$56.00 donated in past month
From the Open-Publishing Calendar
From the Open-Publishing Newswire
Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: Americas | International
The synchronization of genocidal state terror against Indigenous Peoples
From the US founding fathers to contemporary Brazil’s totalitarian Land Party: Capitalist and religious fundamentalism(s) were and still are the principal motors of genocide (and biocide). Soon Brazil will be in the limelight of the Football World Cup. Yet, what you will NOT see is the massacre behind the happy spectacle-sport make-up. The organized terrorism of transnational corporations, agribusiness and government against nature & man. Among them the less than a million surviving Indigenous men, women and children.
"I'm here on my ancestral land and I'm not going to let them cut sugar-cane anymore, I'm not going to let them poison Earth anymore, because the plant has rendered them enough profit. They have reaped enough."
73 year-old Guarani-Kaiowá chief Damiana of Apykai, Mato Grosso do Sul State gave vent to her feelings in an interview in Januray, 2014. Chief Damiana is a marked woman. Transnationals like Dreyfuss, Bunge and Raizen have been profiting on Indigenous Territory – partly already legally recognized, partly still awaiting legal recognition – with sugar-cane monoculture for ethanol production and export. Seven times Damiana and her people have tried to reoccupy Apykai before. And seven times they were expelled by the courts or by gunmen. Chief Damiana herself has lost six relatives in that struggle. Run over, intoxicated with pesticides, ambushed by gunmen.
Insurgent Lieutenant of Public Health Gabriela says, “I’m proud of our struggle because you can really see the improvements in our villages and because there are people from other countries who support us and because we have shown that we don’t want the power, but to fight for all marginalized people. Other revolutionaries say they would seize power, but they do nothing. But we say that we will not take the power, and organize ourselves instead. I'm proud of that.”
"From the Government? There is nothing to expect, we know it." In that Zapatista freedom fighters of the EZLN and representatives of the villages agree independently of each other. What will follow, they assure, is resistance, more self-organizing and continued rebelliousness. "We will always be..."
(Translated excerpts from the Gloria Muñoz Ramírez book “EZLN: 20 + 10 El Fuego y la Palabra”, Revista Rebeldía, 2003)
To hope is to give yourself to the future. And that commitment to the future makes the present inhabitable. It’s to bet on the future, on your desires, on the possibility that an open heart and uncertainty is better than gloom and safety. To hope is dangerous, and yet it is the opposite of fear, for to live is to risk.
(Excerpts from the Rebecca Solnit book, “Hope In The Dark”, Nation Books, 2004)
From the US founding fathers to Brazil’s totalitarian Land Party
The synchronization of genocidal state terror against Indigenous Peoples
Islamic Fundamentalism – or Threat in the Boykin-Bachmann-Romney lingo – is not the enemy of the so-called free world under snooper-bully leadership of the United States of America. It is, rather, a congenial younger rival. What explains a lot of the hatred involved. It is a newcomer that challenges and disturbs the elder fundamentalist’s monopolist dominance on the world’s power stage, since the disintegration of the grand old rival, the Soviet Union.
And the same goes for (state a/o faith) terrorism too.
Fundamentalism –“upholding the belief in the strict, literal interpretation of a scripture”, according to http://www.oxforddictionaries.com, or "a proclamation of reclaimed authority over a sacred tradition which is to be reinstated as an antidote for a society that has strayed from its cultural moorings" in the words of Jeffery Hadden and Anson Shupe (http://www.spiritualityandpractice.com/practices/features.php?id=15980) – isn’t terrorism. Yet, the former’s hermetic and rigid interpretation of things and narrow-minded to brainwashed followers prove suitable soil to the latter. Especially when the “original” fundamentalism – the religious one – gets mingled or orchestrated with open or hidden power-political objectives and/or real or imagined chronic situations of threat or oppression.
In any case, written words and sentences (laws, scriptures, manifestos, contracts, etc.) are interpreted differently and never an incontestable solution (and the clamors for the “legitimate ownership” of the Crimea peninsula is just another current example). That’s where (and why) lawyers make their money and that’s also where demagogic and hairsplitter hell constantly renews itself. What’s or who’s indeed fundamentalist (a/o terrorist, a/o democratic, etc.) or not is a never-ending minefield debate where the major task is the one not to lose one’s mind. Whether such discussion takes place in the USA, Israel, Lebanon, India (…).
Persons and organizations, however, which a century and a half after Darwin’s observations hold on to creationist (biblical) ideas, to me, are (bible) fundamentalists. And the same goes, on another even more vigorous mine and reverie field, for the race believers and clingers. Astonishing, that 27 years after the publishing of Cann, Wilson and Stoneking’s “Mitochondrial DNA and human evolution” in Nature magazine and after half a century of Cavalli-Sforza’s comprehensive works and 22 years after Kwame Anthony Appiah’s pioneering book “In My Father’s House – Africa In The Philosophy of Culture” which all proved race a scientifically meaningless concept, we still find the race term black and white in almost all constitutions of the world’s states and hear it regularly in speeches of so-called leaders breathing thus life into the objectively stillborn agendas from (fundamentalist) racist organizations.
(Fundamentalist) Websites celebrate still today the US founding fathers’ supposed righteousness and moral integrity because of their creationist belief. And they go further (backwards): “God truly has "shed His grace" on this "sweet land of liberty" more fully than on any nation in history, but these blessings are the result of the commitment of our founding fathers to God as Creator, to God's incarnate Son as redeeming Savior, and to the Bible as His inspired Word and the basis of our constitutional legal system. The tragic departure of our schools, our government, and even many of our churches and seminaries from these great principles may well lead to God's judgment instead of His blessing, unless we return soon to the God of our fathers.” (http://www.icr.org/article/creationism-americas-founding-fathers/)
Mainstream fundamentalism as the primeval mud of the USA, though, goes deeper than the founding fathers: “Calvinism came to America in the Mayflower, and Bancroft, the greatest of American historians, pronounces the Pilgrim Fathers "Calvinists in their faith according to the straightest system." John Endicott, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; John Winthrop, the second governor of that Colony; Thomas Hooker, the founder of Connecticut; John Davenport, the founder of the New Haven Colony; and Roger Williams, the founder of the Rhode Island Colony, were all Calvinists. William Penn was a disciple of the Huguenots. It is estimated that of the 3,000,000 Americans at the time of the American Revolution, 900,000 were of Scotch or Scotch-Irish origin, 600,000 were Puritan English, and 400,000 were German or Dutch Reformed. In addition to this the Episcopalians had a Calvinistic confession in their Thirty-nine Articles; and many French Huguenots also had come to this western world. Thus we see that about two-thirds of the colonial population had been trained in the school of Calvin. Never in the world's history had a nation been founded by such people as these. Furthermore these people came to America not primarily for commercial gain or advantage, but because of deep religious convictions.
