Ommar in the southern West Bank. The activists were going to participate in a non-violent demonstration against the illegal settlements in the area.

As the activists tried to enter the village Israeli soldiers stopped them and claimed that the area had been declared a closed military zone. When questioned about not being able to show the official paper needed to prove this, one soldier pointed at a sign which stated that the area is under Palestinian Authority and that no Israelis were allowed to enter the area. The soldier used this as justification for not allowing the internationals to enter. He went on to complain that Israelis were not able to enter the village, despite it being, as he put it, a part of “Israel”.

The activists then attempted to leave the village when the soldiers apparently changed their mind and dragged them from the bus they had boarded. No explanation was given when the activists asked why they were being detained. One of the soldiers had a more aggressive approach than the others, and was interested in discussing politics with the activists. He called them “leftist shits”, and told them “I could kill you”, before spitting at them and cursing them in Hebrew. He also told the activists that Palestinians were terrorists and that Beit Ommar was a dangerous village.

The soldiers lied and told the activists that they would be free to go if they showed them their passports, however they took this back after one of the activists showed her passport. One activist managed to escape detention and left the area, however the other two were asked to step into a military jeep when it arrived. When refusing to do this, since no reason had been given, the soldiers dragged the two activists into the jeep with force, despite them telling the soldiers that they need a female police officer to arrest them. They were taken to the commander of the force who amongst other things accused the activists of being terrorists and Syrian spies, spying on the Israeli military. After being taken to the police station in Kiryat Arba, an illegal settlement in the outskirts of Hebron, the activists were released after a few minutes without charge.

The demonstration in Beit Ommar went ahead as planned and protesters managed to successfully reach and work on the land belonging to the farmers of Beit Ommar.

June 11, 2011 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | 2 Comments

US arms sales to Bahrain rise

Press TV – June 11, 2011

The US increased its military sales to Bahrain just before Manama began its brutal crackdown on protesters in February, says a report by the US State Department.

The annual report that provides sales figures between the US weapon manufacturers and foreign governments showed a USD 112 million increase in military sales to Bahrain between 2009 and 2010, The Washington Post reported.

In total, the US government has approved USD 200 million in military sales to the Persian Gulf kingdom during this period.

Previously, the sales included military hardware for aircraft and military electronics. However, in 2010, the US government also approved the sale of USD 760,000 in rifles, shotguns and assault weapons to Bahrain.

Since the anti-government demonstrations began in mid-February this year, the Al Khalifa regime has confronted the demonstrators with armed military and police, firing live ammunition. Scores have been killed and hundreds injured.

This comes as the West has remained silent on the Al Khalifa regime’s massive crackdown on the anti-government protesters. [...]

In 2009, the first year of US President Barack Obama’s term, Washington sold an overall of USD 40 billion in military hardware to countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

This is an increase from the final year of former President George W. Bush’s term in 2008, when the US State Department approved USD 34.2 billion in military sales. – Full article

June 11, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Subjugation - Torture | 1 Comment

Janet Napolitano Visits NYU Law School to Discuss Need For Citizen Spies

“We have to get to a place where every part of our society is cognizant of the kinds of threats that are out there, and empowered to take some common sense steps to counter that.” – Janet Napolitano

Activist Post | June 9, 2011

Homeland Security head, Janet Napolitano, continued her campus tour in a recent stop at NYU Law School where she gave a speech about the state of security as we approach the 10-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, and following the announced death of Osama bin Laden.

In the video below Napolitano lays out a sweeping surveillance agenda that includes citizen spies who have a mission of “shared responsibility” to thwart “Core” al-Qaeda, foreign groups “inspired by” al-Qaeda, as well as domestic “extremist” groups, which apparently include an increasing number of plots by U.S. citizens.  She added that “there is no single portrait” of today’s potential terrorist, citing recruiting tactics “including Hip Hop videos, if you can imagine that.”  And, naturally, cyberspace. Each of the four key ways that she stated as critical to Homeland Security’s mission will widen the Stasi-style network of unpaid employees of the State virtually deputized to spy on their neighbor in the private and public sector and issue reports to the DHS federal security matrix.

  1. Strengthen the nation’s 72 fusion centers, which coordinate with local police, businesses, churches, universities and more in a cooperative effort to federalize local communities.
  2. Continue the expanded use of Suspicious Activity Reports (SAR), initially used for IRS reporting and for businesses to alert government officials to large cash purchases at their establishments.  The new initiative will cover all sectors that will share back to DHS.
  3. 3. Launch the National Terrorism Advisory System to replace the general color-coded terror alert system and set up a “base level” high risk, which will be augmented with specific messages.  One component of this new system that she does not address is that it will be directed toward the individual by utilizing a text messaging system, as well as social networks to issue government statements and warnings (or propaganda).
  4. Continue expansion of a national “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign that began with the NY Metropolitan Transit Authority, and kicked off at private businesses like Wal-Mart whereby people can receive ongoing messages via telescreens in government buildings, private businesses and public areas, then report on anyone for any reason without consequence for false reports.

She also predictably suggests that the counter-terrorism apparatus is a useful tool that can save citizens in need of rescue from natural disasters.  More likely, it is the roll-out of soft martial law that will create a permanent state of fear, suspicion, false arrests, police brutality, and the end of the American republic in the same fashion that led to the end of every society that chose the path of security over freedom.

Video and transcript

June 11, 2011 Posted by | "Hope and Change", Full Spectrum Dominance, Timeless or most popular | 3 Comments

Jordan, Israel affirm resumption of Egyptian gas supply

Palestine Information Center – 11/06/2011

AMMAN — Jordanian official sources and Hebrew media affirmed that the supply of Egyptian gas to both Jordan and Israel was renewed as of Friday night after one and half month of halt due to an explosion that targeted the pipeline in northern Sinai.

Jordanian minister of energy and mineral resources Khaled Tukan said that the natural gas supply resumed for the first time after the pipeline explosion on 27 April.

He said in a statement carried by the official Jordanian news agency Petra that the Egyptian gas supply would reach 70 million cubic feet per day within the few coming days.

For its part, the Hebrew radio said that EMG, which imports the gas from Egypt, announced resumption of the gas exports but said, ”The pressure in the pipeline will be restored to its full level gradually in the coming days”.

Egypt supplies Jordan with 80% of its needs to produce electricity while Israel depends on Egyptian gas for the production of 40% of its electricity.

June 11, 2011 Posted by | Aletho News | 1 Comment

   

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