Activists Invade Stora Enso Plantation in Brazil

March 5, 2008 - Stora Enso said that on March 4 its plantation in the southern Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul was invaded by about 800 activists, most of whom were women.

The AP reported that police used rubber bullets and tear gas to remove the protesters.

The occupation was said to be part of a series of actions planned against the agricultural sector within the days leading up to International Women's Day.

"Planting this green desert in the border zone is crime against our country, against the pampas ecosystem and against the food sovereignty of the state," the group, known as Via Campesina, said in a statement.

The protesters accused Stora Enso of operating illegally in the region claiming that Brazilian law forbids foreign companies from owning land within 150 kilometres of the country's borders.

Stora Enso said it has been purchasing lands in the border zone of Brazil.

"According to Brazilian law this land may be purchased and owned by foreign companies, but there is a specific approval process for foreign entities. Until this approval procedure is completed and to protect Stora Enso's land acquisitions, a Brazilian-owned company, Azenglever Agropecuaria Ltd. was formed to hold the land until proper authorization is given. The company is registered to the company register in Brazil. All the relevant authorities were informed about this temporary arrangement," Stora Enso said in a statement.

Stora Enso said it notified the court of the invasion and requested authorities to take legal actions in order to remove the invaders in a peaceful way.

SOURCE: Stora Enso and Associated Press (AP)

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