At any rate it is quite generally admitted that the English, Scotch, Germans, and Dutch have been the most masterful people of Europe. Let it be especially remembered that the Puritans, who formed the great bulk of the settlers in New England, brought with them a Calvinistic Protestantism, that they were truly devoted to the doctrines.
With this background we shall not be surprised to find that the Presbyterians took a very prominent part in the American Revolution. Our own historian Bancroft says: "The Revolution of 1776, so far as it was affected by religion, was a Presbyterian measure. It was the natural outgrowth of the principles which the Presbyterianism of the Old World planted in her sons, the English Puritans, the Scotch Covenanters, the French Huguenots, the Dutch Calvinists, and the Presbyterians of Ulster."
History is eloquent in declaring that American democracy was born of Christianity and that that Christianity was Calvinism.” (http://reformed-theology.org/html/issue06/calvin.htm)
George Bancroft, “the greatest of American historians” in the above-cited fundamentalist view indeed was a man of chauvinist/expansionist/racist/ethno-centrist principles – the brand-new US American style. “As [president] Polk’s new secretary of the navy, he ordered American forces ashore to capture California during the Mexican War, thus “taking possession of the wilderness.” Although “we have got into a little war,” he euphemized, western soil naturally belonged to the United States.” (http://harvardmagazine.com/2008/05/george-bancroft-html)
And what such websites and “greatest historians” like flatterer and equator of Indigenous peoples with wilderness Bancroft meticulously do not mention, though, is the practical approach of the founding fathers’ biblical righteousness driven by their conviction (or not) of fulfilling Divine wish and determination.
All men are created equal.
A milestone sentence promulgated by Thomas Jefferson, next to George Washington the most famous of the founding fathers. (At least outside the USA.)
A hollow ringing sentence, however, when spoken by a man who might well be conceived as the political father of a tradition that led to Tricky Dicky Nixon (among many others) – when it comes to the tool of the lie in power politricks. Apart from (above mentioned) Christian (fundamentalist) sites and publications it isn’t a secret anymore that both Washington and Jefferson were slave-owners: “Jefferson owned slaves. He did not believe that all were created equal. He was a racist, incapable of rising above the thought of his time and place, and willing to profit from slave labor.” (http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/founding-fathers-and-slaveholders-72262393/?no-ist)
Yet what continues to be very well hidden, with “good” reason, is the biblical fury of such founding fathers unleashed against the Aboriginal peoples who were already in loco the heavenly chosen “sweet land of liberty” of the more recently arrived.
“Jefferson believed that if American Indians were made to adopt European-style agriculture and live in European-style towns and villages, then they would quickly "progress" from "savagery" to "civilization" and eventually be equal, in his mind, to white men. As President, Jefferson would try to make these changes a reality.
In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson wrote that the King [George III] had "endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions."
The desire for land raised the stakes of the "civilization program." [President] Jefferson suggested that if the various Indian nations could be encouraged to purchase goods on credit, they would likely fall into debt, which they could relieve through the sale of lands to the government.” (http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/american-indians)
Jefferson, the Founding Father of the USA, proved himself a grotesque liar again when it came to the Native nations (rights): “Jefferson admired Native "character" and often expressed concern for Native people. Yet, as president from 1801 to 1809, he pursued policies that eroded tribal homelands and cultures, and laid the foundation for the devastating Indian removals of the 1830s.” (http://yeoldeconsciousnessshoppe.com/art263.html)
A Jefferson contemporary on the other side was the Shawnee leader Tecumseh.
A leader who tried to resist fraud and ethnocide with peaceful means as long as he could. Before he was eventually forced into armed action by the unwavering advance in God’s will of the sons and executors of the increase and multiply doctrine.
There are decent works on this extraordinary man and his extraordinary confederation plan triggered by the expansion of the fundamentalist “civilized” although these works are not as well-known as (mis-)quotations of the Bible due to the lack of a strong lobby. A documentary film, for example: “We Shall Remain – Second Episode: Tecumseh's Vision”.
Or a fair article (http://www.nytimes.com/books/first/s/sugden-tecumseh.html): “Within the short space of Tecumseh's life the Shawnees had lost most of this land. They had been driven west from the Scioto to the Great Miami, then north into central Ohio toward the Maumee, and now their villages occupied scattered sites in Michigan and Louisiana Territories and Ohio. With their land had gone dreams of reunifying their broken tribe on the Ohio, their ancient home, along with much of their importance and independence, and part of their traditional way of life. As far as some Shawnees were concerned, the tribe's misfortunes could only mean that they had also lost the benevolence of their creator, Waashaa Monetoo. An inexhaustible tide of white settlement was forcing upon them simple but brutal options. Change, and live the American way, or retreat.
Tecumseh's visit to Chillicothe was itself but one of many protests the Shawnees had registered against the process. He was making a plea for coexistence, one of his last. He wanted the Americans to respect the right of the Indians to live and worship in peace as they wished, free from the interference of United States officials and unfriendly tongues.
A small protest this, two Shawnee voices raised in the courthouse of a growing frontier town, but it was not without significance. For Tecumseh's patience was being exhausted fast, and in just a few years he and the United States would be on a collision course. Despairing of reconciliation, the Shawnee chief would be orchestrating the most ambitious Indian resistance movement ever mounted against English-speaking peoples in North America.”
