[03-18-10] Armed Security Force of Fibria (Aracruz) Kills Local Villager in Bahia

From: Sócio-Environmental Fórum of the Extreme South of Bahia and the Alert against the Green Desert Network With this statement, we express our enormous outrage about the death of 24-years old Henrique Souza Pereira, who was killed on 16 March 2010. According to Fibria´s press release (Fibria is the former Aracruz Celulose and partner of Stora Enso in the Veracel Celulose company), a team of GARRA, the private ‘security’ company of Fibria, shot Henrique, alleging that he was stealing wood and ‘acting aggressively’ when he was requested to leave an area with eucalyptus trees. But the father of Henrique, Osvaldo Pereira Bezerra, declared in an interview with a local newspaper, he was accompanying Henrique on a motorcycle going home when the conflict happened. During the incident, the security force broke the arm of Henrique’s father. After having shot Henrique, the security force left the area and returned only after 40 minutes, accompanied by an ambulance. Henrique did die of his wounds. We want to express our solidarity with the family of Henrique and with his community. It is worthwhile to remember that Henrique de Souza Pereira was one of the innumerous neighbors of the extensive eucalyptus areas who are trying to survive, fenced inside small properties. Another murder, happened in 2007 when Antônio Joaquim dos Santos, geraizeiro[1], was killed by the Security force of V&M Florestal when he was collecting firewood in an area with eucalyptus from V&M Florestal. It is noteworthy that both V&M Florestal[2] as well Fibria had at the moment that these incidents happened the international FSC certificate that affirms to the consumer that the production comes from a “socially just forest management”. What attracts our attention and causes our indignation is that one more time a local inhabitant has to die while the authorities, with public funds from the BNDES[3] continue promoting the expansion of the eucalyptus monoculture, transferring impudently public money to transnational mega-companies such as Fibria and Stora Enso. At the same time, the same authorities do not implement agrarian land reform and the demarcation of quilombola[4], indigenous, peasant and geraizeira lands. Acting so, the authorities are contributing with the unlimited ‘hunger’ of these corporations for more lands and profits. Fibria alone occupies an area of more than 1 million hectares in the country! In its press release about the death of Henrique, Fibria does not reflect at all why families, in order to survive, collect firewood and wood from its lands. On the contrary, it is incredible that the company affirms: “At the same time, Fibria would like to express its concern to the state authorities about the increase of stealing of wood in the south of Bahia. This creates the risk of conflicts and loss of lives as the fact that happened. This not only affects Fibria´s activities, but also the activities of other companies operating in the region. Measures to restrain these illegal practices are urgently needed, so that security conditions can be established to the population and an environment can be assured that makes activities of the companies and the social and economic development of the region possible”. In the face of what happened, one may ask: what is this social and economic development that destroys the life of local inhabitants?? That ignores the rights of communities and destroys the hope of the people? It is unacceptable that a company with these practices can obtain supposed ‘sustainability’ seals such as FSC and Cerflor, besides the many ‘sustainability ratings’. At this very moment, we recall that in the Extreme South of Bahia and in the north of Espirito Santo, tens of local people, landless workers and especially quilombolas are being criminalized and persecuted, supposedly because of ‘stealing’ wood of the company from lands that have always belonged collectively to these communities and that always guaranteed their subsistence. On November 11, 2009, the state government of Espirito Santo carried out in the quilombola community of São Domingos a big police action with 130 armed police men with rifles and sub-machine guns, dogs and horses, arresting 39 quilombolas. But the authorities are not capable to guarantee agrarian land reform and the effective and immediate demarcation of the quilombola, geraizeiro, indigenous and peasants lands. Only giving back the lands to the legal owners and to those who really needs to work on it, it is possible to make an end to the conflicts. And finally, we demand a rigorous investigation and punishment of the guilty for the facts and that not only GARRA but also Fibria be held responsible for the regrettable death of Henrique de Souza Pereira. March 23, 2010 ________________________________________ [1] Geraizeiro is a traditional inhabitant of the cerrado region in the North of Minas Gerais [2] V&M Florestal decided not to maintain its FSC-certificate after this fact [3] BNDES – National Social and Economic Development Bank [4] Quilombolas are a traditional population of black Brazilians who run away from slavery and set up free communities. They have constitutional rights to their lands.