Police repress peasant women to protect Swedish-Finnish company Stora Enso’s illegal plantations

Posted: 7 March 2008 in Brazil, Resistance, Stora Enso

From World Rainforest Movement:

The Swedish-Finnish company, Stora Enso has purchased land and established eucalyptus plantations in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, along the area bordering Uruguay. This fact implies that the company has acted illegally, violating legal provisions which ban the acquisition of land by foreigners within a 150 km strip along frontier zones bordering a neighbouring country.

To denounce this situation, in the framework of International Women’s Day, on 4 March 900 women members of Via Campesina occupied a 2000 hectare plot belonging to Stora Enso, located within this frontier strip. The purpose of the occupation was to denounce illegal appropriation of Brazilian territory to establish agribusiness and monoculture plantations and to defend food sovereignty.

Repression quickly followed in the form of a contingent of a Military Police Brigade, under orders from the Governor of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Yeda Crusius. They did not spare blows, humiliation, destruction and even imprisonment. Eight hundred women were arrested and separated from their small children that were made to lie on the ground with their hands behind their heads. Over 50 women are injured. The camps were destroyed and their work tools confiscated.

The speed of the Government of Rio Grande’s reaction in support of Stora Enso is mainly explained by the fact that the electoral campaign of the present governor was partly funded (according to official data from the Higher Electoral Court) by the pulp companies Aracruz, Votorantim and … Stora Enso. Favours have to be paid, including repression and criminalization of women and children who are struggling for food sovereignty for present and future generations.

The World Rainforest Movement condemns this violent State action carried out in partnership with Stora Enso and expresses its solidarity with the women of Via Campesina who, as they themselves state, carry with them the “energy and courage of thousands of peasant women who, all over the world, are struggling against the commodification of nature and life.”

We invite those who wish to express their condemnation, to do so by sending a letter to Governor Yeda Crusius. Her e-mail is gabinete-governadora(AT)gg[dot]rs[dot]gov[dot]br (We attach a model letter that can be used for this purpose).

To express solidarity towards the women of Via Campesina, you can write to them at the following address: mstrs(AT)mst[dot]org[dot]br

***********
Model letter
***********

Dear Madam,

I would like to convey you my condemnation of the violent action recently carried out by the State in alliance with the Swedish-Finnish company, Stora Enso and to express my support to the women of Via Campesina who were violently repressed for denouncing the illegal appropriation of Brazilian territory to establish agribusiness and monoculture plantations, and for defending food sovereignty.

I condemn the fact that a contingent of the Military Brigade, following your orders, has hit, humiliated and arrested women and children who were demonstrating against the “commodification of nature and life” in the State of Rio Grande do Sul.

I condemn the fact that peaceful actions aimed at denouncing the illegal acquisition of land by foreign companies and at defending food sovereignty for present and future generations is criminalized.

I look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

SIGNATURE

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