The American hero Thomas Jefferson is also a founding father of organized ethnical cleansing. From Tecumseh’s Shawnees, to Wounded Knee both in 1890 and 1973. (For the “historical rest” of US American realpolitik towards Aboriginal Peoples, following fundamentalist Jefferson’s enlightenment, see: Dee Brown, “Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee”.)
“My own vantage point in this history is that of a Canadian whose professional life has unfolded within a relatively new academic field known as Native American Studies. I write from the position of an observer outside the United States, yet very much within the American empire. Furthermore, I write with an orientation to history that takes seriously the fact that many of the earliest wars of the United States on Indian Country were also wars on Canada. A key episode in this American campaign to extinguish the Indian Country of Canada was the War of 1812, when the Shawnee leader Tecumseh was martyred in his campaign to establish, with British imperial support, a sovereign Aboriginal dominion in the interior of North America. This assault on Tecumseh and all he represented marked the consolidation of a sense of manifest destiny in the United States. This complex of conviction and belief has historically been used to justify the dispossession of Native American peoples and to advance the incorporation of large parts of Canada, Mexico, and all of Louisiana, the Oregon Territory, and Alaska into the continental heartland of the American empire.
A theme returned to frequently in these pages is the importance of the idea of manifest destiny in the rise of the United States to continental, hemispheric, and then world power. The essence of this infusion of religious conviction into public policy was that the will of God was manifest in the covenanted duty and destiny of the American people to expand their geographic, philosophical, and spiritual dominion in the world.” (Excerpt from “The American Empire and the Fourth World”, Anthony J. Hall, McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2003)
Especially the last of Hall’s cited sentences could be applied, almost word for word, onto what Western governments and media branded as Islamist (terrorist) organizations. And the summarized imperative of the whole paragraph in two (biblical) words could be: Increase and multiply!
Since planet Earth is a limited system the logic consequence of increase on one side is decrease on another or various others. The rise of divinely driven America is the reciprocal value of the multiple extermination efforts and achievements against Indigenous peoples in the first place. Something I understand as centuries-long state terrorism.
Calvinists also “founded” and “colonized” Australia. With the same “divine” inspiring, ethno-centrist to racist prejudice and genocidal ferociousness against the “heathen and idle” Aboriginal peoples and naturally rightful users of the land. Another example of centuries-long state terrorism as I see it.
What fundamentalist Protestants did not accomplish is the invasion and “colonization” of what today is called Brazil. This job was done, in the first place, by Roman Catholic Portuguese.
Yet, although these (from prior African lave-trade) multi-culturally experienced invaders are not listed under the “prime nations” of Bancroft’s personal racist system of values, they unleashed a comparable (colonial) state terrorism against African and Native American nations in order to advance their heavenly mercantilist project. With storm trooper bandeirantes (early slave- and gold-hunters) blessed by the popes, supreme opportunist-fundamentalists, wealth accumulators and hypocrites of their time, taking the lead of the anti-indigenous enterprise.
Brazil doesn’t have a George Bancroft. But a (late) Darcy Ribeiro. Who was a versatile and certainly non-fundamentalist historian (ethnologist, visionary, politician). In his 1995 book “O Povo Brasileiro – A Formação e o Sentido do Brasil” – in my opinion the most helpful work there is to come to understand Brazil – he estimates that in the year 1500 the Indigenous populations of what today is called Brazil numbered around five millions. 300 years later into the formation of Brazil they numbered 1.5 millions. (And one third of these, or half a million, were “integrated” índios.)
Although Brazil had a little less “divine determination” involved in his Catholic-Mediterranean invasion and terrorist expansion and shaping of state, compared to the far more rigid and better organized Calvinist cousins in the North, eventually an equally effective genocidal job was done through the brutal forces of insatiable greed.
Recently, however, the broad fundamentalist curve US American style, from enlightened Jefferson’s land grabbing realpolitik to the dark “Tea Party”, has been climbing the Brazilian power ladder with remarkable impetus.
The killing tide isn’t over within the fundamentalist mother land (http://www.culturalsurvival.org/publications/cultural-survival-quarterly/understanding-culture-and-language-ethnocide-native). Yet, fundamentalist mission and state-terrorism made by the USA have become globalized and are mainly turned onto the outside world now. That has also to do, apart from the imperial aspirations (and “obligations”), with the inside exploration-expansion job almost done. With the exception of Alaska maybe. See: http://sfaanews.sfaa.net/2012/08/01/american-indian-alaskan-and-hawaiian-native-and-canadian-first-nation-topical-interest-group-4/
Genocidal expansion made and carried out in Brazil, on the other hand, is literally far from over since there are still huge areas left that are not yet entirely subjugated and incorporated into the commodities monoculture and mining model adopted by Brazilian governments since the 1990s. The areas I’m speaking of are mainly legal Indigenous Territories and Nature Reserves. Above all (but not only) within the Amazon region.
Thus, like in the era of the US founding fathers, in Brazil the two diametral conceptions of land are still producing Indigenous (and non-Indigenous) victims on a daily basis.
For Indigenous people land = territory. Land-territory is a living and sacred space. A holy source-mother that gives birth to all life, looks after and feeds the children, gives rivers and mountains, soil and subsoil, is the place where the ancestors rest (and stay available for the shamans’ contacting and guiding) and is the root not only of their entire economy, but also of their culture and spirituality.
On the other side land = merchandise (+ political power, in the Brazilian case). Land-merchandise is an object that can be bought and sold. An extensive thing, inert and fallow, that must be transformed into something useful, a mechanical object to be explored in order for some to become rich(er).
Indigenous Territories, both legally recognized or still awaiting legal recognition, and Natural Parks and Reserves are thus viewed as vast inert things. Or: A chronic waste of potential riches increasingly unreasonable and awkward to Brazil’s economical and political powerful. The former because the rich always pursue the goal to get richer. The latter traditionally too corrupt and short-sighted a/o plainly incapable of industrializing or modernizing the country or, even less probable, turning it via good public education, into a vanguard scientific-technological center of the world.
