The Brazilian Network against the Green Desert

Jun 16, 2004

Dear Friends, The Brazilian Network against the Green Desert is requesting our urgent support. On 23 May, while a field trip was in process for FSC certification of 170,000 hectares of tree plantations belonging to the "Bahia Sul Celulose" company -being carried out by IMAFLORA/Smartwood- approximately 100 families from the Movement of Rural Landless Workers (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra - MST) occupied Bahia Sul lands in the municipality of Conceição da Barra, in the proximity of the São João estate. São João is an agricultural estate that contains abandoned plantations of a type of palm tree and is practically surrounded by eucalyptus plantations belonging to Bahia Sul Celulose. Bahia Sul is trying to purchase or to rent the lands of this estate to plant more eucalyptus trees. The occupation by MST was aimed at stopping the company from planting more eucalyptus and to try to obtain a declaration that the São João estate is presently not producing anything, thus enabling the Agrarian Reform Institute (INCRA) to acquire these lands and to grant them to MST families. In order to avoid confrontations with the company and the police, after a week of occupation of an area of Bahia Sul plantations, the MST decided to camp in a settlement belonging to the organization, located 1 kilometre away from the São João estate. However, they state that they will not allow eucalyptus to be planted in São João, and that the action will be continued until the estate can be used by landless families. They are requesting us to send the model letter we are attaching -by e-mail and by fax- to the Brazilian Ministry for Agrarian Development and to the President of the Agrarian Reform Institute (INCRA) stating our support to MST's struggle. This is a struggle for agrarian reform, for the production of food, for dignity and for the life of those excluded in Brazil, instead of more monoculture tree plantations for the production of disposable paper for consumption in Europe and the United States. Please send copy of your letters to MST - ES ( ). Thank you so much for your support! ******************************* MODEL LETTER ******************************* To the Minister of Agrarian Development Miguel Rossetto Fax + 55 61 3220492 or Email: To President of the INCRA Mr. Rolf Hackbart Email: , Dear Sir, Since 23 May of this year, some 100 families of the Movement of Rural Landless Workers (MST) have put up an encampment at the settlement Paulo Vinhas, very close to the São João estate, a farm with an area of 1,100 hectares of not productive land, in the municipality of Conceição da Barra. These families struggle for a more equitable land distribution and an improvement in life quality, in order to prevent them from being forced to leave the countryside and join the ranks of the unemployed and other people that live below the poverty line in Brazil. These workers, who struggle for the right to livelihood and dignity, are facing the "hunger" for more land of eucalyptus monoculture plantation companies such as Aracruz Celulose, Bahia Sul Celulose/Suzano and Veracel Celulose. The planted eucalyptus are mostly aimed at the production of disposable paper, especially in North America and in Europe. In the region of the São João estate, the company Bahia Sul Celulose is little by little taking possession of more lands and also intends to occupy the São João estate, diminishing in this way, the chances for land reform in a region with thousands of landless families, and with the presence of Afrobrazilian rural communities that try to recover their lands, occupied by eucalyptus plantations. It is worthwhile mentioning that in the municipality of Conceição da Barra almost 70% of the territory is already occupied by eucalyptus companies. We urge you to ensure that the INCRA carries out an inspection of the São João estate as soon as possible and that it takes possession of the area, so that the land can be used for land reform. We defend the land reform and food production for the Brazilian people, and not the unlimited expansion of eucalyptus. Yours sincerely, _______________________________________________ World Rainforest Movement International Secretariat