Press release from Via Campesina (4 March 2008):
This Tuesday, 4 March, around 900 women of the Via Campesina occupied the Tarumã Farm, 2,100 hectares big, in the municipality of Rosário do Sul, at about 400 km from the state capital Porto Alegre. They arrived at the area at about 6 am and started immediately to cut down eucalyptus trees and to plant native trees seedlings. In a press release, the women declare that:
“Our action is legitimate. It is Stora Enso that is acting illegally. Planting this green desert in the border region is a crime against the legislation of our country, against the ‘pampa’ (type of grassland) biome and against the food sovereignty of our state that stays with every time less land to produce food crops. We are cutting what is bad and planting what is good for the environment and for the people of Rio Grande do Sul”.
Multinational is acting illegally in Brazil
The Stora Enso company is a Swedish Finnish company and according to the Brazilian legislation (law nr. 6.634 from 1979; and Article 20, par. 2 from the Brazilian Constitution) foreigners are not allowed to buy lands in an area of 150 km from the Brazilian border with other countries. But this multinational is buying tens of areas in Rio Grande do Sul close to the border with Uruguay where the company also has plantations. The aim is to form a plantation area of more than 100 thousand hectares and implement pulp mills in the region.
Initially Stora Enso acquired lands in the name of the Derflin Company, a company linked to Stora Enso with the task of buying raw materials for the company. Once Derflin is also a foreign company, it was not able to legalize the lands. Therefore Stora Enso created a supposed company: the ‘Agropecuária Azenglever’, property of two Brazilians: João Fernando Borges and Otávio Pontes (respectively forest director and vice-president of Stora Enso for Latin America). At present, these two people are the biggest landowners in the Rio Grande do Sul state.
About 50 farms, totalizing 45 thousand hectares, are already registered in the name of Agropecuária Azenglever. Among these areas area the Tarumã farm, occupied by the women. There is a federal police investigation going on to investigate this crime of Stora Enso, but in the meanwhile Stora Enso is acting freely.
List of demands
– To cancel the acquisition of lands realized by Stora Enso in the border region and expropriation of these areas for land reform. Considering just the 45 thousand hectares which have been registered by Azenglever, 2,250 families could be settled, creating 6,750 direct jobs. At present 2,500 families are living in tent camps in Rio Grande do Sul and the responsible state agency (INCRA) affirms that they do not have lands to create new settlements.
– To withdraw the law proposals in the Senate and the Parliament which propose the reduction of the border region (in which foreigners are forbidden to buy lands). According to the women, this measure will only benefit foreign companies such as Stora Enso.
With this action, the National Campaign of Struggles of the Women of the Via Campesina against the Agrobusiness and in Favor of the Food Sovereignty has started in Rio Grande do Sul. The Via Campesina is an international articulation of rural organizations. In Brazil the members of the Via Campesina are also social rural movements. The majority of the women who participate in this action in the Stora Enso area are from tent camps and settlements of the MST – Movement of the Rural Landless – in Rio Grande do Sul.
Press Department of the Via Campesina