Brazil’s political elites are still embedded in the thought world of the US’ founding fathers. Yet, without any enlightenment whatsoever. No surprise thus that the “awkward situation” of still having large unexplored lands-merchandise within the country is being targeted via dismantling of laws that guarantee and protect Indigenous Territories a/o the Environment at full speed since Dilma Rousseff was elected president in 2010 and aligned her originally center-left Workers Party with two big far-right players in the Brazilian contemporary power game: The agribusiness front, principal economic and genocidal force in the country that also controls the legislative federal bodies through their paid service-men in all parties (173 Senators and Congressmen officially, yet, including those who don’t reveal themselves to belong to this strongest parliamentary faction, way over double that number), and fundamentalist evangelical “parties” that have been managing to erode the Catholic stronghold Brazil. Although still world’s Catholic country nº 1 with 123 million or 65% of the population today, in 1970 Catholics made up for 92%. In the year 2000 26 million Brazilians were protestant. Today they number around 45 million. With the Pentecostals the strongest faction. (See also: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=10867 & http://www.pro-medienmagazin.de/nachrichten/detailansicht/aktuell/brasilien-empfingstlerem-draengen-katholiken-zurueck/)
Basically, Brazil is run today by a coalition of capitalist fundamentalists (local agro-entrepreneurs and transnational corporations), paramilitary agro-fascists (very much alike Terre'Blanche’s Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging and certainly ideologically close to brethren like those assembled at the Stormfront website, see: http://www.namibiansun.com/local-news/racists-hatch-boer-nation-plan-for-namibia.61832), old and new corrupt oligarchs, incompetent party bigwigs and evangelical fundamentalists (“Tea Party”-style).
Who pays the price for such concentrated ruthlessness and (social and administrative) incompetence?
All of today’s 50 million Brazilian have-nots in the first place. And inevitably all the future generations.
Former family farmers, who are being pushed into the urban shanty towns or made slave laborers on agri-business enterprises. Generally all non-white (Brazil’s majority is non-white, yet, there’s only one Afro-Brazilian senator and not one Indigenous), non-wealthy, non-Evangelical, non-heterosexual people. And last not least the remaining Indigenous peoples that so far have managed to defend their land-territory or are fighting for the legal return of part of their ancestral land.
The latter objective evermore unrealistic with president Dilma depending on her coalition partners to stay in presidential command, and hardcore “Land Party” pivots like Neri Geller, new secretary of agriculture since March 17th, and a Ministry of Justice corrupt-to-the-bone and lawbreaking when it comes to Indigenous rights. (http://campanhatupinamba.wordpress.com/tupinamba-indigenous-territory-immediate-completion-of-legal-recognition/)
This above-mentioned unofficial Brazilian “Land Party”, the ruralistas, works hand in hand (and donation for donation) with transnational corporations like Bunge, Cargill, ADM, Louis Dreyfus, Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, BASF (...) and has backing even in the Supreme Court (Judges Gilmar Mendes and Marco Aurélio de Mello) and through Brazil's Attorney General Luiz Inácio Adams.
It is a corrosive super-force that eliminates successively the healthiest principle of electoral democracies, namely the separation of powers, and transforms Brazil into an agro-fascist totalitarian – if not terrorist – state.
“The political priorities of that group of Congressmen and Senators involve the decontrol and release of protected land, Indigenous reservations and quilombola lands [legally protected and unmarketable lands in possession of the descendants of former run-away slave communities], as well as natural reserves and parks.
They also endeavor to water down rural workers rights, to give the juridical term “slave labor” [still widespread in Brazil, especially among big land owners] a new definition, to change the rules for registration of pesticides, to alter legislation that prohibits foreigners to own land close to the state borders and to renegotiate landowners debts and pardon their ecological crimes. I think the only thing that they are not yet representing is the reintroduction of night shift child labor like in 19th century England.” (Translated excerpt from the article “The Ruralista Faction – Land above all else” by Najar Tubino, http://www.cartamaior.com.br/?/Editoria/Politica/Bancada-ruralista--tudo-pela-terra/4/29182)
“[Brazil] is also the biggest user of pesticides per capita in the world, an unfortunate distinction Brazil has held since 2008. The situation inspired documentary [film] maker Silvio Tendler to produce “O Veneno Está Na Mesa” (Poison is On the Table), a film that reveals, among other things, the alarming statistic that Brazil uses 5.1 kilos (11.2 lb) of pesticide per person per year.
And besides the amount of pesticides, the situation is exacerbated by the fact that chemicals which have been banned in most other countries get dumped in Brazil due to lax legislation and intense lobbying from chemical companies”. (http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/19207-rebelling-against-massive-use-of-pesticides-brazilians-shift-to-organic-foods)
Brazilian agro-fascists, however, have found an additional utility for their massive pesticide applications (even on non-Brazilian soil like the “colonized” East of Paraguay): Remaining (= resisting) Indigenous or small farmers’ communities, surrounded by soya fields from horizon to horizon and pressured and brutalized routinely by their owners’ henchmen, are “accidentally” gassed.
Josef Mengele, after escaping from post-war Europe with Vatican help, for many years personal physician of former Paraguayan dictator Stroessner who invited the Brazilian agricultural entrepreneurs to Paraguay onto ethnically cleansed Indigenous land would be pleased. (See: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/11/12/paraguay-indigenous-group-sprayed-aerially-with-pesticides/ & http://www.ardaga.net/web-content/PDFS/Paraguayan%20Amerindians%20under%20genocidal%20pressure.pdf & http://www.culturalsurvival.org/news/protecting-our-cerrado-against-agribusiness)
The in Najar Tubino’s article cited endless “renegotiating” of the landowners’ debts is a fruitful politrickster game in order to acquire constantly more land (with the money they owe government and the people, but never have to pay). In his book “Partido da Terra” (“Land Party”), Alceu Castilho who researched 13 thousand statements of property of Brazilian politicians, came to a figure of 2.03 million hectares of land officially (no front men, no relatives and “friends” included) in their hands.
Agri-business in Brazil has long become a state within the state. Also in terms of direct land control. Yet, capitalist idol Growth constantly needs new and more offerings.
The logic “achievements”:
8 – 9 million hectares are eucalyptus and pine monocultures, the so-called “green deserts”, areas cleansed of bio and cultural diversity. Tendency: rising.
