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Brazilian farm workers invade tree farms

March 9, 2007 - About 500 farm workers protesting alleged environmental damage by Brazilian and Finnish paper companies invaded plantations they said were creating a "green desert" in southern Brazil by blanketing the landscape with eucalyptus trees, it was reported by the Associated Press

According to the AP news story, the protesters, mostly women from the Brazilian branch of the Via Campesina farm workers rights group, on March 6 occupied two plantations owned by Finland's Stora Enso Oyj and another owned by Brazil's Votorantim Celulose e Papel, Rio Grande do Sul state police Colonel Paulo Roberto Mendes told reporters.

Another plantation owned by an independent producer who is negotiating a partnership with Aracruz Celulose also was invaded in the pre-dawn raids on Tuesday in Rio Grande do Sul.

Via Campesina said in a statement that some 1,300 women participated in Tuesday's invasions, aimed at denouncing the social and environmental impact of the growing "green desert" created by the paper companies in Latin America's largest country. Via Campesina also wanted to promote agrarian reform.

Cellulose companies tend to cut down native forest and replant trees such as eucalyptus and pine which are easy to harvest, but environmentalists say monocultures reduce biodiversity and harm the environment.

Police evicted the protesters from the Stora Enso plantations and were awaiting court orders to evict the protesters from the other lands, Mendes said.

The invasions were peaceful and did not damage the plantations, Mendes said.

SOURCE: AP




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