And Brazil already has the largest eucalyptus artificial forest of the world with an area that surpasses its cultivated areas of rice, coffee and beans together.
Eucalyptus giants like Aracruz intend to have the largest market share possible to add value to their shareholders (Banco Safra, Votorantim Celulose e Papel (VCP), Lorenstzen Group).
This steady and zealous strive for more has depopulated vast areas in the states Espírito Santo, Bahia and Minas Gerais and produced thousands of landless small farmers (http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/sep/26/monoculture-forests-africa-south-america).
Indigenous communities were forced to leave their lands (http://www.wrm.org.uy/oldsite/bulletin/11/Brazil.html) and live in the most miserable conditions imaginable alongside roads ever since.
Aracruz is a genocidal company (http://americasouthandnorth.wordpress.com/2012/11/12/indigenous-peoples-companies-modernity-and-racial-discourse-in-brazil/) and also one of the major election campaign contributors to many candidates and parties in the three respective states. Bahia governor Jaques Wagner, a party-colleague of president Dilma, and strong supporter and facilitator of mining and agri-business is one on their donation list.
And the next victims of this particular genocide alliance are chosen already: the Tupinambá of Southern Bahia, last defenders of Atlantic Rainforest against the Aracruz-government style “progress”.
“Projections of the Ministry of Agriculture indicate positive prospects for the Brazilian agribusiness over the next ten years. In addition to the expansion of crops and the growth of grain production, also the meat production (bovine, swine and poultry) will increase. According to the report “Projections of Agribusiness-Brazil 2012/13 to 2022/23”, released today, the industry is expected to grow 35 percent in the period.
The grain acreage is expected to expand between 8.2% and 30.3%, from 53 million hectares in 2013 to 57.3 – 69 million hectares in 2023. The total crop area will pass from 67 million hectares in 2013 to 75.5 million in 2023. This expansion is focused on soybeans, sugar cane and corn.” (Translated excerpts from: http://www.em.com.br/app/noticia/economia/2013/06/27/internas_economia,413599/relatorio-projeta-crescimento-de-35-para-agronegocio-brasileiro-nos-proximos-dez-anos.shtml)
“According to the report from ISAAA [International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications], the Brazilian GMO area totals 40.3 million hectares being second just behind the United States.
Brazil has the fastest growing GMO area, with an increase of 10% in 2013.
Between 2012 and 2013, the area with GM crops increased by 3.7 million hectares in Brazil. Proportionally, more than triple the world average, which was 3%.
According to Clive James [author of the study], Brazil will continue to lead the increase of GMO use in 2014, "closing the distance to the United States consistently". In 2013, the US had only a 1% GMO rise.”
(Translated excerpts from: http://economia.uol.com.br/agronegocio/noticias/redacao/2014/02/14/brasil-tem-2-maior-cultivo-e-producao-de-transgenicos-que-mais-cresce.htm)
“A study by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) reveals that between 1994 and 2009, the economic concentration in the agrochemicals segment, measured by index Herfindahl2, increased from 198 to 937; in the seeds segment from 171 to 991; in the agricultural machinery segment from 264 to 791; and in the animal health segment from 510 to 827.
The acquisition or bankruptcy of national seeds companies and the ‘appropriation' of Embrapa [The Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation] by companies of the so-called ' Big 6 ' (Monsanto, Dupont, Syngenta, Bayer, Dow and BASF) that control the seeds/chemistry/biotechnology worldwide, have resulted in strong genetic dependence of national agriculture.
No wonder that from 1990 to 2011, the areas planted with staple foods such as rice, beans, cassava and wheat declined, respectively, 31%, 26%, 11% and 35%. While those of classic export-oriented agribusiness products such as sugar cane and soybean increased by 122% and 107%. In the State of São Paulo, the cane area has reached 75% of the total area planted with temporary cultures and still the country faces systematic crises in supply of ethanol.
Today we have to import even beans from China. Last year we imported $ 334 million in rice, equivalent to 50% of the amount applied in farming at the national level. In the case of wheat, it was more than 100%. And the production of cassava [main nutritional source of the poorest Brazilian regions, the Northeast and the North] currently is the same as in 1990.”
(Translated excerpts from: http://www.mst.org.br/content/o-agronegocio-e-negocio-para-o-brasil)
“Brazil's soybean exports may prove even larger than expected in 2013-14, increasing the country's lead over the US. The US Department of Agriculture's Brasilia bureau pegged at a record 45.0m tonnes its forecast for the South American country's soybean exports in 2013-14. The forecast - an increase of 2.5m tonnes year on year, according to the bureau - is 2.0m tonnes higher than the official US Department of Agriculture estimate, and the forecast from the International Grains Council.” (http://www.agrimoney.com/news/hopes-rise-even-further-for-brazils-soy-exports--6408.html)
“Brazil became the world’s biggest soybean exporter last year even without fixing thousands of pot holes that bedevil its trucks, and without solving delays to load cargo onto ships lasting as long as three months.
Now the country is set to extend its lead on the U.S. by blazing a short-cut through the Amazon forest to link soybean farms in the interior to the Panama Canal and on to Asian buyers. Traders from Bunge Ltd. (BG) to Cargill Inc. are spending $2.5 billion on the project, mostly on new docks, barge fleets and terminals along the Amazon river and tributaries.
The project will become Brazil’s biggest export route for soybeans and grain. Ships will shave two days off their route by sailing west over the Pacific instead of a longer journey across the Atlantic and Indian oceans. That could undercut future prices in Chicago for the legume that’s highly demanded in China and used in everything from meat substitutes to industrial oils.
Corn and cotton also stand to benefit from the river projects. Brazil already ranks No. 2, behind the U.S., and No. 5 among global exporters of those crops. Proponents of the Amazon short-cut will have to deal with concern that it will open up new areas when roads are upgraded. Better transportation can encourage illegal logging and plantations in the world’s biggest rain forest near the river route.
“It’s worrying because new roads and infrastructure bring an occupation pressure,” Tica Minami, Amazon campaign coordinator for activist group Greenpeace, said by phone from Manaus, Brazil. Illegal deforestation can create pasture land for cattle that’s later turned into soybean farms, Minami said.
This year, the government expects to complete about 450 miles of paved roads linking the north of Mato Grosso to Miritituba, a city by the Tapajos tributary of the Amazon River. At the end of November, about 113 miles where yet to be paved, soybean growers group Aprosoja said in an e-mailed report.
Other ports in northern Brazil being prepared to load soybeans and grain from barges into Panamax vessels, which are designed to cross the Panama Canal, include Santarem and Santana. Their capacity to handle crops will likely double to 20 million tons by the end of next year and may reach 50 million tons by 2020, according to Luiz Antonio Fayet, a logistics consultant for the National Agriculture Confederation industry group in Curitiba, Brazil.
Archer-Daniels-Midland Co. (ADM), the largest exporter of soybean meal from Brazil, plans to double the size of its South American barge fleet and increase shipments from Belem to about 6 million tons in five years, from 1 million next year, Matthew J. Jansen, president of ADM’s oilseeds unit, said in a Dec. 17 phone interview from the Decatur, Illinois headquarters.
Bunge’s Unitapajos joint venture with Grupo Andre Maggi, or Amaggi, the soybean producer and trading company run by former Mato Grosso governor [and now senator] Blairo Maggi, will ship crops from Miritituba to Belem on 90 barges starting this year, the White Plains, New York-based company said in an e-mailed response to questions. (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-10/amazon-soy-route-seen-extending-brazil-lead-on-u-s-commodities.html)
All that increase & multiply success stands for the decrease and misery on other sides. As we read, for small farmers and (their) food production too. What consequently makes food ever more expensive in Brazil and thus hits predominantly the poorer parts of the population (See: http://www.radaraltovale.com/noticia/antenado/camponeses-protestam-em-frente-ao-ministerio-do-des-agrario-6413#.UyxDtc6QS3g).
And while the Greenpeace coordinator laments the transformation of the Amazon forest into first pasture and then soya land, nobody even mentions the people of the forests under destruction.
Brazil’s territorial extension is 851.196.500 hectares (8.511.965 km²).
13.3% of it are 692 legal Indigenous Territories (TIs). On paper!
Most of the TIs, 414 or 98.47% in terms of area, are concentrated within the Amazon region. The Indigenous Peoples of all “the rest” of Brazil have 1.53% of the total area of TIs. (See for numbers: http://pib.socioambiental.org/pt/c/terras-indigenas/demarcacoes/localizacao-e-extensao-das-tis)
And still the agribusiness and agro-fascist and mining factions bash and lobby against the idle (red) niggers who are standing in the way of prosperity of poor Brazilians with all too much land in their lazy hands…
And there is more to it: Agribusiness has long ceased to be the exclusive playground of big landowners and transnational corporations alone. Banks, bankers, steel and shoe magnates (…) too are pinching what they can get. Legally or not so. After all: it’s Brazil…
What all that practically means for the remaining Indigenous populations (230-250 Indigenous peoples with a total population of approximately 900.000 of which some 40% live in urban areas because of ethnical cleansing and lack of territory) and all other people “in the way” is orchestrated state terrorism (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-22784588 & http://amazonwatch.org/news/2013/0529-brazils-treatment-of-its-indigenous-people-violates-their-rights). With big landowner confederations and the “Land Party” sponsoring even paramilitary groups to defend “their” land against Indigenous “invasion” (http://www.campograndenews.com.br/rural/produtores-vao-fazer-leilao-para-contratar-segurancas-contra-invasoes) and “divine” rhetorical racist support by fundamentalist organizations and preacher-politicians spearheading this late genocidal wave in the US’ founding fathers and bandeirantes traditions.
Order & Progress, the State’s motto integrated in the national flag, has become the Brazilian way of Increase & Multiply. Increase your soya and maize and sugar cane and eucalyptus monocultures and multiply your wealth and power.
Increase on one side is decrease on another. The same inevitable logic in a closed system is valid for Brazil as it was some two-hundred years ago in the newly founded and expanding United States of America.
“…The 21st Century has brought Islamist war to America, the worst recession since the 1930s, a debt-ridden federal government, a majority-minority future, gay marriage, universal healthcare and legal weed. If you were still seething from the eruption of the 1960s, and thought that Reagan had ended all that, then the resilience of a pluralistic, multi-racial, fast-miscegenating, post-gay America, whose president looks like the future, not the past, you would indeed, at this point, be in a world-class, meshugganah, cultural panic.” (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/paperbacktheology/2013/10/the-tea-party-as-religion.html)
“Increasingly, the religious right is trying to do exactly that, intertwining Evangelical fundamentalism with unfettered capitalism — with disastrous results for the environment. Thus, American political life is increasingly dominated by Christians who reject the religious ethos, in favor of capitalist ethos.
Conservative Evangelicals are not concerned with dwindling biodiversity, the destruction of ecosystem, rampant pollution, global warming and the numerous other environmental challenges we face. Rather they, with the business community, are concerned with the bottom line. The future is irrelevant (unless we’re talking about government debt). Thus, the Biblical command to protect the environment is widely eschewed.” (http://www.policymic.com/articles/58429/5-things-religious-fundamentalists-don-t-get)
These are excerpts of articles written by Christian authors on the “Tea Party”. And while the “Tea Party” has the support of roughly 10% of the US population, their Brazilian counterpart, the ruralistas or “Land Party” and the evangelical “parties”, have arrived at the power top. Thanks mainly to presidents Lula and Dilma. Both still stupidly tagged as (center-) left by journalists and correspondents of questionable media who either lie or are damn stupid.
What the Dilma government stands for may also be underlined by two “shining” examples. Until February this year (when a new leader was voted in) the chairman of the Parliamentary Commission of Human and Minority Rights was pastor Feliciano. A figure that likes to deliver hate speeches against Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous people and suggests forced cure for homo-sexuals (See: http://www.skepticink.com/incongruentelements/2013/03/13/brazil-elects-racist-anti-gay-pastor-to-be-human-rights-boss/). Apart from backing and defending arrested pastor colleagues that claim to have resuscitated men and indeed have raped several women and are investigated for illegal drug business (See: http://www.pragmatismopolitico.com.br/2013/05/marco-feliciano-defende-pastor-estuprador.html).
And senator Blairo Maggi, a soya billionaire and one of the single-most powerful people in Brazil (http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=11756 – and that article is from 2004!) and winner of Greenpeace’s “Golden Motor-saw” for his environmental destruction records (he alone is supposed to be responsible for half of all deforestation in Brazil during the years 2003 and 2004) was elected chairman of the Parliamentary Commission of Environmental Affairs (http://vivianalt.com/tag/politica/)!
What the “soya king’s” environmental conscience and his care for the people living in and from the forests stand for, he once told an interviewer of the New York Times:
“To me, a 40 percent increase in deforestation doesn't mean anything at all, and I don't feel the slightest guilt over what we are doing here, Mr. Maggi said in an interview at his office here in Cuiabá, the capital of Mato Grosso. We're talking about an area larger than Europe that has barely been touched, so there is nothing at all to get worried about.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/09/17/world/relentless-foe-of-the-amazon-jungle-soybeans.html)
Brazilian mass media, in the hands of 11 families, is surviving by government help via debt remission, money that lacks in public hospitals and schools and transport and everything that a genuine State is supposed to stand and care for, and massive financial input by agri-business, mining and construction business, plays by the rules and obeys their multiple masters’ voice. Indigenous people only exist in such media when it comes to (racist) denigration. And the most ridiculous lies about agribusiness, repeated at random and year in year out, have indeed sunk into the Brazilian national conscience. Like: We have to support agribusiness since it is them who put our food onto the tables. While the true story is the opposite: Who feeds Brazil are those small family farmers and co-operatives that still manage to hold on to their land and produce despite agro-fascism’s advance. What agribusiness indeed feeds are industrial pig farms in China, US American cars with “bio”-fuel (“Total Brazilian ethanol exports in 2012 stood at 3.050 billion litres. Of the 2012 total, the U.S. imported 2.050 billion litres” - http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/08/brazil-sugar-ethanol-idUSL5E9C8A9S20130108) and Brazilian soil and rivers (and ultimately people) with unimaginable amounts of pesticides (prohibited in most other countries).
In the cities within or next to agribusiness’ vast monocultures food is most expensive in the national context. Since nothing is being produced there but commodities. And food has to come a long way…
Indigenous people of/within Brazil (and their sympathizers and supporters) are deceived, defrauded, bribed, corrupted (the Brazilian Oglala Lakota Richard Wilsons are plenty!), pressured, threatened, persecuted, gassed, beaten up, starved, deprived of medicine, driven out, enslaved, raped, sold into prostitution and – last not least – killed. (Especially but not only when the before-mentioned means proved unfruitful.) With Federal Police and the Ministry of Justice not seldom in the role of perpetrators, instead defenders of the terrorized. (See: http://mobilizacaonacionalindigena.wordpress.com/ & http://www.cimi.org.br/site/pt-br/?system=news&action=read&id=7356 & http://www.indymediascotland.org/gd/node/18699)
This endemic situation of lawlessness when it comes to basic human rights of Brazil’s Aboriginal peoples has already resulted in appeals and sentences of International Courts. In July 2011, for example, the Inter-American Court for Human Rights (of the OAS) requested that “the State of Brazil immediately suspend the licensing process for the Belo Monte Hydroelectric Plant project and stop any construction work from moving forward until certain minimum conditions are met. The IACHR requested that the State: 1) Adopt measures to protect the lives, health, and physical integrity of the members of the Xingu Basin indigenous communities in voluntary isolation and to protect the cultural integrity of those communities, including effective actions to implement and execute the legal/formal measures that already exist, as well as to design and implement specific measures to mitigate the effects the construction of the Belo Monte dam will have on the territory and life of these communities in isolation; 2) Adopt measures to protect the health of the members of the Xingu Basin indigenous communities affected by the Belo Monte project, including (a) accelerating the finalization and implementation of the Integrated Program on Indigenous Health for the UHE Belo Monte region, and (b) designing and effectively implementing the recently stated plans and programs that had been specifically ordered by the FUNAI in Technical Opinion 21/09; and 3) Guarantee that the processes still pending to regularize the ancestral lands of the Xingu Basin indigenous peoples will be finalized soon, and adopt effective measures to protect those ancestral lands against intrusion and occupation by non-indigenous people and against the exploitation or deterioration of their natural resources. Moreover, the IACHR decided that the debate between the parties on prior consultation and informed consent with regard to the Belo Monte project has turned into a discussion on the merits of the matter, which goes beyond the scope of precautionary measures.” (http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/indigenous/protection/precautionary.asp)
The State of Brazil did not stop the construction. Nor did it bother to even consider the International Court’s requests. What the Foreign Ministry did was a) stating its “perplexity” about the Court’s “unjust and precipitated requests” and b) repeating the same old lies that “the Indigenous communities were properly consulted” before construction start. (http://www.itamaraty.gov.br/sala-de-imprensa/notas-a-imprensa/solicitacao-da-comissao-interamericana-de-direitos-humanos-cidh-da-oea)
The perplexity and unhidden anger of Brazil’s leaders are understandable. It is endemic routine and centuries long tradition that the powerful disrespect and break laws whenever they feel like it and without having to fear any juridical consequences. What they are not used to is interference (disturbance) and media attention on their everyday crimes. That’s one thing that has changed since the founding fathers’ days. (And that’s why I decided to write this article.)
If somebody outside Brazil (and without reliable personal contacts in the country) is eager to get a truthful and thus genuine overview on the state of the Brazilian State (and things in general) there are three reliable sources: Amnesty International (http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/annual-report-brazil-2013?page=show) and Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org/world-report/2014/country-chapters/brazil) and Transparency International (http://www.transparency.org/country#BRA). If you read their reports you get a first picture.
But only if you live here, Indigenous or not, on the receiving end of the Brazilian State, driven firmly by capitalist a/o evangelical fundamentalists and terrorists, you will truly understand what it means to live a never-ending and often lethal nightmare.
Although the Pykobcatjê (called Gavião by Brazilians) of Western Maranhão, a Jê-People that adopted me, a relative from far away shores, are not in the worst situation in this dire national Indigenous context, I still choose to conclude this report by conveying a few of the “events” that deeply affect my people. “Events”, that is, paradigmatic for all Indigenous peoples in Brazil.
Our ancestral land is a biological transition zone. Partly Amazon rainforest, partly bushy grassland with smalls trees (Cerrado). It was once a rich hunting ground.
In the middle of the last century our people almost disappeared. We were down to a hundred and fifty men, women and children.
Before that the Pykobcatjê had fought and resisted the waves of cattle owner and slave-hunter invasions for generations and were considered the fiercest warriors of the region.
Yet, with the foundation of the city of Imperatriz in 1852 much of our ancestral land was definitely lost and we had to accept so-called “pacification” and retreated and regrouped.
But in the 1950s a second much bigger wave of invasion started after Brazilian president Juscelino Kubitschek announced the construction of a Brasília-Belém motorway. Land-merchandise – our ancestral land-territory! – soared in price and many big landowners from the south of Bahia, Minas Gerais and São Paulo started to arrive. They and their gunmen gangs pushed out the small subsistence farmers who in turn were on the run and looking for alternative land. Many of them thus again occupied other parts of our still virgin and rapidly dwindling ancestral land and hunting grounds.
Yet that was not the end of that new status quo. Since during the following two decades more and more Brazilian Southerners arrived and expelled the small farmers again from the land they had occupied in our Territory just a generation before. That was the time when we were down to less than 150 people. Due to clashes, assassinations, yet mainly through the invisible agents of invasion: viruses.
In 1976 one of the big landowners ordered to burn down one of our three villages, Rubiácea, and threatened with death everybody who dared to come back.
And the State of Brazil did nothing about it all. 1976! The year Vietnam was reunited after decades of terror from colonial a/o imperial powers. Six years after Brazil captivated the world with their third World Cup Title in Mexico under Pelé’s direction. Seven years after man stepped onto the moon. 15 years after the founding of Amnesty International…
Only in 1982 Brazilian government conceded us a legal Indigenous Territory called “Governador”, some 120 km to the west of Imperatriz. Its less than 42 thousand hectares, however, were not enough for the then roughly 250 men, women and children in order to continue to live their traditional life-style and culture.
Imagine today, with around 500 Pykobcatjê plus maybe 200 Guajajara we allowed onto our Territory since they asked us and had no place to go…
And that isn’t half the story. Although the Indigenous Territory Governador is having the force of the law, that doesn’t mean much in Brazilian reality. A so-called frontier city of 50.000, Amarante do Maranhão, is only 15 km away and who doesn’t have a government job or a store or a bar makes his living either as a cattle raiser or in wood-processing. It occurs frequently that they move their cattle onto our territory, that they burn parts of our territory (so that fresh grass may spring up, that they remove the markers of our territory in order to gain a little more, and all the wood that industry processes in Amarante is stolen from our land. Night by night, with powerful motor-saws, huge trucks, gunmen, year after year. What not only destroys our land-territory but also empties it of all game and contributes to hunger a/o “civilization diseases” like diabetes, before unknown among us, as we have to fill the nutrition gap with the bad food of the destroyer civilization. Paying in the stores of our enemies for food that makes us ill.
Even our water isn’t what is was before. Since cattle breeding and agriculture with pesticides around our territory pollute the creeks.
The Brazilian State? The “authorities”?
Remember what you read, remember what the Zapatistas and Indigenous village chiefs of Chiapas said? There is nothing to expect from the State.
Huge sums of public money are channeled from the Federal Government to Indigenous Health Service. Year after year. Yet nothing ever arrives. In none of our five villages we have a kind of health infra-structure or access to medicine or a doctor. The Indigenous health service cars and ambulances are either always broken or used by unauthorized (yet protected) persons in town to make pleasure rides. And our people die without any form of assistance. Because all that fancy support stuff that only exists on government papers. And never in our reality.
Indigenous schools? No schools. Our children must endure sometimes racist treatment in the anti-indigenous ethno-centrist schools in town. And become estranged to their own culture on purpose. And bring home with them corrosive behavior like drug use and feeling ashamed of what they are.
Water suitable for human consumption? Nothing like that. Diarrhea and fever among small children and the elderly are common place. Thanks to the civilization that surrounds us. Government duty to provide for drinking water? On paper. Only on paper. And we lack the money to buy tools to at least dig wells on our own.
And year after year we contact the “authorities” and ask them to act. And year after year we hear the same empty promises and lies.
But we have learned. The hard way. If you are well-behaved and peaceful to ruthless and false people they take that for weakness.
We thus took things into our own hands last year. And stopped a truck convoy loaded with noble wood stolen from our territory at dawn before they managed leave our land. That brought us at the brink of war with the Brazilian people from Amarante. Who consider it their right to take what they want from us savages. And do what they want with us. Beat us (when they manage to surprise one of us alone), threaten us, boycotting us (not selling goods to us anymore).
Yet, we woke up. We are not afraid and not so naïve anymore. And we have a history of braveness. We will not die “educated” and let them steal everything from us. Yet we do really need outside support. In order to stand a chance in the long run.
This text was elaborated among a group of us, from the Vila Nova village, a few months ago. While our chief Ubirajara was still in a public hospital in Imperatriz, recovering from the amputation of his big toe. He was first denied treatment in the Amarante hospital and then so badly treated – retaliation for our stance against illegal loggers? – that he almost died. Only with outside help we managed to get him to a hospital at Imperatriz, 120 km of rough roads away. There chief Ubirajara was always guarded by some of us in order to make sure real treatment was given.
Ubirajara is diabetic (because of the bad food diet we have been forced to adopt), yet there is no medicine available for us. That is why he almost lost his life in the first place. Or, in simple English: Because for the Indigenous peoples in Brazil nothing de facto exists what characterizes a genuine Democratic State under the Rule of Law and basic Human Rights.
Huup-té Dschaam Dscheu
Activist and Tuxauá
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.
(Beginning of the poem “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou)