The equivalent of 987,500 football fields of Amazon Rainforest have been destroyed over the last few years in Brazil

 

Isolated Amazon indigenous people. Photo taken by author.

60 million to 200 million indigenous people are almost wholly dependent on forests, these indigenous forest communities live in the world’s last remaining forests which are critically endangered as the equivalent of 987,500 football fields of Amazon Rainforest have been destroyed over the last few years in Brazil.

These indigenous forest communities are facing ecocide and they are key to the protection of the Amazon rainforest and climate balance. There are at least 80 indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest still living in complete isolation from the outside world. Human contact would be detrimental to their very existence, they are the most vulnerable communities since they have no resistance to disease and would be wiped out upon first contact with people from the outside world. We must respect their way of life and leave them in peace and protect them from gold and oil miners.

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI), Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC) and WRI  Report found that Indigenous Peoples and local forest communities manage at least 54,546 million metric tons of carbon (Mt C) in the tropical forests they live in globally, or just under one-quarter of the total carbon found above ground in the global tropics.

Indigenous Peoples and local communities manage at least 24 percent of the total carbon stored aboveground in the world’s tropical forests, or 54,546 million metric tons
of carbon (MtC), a sum greater than 250 times the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global air travel.

There is a deeply intrinsic relationship between the health of the Amazon rainforest and the health of the planet. Rainforests  contain 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, not just in the tree trunks but also stored in the soil below, this helps stabilise local and global climate. Deforestation, oil extraction and mining activities releases significant amounts of this locked carbon, which is having catastrophic consequences on the climate around the world.

The Rights and Resources Initiative offers Amazon forest and global governments to consider  improving protection of deforestation and forest degradation pressures, to enhance local livelihoods, tropical country governments and the international community should:

• Support the efforts of forest peoples’ organisations to document and secure their collective forest
rights by scaling up dedicated funding streams and technical assistance;

• Make Indigenous Peoples and local communities part of the climate solution by incorporating
community-based actions in Nationally Determined Contributions;

• Develop/adopt institutional safeguards that significantly increase the voice and contributions of
forest peoples in the design and implementation priority actions to conserve/enhance forest carbon stocks and non-carbon benefits.

The Amazon rainforest is the worlds largest biodiversity rich biome containing more than half the worlds 10 million animal and plant species, with green capital preservation we can emphasize the immense value of the rainforest and its contribution to the planet.

The Amazon rainforest contains:

One in ten known species on Earth
1.4 billion acres of dense forests, half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests.
4,100 miles of winding fresh water rivers.
2.6 million square miles in the Amazon basin, about 40 percent of South America.

We are at a critical time where global governments, rainforest conservation groups and non-governmental organisations need to reinforce protection of environmental laws for Indigenous people’s defence treaties for the last remaining Amazon rainforests on the Earth.  After spending fifteen years working on conservation projects  with indigenous people in the Amazon, their challenges involve dealing with many front line issues that the largest established charities, governments and academic institutes know very little about. One common example in the Amazonia regions of South America, is the ongoing internalised governmental corruption where some government affiliated corporations provide finances and arms to military and vigilante groups to attack and continually persecute indigenous environmental activist leaders and to drive indigenous people forcefully off of their land.  This is why there is an exponential rise of murders of Indigenous environmental activists every year.

One such story I learned in 2012 at Shell airport waiting to fly deep into the Amazon, here I met with Cristina Gualinga. Cristina is from the Kichwar Sarayaku territory in the Ecuadorian Amazon. The Sarayaku community were subject to violent force to remove them from their ancestral land by illegal invasion of oil companies and their government sponsored military soldiers. Cristina Gualinga and many in her Sarayaku community are life long activists against oil exploitation, after they were subject to brutal expulsion from their territory and Cristina witnessed systematic destruction of her ancestral lands for an oil pipeline, there is a documentary about the Sarayaku’s experience called The Children of the Jaguar.

Governments who are included in the Amazon Basin region countries must collaborate with international conservation organisations and governments from all global countries to step up protection through reinforcement of environmental laws and indigenous peoples rights and powers to indigenous leaders of key communities who are our environmental protectors of the Amazon.

The international governments have a responsibility to the conservation of the planet and especially the Amazon rainforest  and should be providing reinforced prosecution for indigenous communities threatened by oil extraction, hydrodam building or gold mining and every other activity that is rapidly causing ecocide in the Amazon rainforest.

The above map shows the amount of industrial activity in the Amazon and the red crosses show the amount of indigenous people assassinated due to conflicts over rainforest that they are fighting to protect.

Between August 2017 and July 2018 some 7,900 square kilometres of forest were logged in the Brazilian Amazon. In addition to the ongoing illegal logging and goldmines, in 2019  over 7,200 square miles of the Brazilian rainforest  burned—an aggregated area nearly the size of New Jersey. The worst annual rate of deforestation in a decade, according to official government data. This represents an increase of 14 percent over the same period last year.

Greenpeace Brazil pointed out, approximately 1,185 million trees were felled in an area equivalent to the size of 987,500 football fields.

The above graph from Global Witness report ”At What Cost” shows Brazil has the highest rate of environmental defenders being killed than any other country in the world.

Meanwhile, Jair Bolsonaro ignores invitations towards implementing and reinforcing conservation action by other Amazon countries and he encourages persecution of indigenous people, conveniently overlooking the continued murders of Amazon protectors and environmental campaigners, further accelerating the destruction of the Brazilian Amazon, last year many of the raging fires which raged through the Brazilian Amazon were a result of arson as a preliminary measure to clear forest for oil drilling and illegal gold mining in indigenous territories that should be protected areas of the Amazon. Bolsonaro has publicly declared his hatred of indigenous communities, specifically the Kawahivas people who are on the edge of extinction, his promise to corporate interests are to continue to open more the Amazon to the development of the mining and  timber industries.

Global Witness’s latest annual data into violence against land and environmental defenders shows a rise in the number of women and men killed over the last few years to 207 in Brazil especially. What’s more, Global Witness’s research has highlighted agribusiness including coffee, palm oil and banana plantations as the industry most associated with these attacks.

Therefore, corporate sponsored murders of indigenous environmental protectors are conveniently overlooked, increasing the kidnappings, torture and assassination of  key environmentalists. Consequently, illegal mining and logging activities are rising with corporate land grabs and violations of indigenous people’s rights to critical escalation Brazil and other countries that the Amazon basin covers, Ecuador, Peru and Colombia.

The Amazon rainforest is deadlier than ever for land and environmental defenders, with mining and oil industries and agribusiness, these industries are the most linked to murder of environmentalists and indigenous rainforest activists.

Many indigenous communities live solely off of the land, many live in isolated regions that are difficult to access, they are adept at survival from the bounty of nature and in tune with the spiritual elements that come with their connection and close relationship with nature, therefore most of these communities are not  in need of money or the materialistic  way of living that Westerners are used to, and this goes in their favour to be the world’s best and most trusted conservationists. Their lives depend on the preservation and conservation of their ancestral land, not on money. Their connection with the environment is not just dependent on daily living, it is part of their spiritual ancestry, their spiritual ecology, part of their souls and beating hearts. This is what we have forgotten in Western civilisation.

For these reasons, Indigenous people are the best conservationists to manage and conserve the forests and last great wildernesses, as their immediate survival depends on the land and they are attuned to the environment around them, because of this, they are also the most vulnerable when it comes to ecocide, their cultures and survival is ultimately threatened. Read  previous article People on the Edge of Extinction-The Last Tribes of the Amazon

There are indigenous conservation treaty recommendations supported by many Indian and Alaskan Native organisations. A recent convention set up by the Indigenous peoples of all the Americas allowed them to form sixteen principles for building a sustainable and harmonious world community.

These principles are rooted in the concerns of hundreds of Indigenous Elders, Spiritual Leaders and Community Members, they are also rooted in deep ecology values, they recognise the interconnection of all life on Earth and how we affect one another and the Earth with our actions. They recognise how humans must work on internal balance to create external balance and a sustainable world. They recognise the importance of morals, and ethics in communities. These guiding principles constitute the foundation for the process of healing and developing ourselves (mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually), our human relationships (personal, social, political, economic, and cultural) and our relationship with Mother Earth.

The senseless annihilation of the Earth’s last rainforests is part of an ecosystem, not only providing vital equilibrium for the climate but also plant medicines and foods and resources everyone takes for granted. Corporate ecocide has to stop along with the global unfolding ecocide of other ancient wildernesses where our great indigenous people remain.

All this senseless destruction of the Amazon rainforest, is for logging, gold, hydrodams and mostly for petroleum oil, the black life blood of Pacha Mama, Mother Earth, these resources are valued over human life and over the most essential biome of the Amazon rainforest, a major oxygen producer for all life on planet Earth. How many of us have to suffer and to what limit of destruction will this planet be pushed to, before we realise human consciousness is now an ecological issue? Humanity is a threat to itself unless we change the way we live on this planet, we have to live with nature, not separate from her, we are our environment, we are nature. Meanwhile there are solutions that we at Evolve to Ecology are working on to give more power and protection to indigenous communities in the Amazon with the Biobank Green Economy initiative.

by C S

Author of

The Silent Ecocide 

Surviving Depression in a Depressing World, an Ecological Perspective

Carlita is an independent environmental journalist and project developer who provides information overlooked by mainstream journalism funded by political agendas, since Carlita has worked closely with indigenous groups in Latin America for the last fifteen years.

 

Evolve to Ecology News

New Book-Surviving Depression in a Depressing World, An Ecological Perspective.

My new book is now published and available here in Paperback and Kindle
This book provides a fresh perspective on the exponential rise in depression and suicide in modern western society. It’s an alternative book for alternative people who  have tried conventional medicine or who aren’t interested in treating depression with allopathic options, and who are open to trying other options. Scientists have studied depression is in fact a normal response to a global environmental destruction, with growing scientific peer reviewed papers that confirm our degrading environment affects our mental health. There is an urgent need for humanity to reconnect with nature and change society to become more environmentally friendly. The author offers advice on how to manage depression better with nutritional advice and controversial health hacks, recommended lifestyle changes including learning the art of living after surviving grief, deep trauma, and loss.
The aim is to help the reader see their depression as a calling to look within, connect with their truer inner being and begin to nurture themselves spiritually, mentally and emotionally. Furthermore, this book invites the reader to consider their own place in human evolution and redefine their lost purpose to one that is more aligned to Ecology than to Western Materialism, to become self-empowered, not a victim of depression. We look at talk therapies and radical new alternative therapies for managing depression in a challenging world.
Contents-
Introduction
Poem-Faithful Black Dog
Chapter One- I am Not my Story
Poem-The Exiled Dissidents
Chapter Two-Corporate devolution vs Ecology
Poem-My Friend, My Shadow
Chapter Three-A Brief History of Depression
Poem-The Thief
Chapter Four- The Art of Living
Poem-The Heart’s Compass
Chapter Five- Gluten Free Living, Health the Gut, Heal the Mind
Poem-Patented Flower in a Planet Sized Laboratory
Chapter Six- Health Hacks to Avoid Inflammation and Depression
Poem-Beat Your Drum
Chapter Seven- A Look at Different Talk Therapies
Poem-Illusions of Polarities
Chapter Eight- The Therapeutic Benefits of Entheogens and CBD oil
Poem–Merging Galaxies
Chapter Nine- The Noosphere, Consciousness and Biosphere
Poem-Love
99951 word count
414 pages

by C S

Author of

The Silent Ecocide 

Surviving Depression in a Depressing World, an Ecological Perspective

Carlita is an independent environmental journalist and project developer who provides information overlooked by mainstream journalism funded by political agendas, since Carlita has worked closely with indigenous groups in Latin America for the last fifteen years.

 

Evolve to Ecology News

Ecuador Sold Out to the Highest Bidders

(Photos by Luis HerRra/ChakanaNews.com )

After a state of emergency was declared in Ecuador, with two weeks of intense demonstrations in Quito, Ecuador’s capital, Ecuadorian protestors have released ten police and thirty journalists, who were reportedly taken hostage by activist groups, in the midst of violent outbreaks during demonstrations against IMF austerity pressures on the Ecuadorian government, namely the reason why oil subsidies were being withdrawn,

Before being liberated later that evening, some of the police officers were made to carry the coffin of a protestor, named Inocencio Tucumbí, whose coffin was taken to the city centre, Inocencio died after being hit by a tear gas canister fired by the police at a protest last Wednesday.

Getty

Three other protestors have lost their lives during the protests and over 650 protestors have been arrested.

President Moreno had to move the government out of Quito to Guayaquil, Lenín Moreno has agreed to reassess the subsidies, but not necessarily repeal them.

This is not just about subsidies and the IMF, it is a reaction  to the growing awareness by the people of  Ecuador, that their country has been bought out by politicians and corporations, heavily exploited.  As a result Ecuador now carries heavy debt.

Indigenous people are tired of the exploits of oil companies continuing to ignore the laws and rights of indigenous people. For over a century, oil and mining companies continue to ignoring the rights of indigenous people, accordingto Ecuadorian law, they are  to seek prior consultation to any indigenous community that their activities may affect. They need to seek prior notice before going into an area of indigenous territory in the Amazon and exploiting the area for oil or mining. However, most oil and mining companies continue to ignore that indigenous communities exist, and  that the ancestral lands belong to in the Amazon people, not for the Ecuadorian governments to allow corporations to enter, for oil, for gold, uranium and so on, this has continued to increase intensively, without international intervention or help, similarly the same is happening in Peru and Brazil where the middle of the rain forests have seen devastating gold mining expansion over thousands of hectares of Amazon rainforest have been turned to deserts  this year .

In Ecuador, indigenous communties are strong and resistence affects the country immediately.  Unfortunately, for Moreno, he took on Ecuador after the prior president Rafael Correa left a messy legacy behind. Correa squeezed all the money he could steal, out of the Ecuadorian economy.

Download the note bonds that Correa sold out, the cause of the recent subsidy withdrawal

Rafael Correa sold Ecuador out completely just before April 2017 Elections, while he was in government, he did a lot of back handed deals, one such deal was while he was running the Yasuni campaign to keep the oil in the ground, behind closed doors, he secretly made oil deals with Chinese oil companies while pretending to the public he wanted to conserve Yasuni National Park. Promptly after Moreno was elected, Rafael Correa immediately left for Brussels.

Two years before PetroAmazonia oil bonds were sold in the New York Stock Market, Correa’s government denounced the 10 per cent in annual interest the country paid on its bonds as “usury in 2015.” So when the 51-year-old former economics professor was only willing to pay 10.5 per cent in a sale of notes back then, it raised speculation the Opec nation may be running short of cash after oil prices collapsed. Before the March 19 sale 2015, Correa told potential buyers it wanted to pay less than 8 per cent to borrow at least US$1 billion for as long as seven years. Instead, the Andean nation got just US$750 million for five years at yields that were more than two percentage points higher.  The sale “indicates that they are running into trouble,” said Sarah Glendon, an economist at Gramercy Funds Management.

Moreno and the people of Ecuador are paying this price, and Moreno is under a lot of pressure to try and find a solution to the mess. However, the ramifications are worse for the indigenous people and so as it is nearing 2020, when the debts of U.S.$315,339,980, has to be paid back at least

4.625% of notes are due by 2020, the pressure on Ecuadorian people and the government is worse than ever, what will Moreno do to compromise for the people of Ecuador? Times have already been hard on the Ecuadorian economy after Ecuador had to spend a lot of money rebuilding important infrastructure recovering from the 7.8 Earthquake in 2016.

Many indigenous people over the last three years have been greatly pressured and exploited as oil and mining activities expand an develop exponentially in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Since this means more destruction of the Amazon, to be exploited by oil companies such as Petro Amazonas and other oil companies for exploitation and drilling, as this debt needs to be paid back by next year, 2020 and these notes were borrowed on Petro Amazonas assets, one of the driving destroyers of the Ecuadorian Amazon.

 

**Update** A resolution has been reached following the Peace Talks Sunday Night. Moreno will withdraw submission to the IMF, people keep their subsidies and finances in tax and public spending will be affected instead.

How could the concept of Natural Capital help Ecuador reclaim economic autonomy?

Ecuador has more than half the world’s biodiversity found in the Amazon rainforest, in terms of Natural Capital, there is a great deal of value in the Amazon that could wipe out all of Ecuador’s world debt.

Today, biodiversity rich areas of the world are a critically endangered and a limited natural resource. We are living in the Sixth greatest mass extinction, because of our addiction to oil and wealth in terms of short term gain, this drastically affects how we manage biodiversity. It is an apocalypse happening in slow motion which affects all of the earth’s biodiversity which took 3.8 billion years of evolution to form. This extinction differs from previous extinctions, in that it is caused by humans, not by natural causes, as we are the cause, we can also slow it down or prevent it, if we make big changes. While governments are aware of this and we continue to accelerate it, each year, and this affects every single species and ecosystem on the planet, nothing is being done to protect biodiversity, instead twenty years on from my environmental science degree, it is disheartening to see environmental laws have become greately weakened as politicians are the stakeholders of lobbying corporations and are legally bribed to rewrite laws for backhanded payments. According to recent scientific data, animals and plants are disappearing at a rate of between 75 and 150 species per day. There may be no rain forest left in twenty years from now, nor fish in the ocean in ten years time and over half the world will have a water crisis, fifteen years from now. Bees are our most important crop pollinators and are fast disappearing and the rate of deforestation and ocean pollution is destroying these keystone ecosystems, which are drastically affected by man’s own actions. As most people are ecologically illiterate, we negate the goods and services and value these natural resources and the wealth they generate or the species that also contribute to the work of ecological goods and services.

Look at Africa, the natural capital if given monetary value would make it the richest country in the world in terms of natural resources. Western society must live more within our ecologically realistic limitations, consume less and live more sustainably. We agree that predatory capitalism equals exploitation, and thrives from growing centralized power structures. This is part of its subjective characteristics and results in a few countries having more power, wealth and opportunities than the rest of the world, which is the cancer of this growing disparity between the first world nations and ”third world nations”, which were originally ancient first world superpowers in the story of ancient history.

Natural Capital is a concept that was explored nearly 20 years ago now, pilot projects have been quietly funded by the United Nations to see how we can value nature and biodiversity for policy makers. The World Resource Institute (WRI) estimates the value of ecosystem services to be US $33 trillion a year, nearly twice the value of the global gross national product (GNP) of US $18 trillion. The US is also in debt by 17 trillion dollars, if the US switched to an economy based on natural capital, the financial value tied up in its natural capital would take care of this debt. In the same way that a banknote is a promissory note against the gold or silver that has been deposited in the bank, ecological economists are seeing how we can start to put the same value onto ecosystems and the role of species in ecosystem production; another example would be the 80 percent of oxygen generated by algae and microbial activity in the oceans. Hypothetically, the value of the work done in existing ecosystems could regenerate local economies and increase the wealth and monetary value of nature globally, simply by ensuring its conservation and existence by using initiatives similar to the TEEB Economic of Ecosystems and Biodiversity model if we took it to a community level to decentralize governmental powers and management of our natural resources.

Nature’s ecological banking system could be a way to revolutionise our world and local economies and transfer wealth from an oil-based economy to an ecology-based economy, this wealth would provide poor countries with enough ecological economy that global debt would become a thing of the past. This starts on a local level, worldwide, which would regenerate and allow local communities to have better control over their own natural resources, protecting and managing them from over-exploitation of previously decentralised management of resources, which could be prevented, if corporate social responsibility pays a tax to the natural capital destroyed and when more is taken out of the ecosystems and Natural Capital, than is put into them, this crucially needs to be taken into account in order to gain more balance.

In terms of flipping this over to give people power instead of governments, we could make local land trusts run by the local communities which protect thousands of hectares of rain forest for the future preservation of biodiversity and translate the value to cryptocurrency rather than fiat, which is centralized and controlled by governments, whereas cryptocurrency is not. Ecuador, Peru, Brazil,Bolivia, Venezuela and Colombia would be infinitely more wealthy because these countries are where the Amazon basin covers. If we put a value on just one hectare of the Amazon for the biodiversity it holds, or for the oxygen and clean water it produces, or for

Here we provide further steps towards sustainability and increasing power to local communities and protect nature from centralized predatory capitalism exploits:

1. Decentralisation of power in cities and governments, to smaller towns and villages, for local communities to have more say in governance of local resources instead of foreign governments.

2. Improve infrastructures in rural areas for solar and wind technology for self sustainable towns and greener cities, strengthening local infrastructures for alternative fuel systems to make the transition from oil easier, such as make hydrogen fuel cell refuelling stations, along with electric cars more available in every town and city and alternative energy resources for off the grid power generators.

3. Ideally, (because this won’t happen in real world politics), Western governments that currently have central power would return the rights for developing countries the access to manage their own land and natural resources which would remedy starvation, put a stop to corporate land grabs and create a more sustainably balanced structure that is not centralised or controlled by corporations and politicians of the Western World.

4. This is a hard one since those who have the power prefer to keep countries in debt, especially to exploit their resources. -Abolish “third world debt” based on unrealistic inflation agendas for the world powers to control natural resources in ‘poorer’ foreign countries that are actually ‘richer’ in rare minerals and natural resources than most Western countries, we will see how in further paragraphs the Natural Economy in terms of goods and services and biodiversity, can turn the poorest nations into the richest over night and would be used to wipe world debt.

5. Environmental laws need to make corporate exploitations of foreign natural resources a crime, more stringent environmental laws are necessary and no more erosion of these laws by politicians who are corporate pimps bribed to rewrite laws for corporate agendas. Western corporations need to abolish privatisation of water, and land resources in “third world countries”.

6. Return land rights to rural community agriculturalists in developing countries, and locally supporting sustainable agriculture. With localised sustainable farming, there would be an equal distribution of food and grain and where there is poor soil quality implementation of soil restoration projects .

The current global conflicts, we see emerging in both the ecological and economic crisis, is a sign that we need to re-evaluate the global economy that has been built on short-term gain and erroneous decisions of greedy politicians and their corporate partners, with no acknowledgement or regard for nature’s capital, invisible goods, services and production that everyone takes for granted. This completely disregards nature’s capital value. Our view of nature is to see ourselves as separate and above it, a western view that is so engrained in our perception of the world, we don’t think twice about our wasteful consumerist culture. We could start exploring new ways of seeing nature as a valuable investment we need to protect, to preserve biodiversity and the natural balance of ecosystems for the future of humanity.

By Carlita Shaw

References

Financial Collapse and Natural Capital

Chakanaka News.com

BBC news 

Illegal Gold Mining in the Amazon, destroying the Brazilian rainforest in just 7 months.

The indigenous lands of Kayapó, in Pará, house mining fronts with an area equivalent to dozens of soccer fields. Photo from Planet Labs

A significant expansion of illegal Gold mining outbreaks in Amazonian indigenous lands is destroying the rainforest at an accelerated rate in Brazil, which began to emerge since January of this year. This is confirmed by the satellite images analysed by BBC News Brazil.

The indigenous and environmentalists are critically concerned with this development  occurring  in different parts in the states of Pará and Roraima, in the north of Brazil, the mining activity has increased since the public statements and hate speech of President Jair Bolsonaro against indigenous people and in favour of the exploitation of minerals in indigenous lands and what they consider a weakening in the fight against environmental crimes by the government.

The mining invasion of one of these reserves in the Amazon has also resulted in a murdered indigenous leader of the Wajãpi tribe , which occurred following a plea for help from the leader, that miners had entered their territory with guns and weapons.

The Wajãpi indigenous community who reside in the west of the state of Amapá, reported  last Saturday that a group of miners assassinated Emyra Wajãpi  last wednesday. The indigenous leader, Wajãpi ´s death was the beginning of an attack to the Mariry village that took place between Friday and Sunday with the invasion of 50 gold seekers to the place.

The Coordination of the indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) issued a statement condemning the invasions and showing their solidarity with the Wajãpi people.

“The Coordination of the indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), together with its base organizations on a state, regional and local level, mainly with the APOINAP (Articulation of Indigenous Peoples and Amapá and Northern Pará Organizations), are here to express publicly their complete solidarity and support for the Waiãpi indigenous people, in lieu of the recent events in which metal seekers invaded their territory, while we express our deep and vehement repulsion towards this kind of action, that has intensified itself, fomented mainly by intransigent and irresponsible, authoritarian, judgemental, arrogant and disrespectful positions of the current government, especially from the president of the republic Jair Bolsonaro, for the attacks he has been making against the rights of the people of this country, especially the territorial rights already guaranteed in completely demarcated and regularized indigenous lands in light of the Constitution of the Federal Government of 1988 and which this government is constantly trying to set back.”  – Reported to Latin American News

Opening these ancestral protected lands to mining and other extraction industries such as oil and gas drilling have devastating consequences for indigenous communities and irreversible ecological devastation such as mercury poisoning of the Amazon waterways which people use to fish and bath in.

Previous affected indigenous people were also the Yamomami people in on-going illegal gold extraction in 2013 and before.

The deforestation of the Amazon has accelerated with the arrival of Bolsonaro to the presidency of Brazil, since the president has been encouraging racial discrimination and persecution of indigenous people in the Amazon whose lives  and ancestral lands are being destroyed and  threatened by mining and oil extraction.

The mine outbreak occurred at a time when the National Space Research Institute (INPE) has claimed that there is a high rate of destruction in the Amazon, which has been questioned by President Bolsonaro, who said the publication of data on deforestation could affect the country’s international negotiations.

The images evaluated by the BBC are from Planet Labs , an American company that orbits more than 100 satellites and takes daily photographs of the world.

Illegal gold mining in the Indigenous Land Kayapó, Pará, in July 2019. The clearest points indicate recent activity.

The activity was monitored in three of the Brazilian indigenous lands that suffer the most illegal gold extraction: Kayapó, Munduruku (both in Pará) and Yanomami (in Roraima and Amazonas). The three territories occupy an area equivalent to that of the state of São Paulo and house some of the most conserved sections of the Brazilian Amazon.

In three Brazilian Amazon territories, there was an increase in these areas of mining extraction to reopen old mines, some created more than a decade ago – and in those created more recently.

The satelite photographs were sent to two satellite imagery specialists: to geologist Carlos Souza Jr. of Imazon (a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of the Amazon rainforest); and to the geographer of the business intelligence software Arcplan, Marcos Reis Rosa.

Both confirmed that the mines are expanding their gold extraction activities. Some are even occupying areas the size of dozens of soccer fields.

Gold in Yanomami

In June, the BBC published a report that showed that in 2019, gold became the second most exported product in the Roraima area , although none of the mines  operate legally.

Officials are investigating whether the metal has been illegally extracted from the territory in Yanomami, where, according to the natives, at least 10, 000 miners are currently operating.

The executive coordinator of the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib), Sonia Guajajara , says that indigenous people from different parts of the Amazon have reported “an absurd increase” in mining companies since the beginning of the Bolsonaro government, this is due to Bolsonaro´s hate speech against indigenous people and encouragement of mining in these areas, desperation is increasing as Brazil on the verge of recession.

 While Bolsonaro served as a federal deputy and, later in his presidential career, he repeatedly said he agreed with the economic exploitation of these territories to improve the living conditions of indigenous communities, but this doesn´t improve their lives or living standards, their land is illegally taken from them and their Amazon waterways  and fish are killed and polluted with mercury and other toxic poisons.

The 1988 Constitution provides for the exploitation of minerals in indigenous lands as long as it is regulated. But as laws in this field have never been passed, the activities are continuously illegal.

Since 1996 , Congress has tried to pass a bill to regulate mining in indigenous lands. Now, the Bolsonaro government is trying to unlock the agenda.

“Bolsonaro is making Brazil the exterminator of the environmental future”: the harsh message of 8 former Brazilian environment ministers

However, according to Sonia Guajajara, the vast majority of Brazilian indigenous communities oppose the regulation of the activity because they fear their social and environmental impacts.

At the end of 2018, Amazon’s geo-referenced socio-environmental information network – which brings together eight environmental NGOs from Latin America – published a report on threats to the Amazon. The document identified illegal mining on 18 indigenous lands in Brazil. There is also a prior report written by Jasmine Plummer investigating the environmental laws on this activity and how it affects the   from 2007

In some territories, rafts are installed on the Amazon riverways, to look for precious metals in the riverbed. In addition to the rafts, industrial machinery such as backhoes and dredgers form Deforested craters in the forest. This is the case of many of the mines in the Tapajós de Pará region , where satellite images exhibit important “scars” open in the forest.

In addition to logging, the activity causes sedimentation of rivers , diverting their courses and creating artificial lakes that become breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Not by chance, malaria is common in the mining areas of the Amazon.

In some areas the damage is permanent, with no possibility of complete regeneration.

“Scars” caused by the extraction of gold in the Tapajós de Pará region, in an image taken in July 2019.

Gold mining is also associated with an increase in conflict, increasing human trafficking, prostitution and disease in the indigenous areas where it operates.

For forest engineer Paulo Barreto, an associate researcher at Imazon, deforestation in the Amazon has been stimulated not only by Bolsonaro’s statements, but also by the weakening of regulatory environmental agencies.

“It has created a climate where everything  and anything goes, and people think it will not be punished,” Barreto told the BBC.

By order of Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, the annual budget of Ibama, the main federal environmental agency, was reduced by US $ 23.57 million this year, a quarter of the total.

Meanwhile, destruction of the Brazilian Amazon has doubled in just a few years from  7%, in 2008, to 13%, in 2017. Data released in 2018 by the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais – INPE (National Institute of Spatial Research) 

The indigenous lands of Kayapó, in Pará, have mining activities which have destroyed with an area equivalent to dozens of football fields.

This week President Bolsonaro was again criticized by environmentalists. After the president insisted that deforestation figures released by the National Space Research Institute (INPE) were a lie and could hamper Brazil’s negotiations with other countries, such as those related to the trade agreement between Mercosur and the European Union .

European leaders have expressed concern about the increase in deforestation in Brazil and Bolsonaro’s actions in the environmental sector.

In April, a letter published in the journal Nature signed by 607 scientists and two indigenous organizations criticized the Bolsonaro government for “working to dismantle deforestation policies.”

The signatories of the document denounce that “the new administration of Brazil threatens indigenous rights and natural areas.”

In the words of the Yanomami’s foremost
shaman-activist, Davi Kopenawa Yanomami-

The Earth cannot be split apart as if the forest were just a leftover part. With leftover trees and leftover rivers, leftover game, fish and humans who live there, its breath of life will become too short. That is why we are worried. We shamans simply say we are protecting nature as a whole thing. We defend the forests’ trees, mountains and rivers, its fish, game, spirits and human inhabitants.

by Carlita Shaw

Margoth, Amparo and Amada, three brave women that defend the Pueblos Indígenas and the Amazon Rainforest.

Learn the story of Margoth, Amparo and Amada, three brave women that defend the Pueblos Indígenas and the Amazon Rainforest.

Please sign the petition for better protection of these brave environmental defenders  https://bit.ly/2ZPLvDh

Ecuador: In the absence of protection from the State, Amazónian women risk their lives to defend the Rainforest

The lack of capacity and political will of the Ecuadorian authorities to guarantee protection and adequately and effectively investigate attacks and threats against Amazonian Women defenders of the environment which puts their lives at risk, and those of other people who protect the Amazon against political and economic interests linked to large-scale extractive projects in indigenous territories, said Amnesty International in a new report published today.

“They will not stop us” : The Ecuadorian government fails justice and protection for Amazonian women defenders of land, territory and environment, which exposes the failures of the Ecuadorian Attorney General’s Office in response to a series of attacks and death threats registered in 2018 against Patricia Gualinga, Nema Grefa, Salomé Aranda and Margoth Escobar. The four women are members of the Mujeres Amazónicas collective, made up of dozens of indigenous women from Ecuador who defend the environment in the Amazon and the rights of indigenous peoples.

The work of people who defend the environment, such as the Amazonian Women and other organizations of the indigenous peoples, is urgent and necessary in Ecuador and in the whole world, before the increasingly evident impacts of the global environmental crisis.

“Despite the promises made by the government of President Moreno, the lack of political will to seriously investigate the attacks against human rights defenders and to give them adequate protection sends a clear message to society: that these crimes are tolerated in Ecuador. This is unacceptable, “said Erika Guevara Rosas, Americas director for Amnesty International.

The lines of investigation and the protection measures that the Ecuadorian authorities have offered to the victims seem to ignore possible motives of the attacks linked to their challenge to large-scale economic interests and to traditional gender roles, through their role as indigenous leaders. and human rights defenders.

“This attack is retaliation for my struggle to defend life and our territories against the threat of oil exploitation,” said Salome Aranda, after several strangers threatened and attacked her and her family with stones while they were at home in May 2018.

The Amazonian Women point out that the authorities in charge of investigating do not collect or analyze critical evidence in time, which could even help identify those responsible for the attacks against them. Faced with these failures, the defenders end up in practice assuming the burden of the investigation.

”We are united and we will continue in our fight for the defense of Mother Earth.”-
Patricia Gualinga, Amazonian Woman defender.

The Amazonian Women also criticize that the protection measures that they have offered are inadequate and insufficient in the face of the particular needs and the exceptional risks they face every day.

Regardless of the possible causes of these failures, their consequences on the lives of human rights and environmental defenders in Ecuador are clear and concrete. In a country where attacks against them are not punished and authorities do not assume their responsibility to guarantee their safety, many people face the permanent dilemma of risking their lives and that of their families to defend human rights and nature. .

“President Lenin Moreno and the new Attorney General, Diana Salazar, have in their hands the opportunity to put an end to this grave situation and guarantee justice and protection for the Amazonian Women and any person who defends human rights in Ecuador. For this, they must implement a national protection policy and a protocol to investigate crimes against them, “said Erika Guevara Rosas.

Despite impunity and lack of protection, Patricia Gualinga says they will not surrender: “We are united and we will continue in our fight for the defense of Mother Earth.”

by Carlita Shaw

The Silent Ecocide

#SaveTheAmazon #Valiente 👉 https://t.co/QFk98tuGcYExige a la Fiscal de Ecuador que actúe para la protección de las Mujeres Defensoras de la Amazonía firmando está petición: https://bit.ly/2ZPLvDh

Deforestation and genocide in the Amazon reaches accelerated levels

map of all industrial activity and genocideThe above map shows the amount of industrial activity in the Amazon and the red crosses show the amount of indigenous people assassinated due to conflicts over rainforest that they are fighting to protect.

Between August 2017 and July 2018 some 7,900 square kilometres of forest were logged in the Brazilian Amazon, the worst annual rate of deforestation in a decade, according to official government data. This represents an increase of 13.7% over the same period last year.

Greenpeace Brazil pointed out, approximately 1,185 million trees were felled in an area equivalent to the size of 987,500 football fields.

This worrying news comes amid fears that the new far right president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, may worsen the situation due to his promise to open more the Amazon to the development of the timber industry, in addition to his public hatred of indigenous people, specifically the  Kawahivas people who are on the edge of extinction. 

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The above graph from Global Witness report ”At What Cost” shows Brazil has the highest rate of environmental defenders being killed than any other country in the world.

The Amazon rain forest is deadlier than ever for land and environmental defenders, with mining and oil industries and agribusiness, these industries are the most linked to genocides of environmentalists and indigenous rainforest activists.

Global Witness’s latest annual data into violence against land and environmental defenders shows a rise in the number of women and men killed over the last few years to 207 in Brazil especially. What’s more, Global Witness’s research has highlighted agribusiness including coffee, palm oil and banana plantations as the industry most associated with these attacks.

4-captura de pantalla completa 16012019 161740.bmpBetween 2005 and 2011 deforestation  decreased in Brazil by an encouraging 70%, mainly due to the increase in government protection in response to a growing awareness to protect the rainforest. Even between 2011 and 2017, when Brazil entered a more chaotic political period, the decline in deforestation stopped, but did not reverse. Bolsonaro’s leadership plans, unfortunately, will undo some of that progress.

However, not only is the rate of deforestation increasing in Brazil,  it is also accelerating in Ecuador and the Peruvian Amazon and many indigenous natives are not given legal prior consultation to enter their territories for oil drilling or logging, therefore it is often done brutally with the help of military force, illegally violating indigenous people’s rights. The Amazon rainforest is a boundless region that spans across eight developing countries: Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. Colombia has done more in the past years to step up to conserving large areas of rain forest, they set aside over 28.4 Million hectares of rain forest for conservation purposes.
deforestacion-amazoniaImage: Rich Carey Shutterstock

In a statement, Brazil’s environment minister, Edson Duarte, blamed illegal logging for increased deforestation in the Amazon and called on the government to step up surveillance in the forests, Reuters reported.

Greenpeace claims that the Brazilian government is not doing enough to stop deforestation. In addition, with Bolsonaro in command, “the predictions for the Amazon (and for the fight against climate change) are not good”.

The loss of forests creates an unpleasant feedback loop in climate change. Forests and forest soils are a major carbon sink, and deforestation adds more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere.

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In the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, regarding the limitation of global warming to 1.5 ° C above pre-industrial levels, it is pointed out that the planting of more trees and the maintenance of existing trees are essential to achieve that goal.

Moreover, in the Amazon, biodiversity loss is devastating and irreversible when deforestation occurs, it is not a matter of planting more trees. It is impossible to replace the biodiversity and species lost which have evolved through millions of years in the biodiversity rich Amazon. Half of the world’s entire animal, amphibians, reptiles, birds, plants, and insect species are found in the Amazon rainforest which is the world’s largest biodiversity hotspot.

The Amazon rain forest contains:

One in ten known species on Earth
1.4 billion acres of dense forests, half of the planet’s remaining tropical forests
4,100 miles of winding rivers
2.6 million square miles in the Amazon basin, about 40 percent of South America
There is a clear link between the health of the Amazon and the health of the planet. The rain forests, which contain 90-140 billion metric tons of carbon, help stabilize local and global climate. Deforestation may release significant amounts of this carbon, which could have catastrophic consequences around the world.

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by Carlita Shaw

 The Silent Ecocide

The Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, Openly declared Genocide on the Kawahivas people who are on the edge of extinction.

1545397256_606928_1545397773_noticia_normal_recorte1Photo copyright-Marcelo Camerago

The UN defines genocide as “any of the acts perpetrated with the intention of destroying, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” But the classification of such crimes as genocide or not is partly a matter of the number of victims. While the genocides of Rwanda or Bosnia received global attention, many others that take place outside the visual field of public opinion, especially on the Latin American continent. These are neither investigated nor recognized because they involve rural villages of a few hundred, or even a few dozen people.
Although the agreement on the genocide of the United Nations (UN) Organization came into force 70 years ago, entire tribes continue to be attacked and exterminated by  powerful corporations and their dominant society in order to steal their lands and natural resources. In the depths of the Amazon rainforest, one of these native tribes forced to uproot and leave their ancestral land because of this. It is the Kawahivas, a small isolated tribe of a few dozen members, survivors of waves of violent attacks that have brought them to the brink of extinction.

”Their territory, known as Rio Pardo, is in Mato Grosso state, where illegal deforestation rates are the highest on record in Brazil’s Amazon.

Rio Pardo lies within the municipality of Colniza, one of the most violent areas in Brazil. 90% of Colniza’s income is from illegal logging.

The Kawahiva’s plight is so serious that in 2005 a public prosecutor launched Brazil’s first ever investigation into the genocide of an uncontacted Indian tribe. Twenty-nine people suspected of involvement in killing Kawahiva, including a former state governor and a senior policeman, were detained but later released. The case has stalled for lack of evidence.”– Survival International.

The last of the Kawahiva are forced to live on the run from armed loggers and powerful ranchers. Image taken from rare footage from a chance encounter with government agents.
The last of the Kawahiva are forced to live on the run from armed loggers and powerful ranchers. Image taken from rare footage from a chance encounter with government agents. -FUNAI

We know almost nothing of the Kawahiva, except that they have been forced to change their way of life from settled villages to becoming nomadic and only setting up temporary shelters to constantly flee the Oil merchants and the Loggers tractors and mechanical saws. They live in constant fear of genocide, in this region of the Brazilian Amazon basin, where there is the highest rate of illegal deforestation in the country. The territory of the Kawahivas is located near the city of Colniza, one of the most violent areas of Brazil, where 90% of the income comes from illegal logging for the timber industry. Unless the Brazilian authorities act immediately, the genocide of the Kawahivas will be fulfilled shortly.

Often, small tribes such as the Kawahivas are seen as an obstacle to the advance of  oil drilling and agro-industry, mineral extractive industries, roads and dams. The Brazilian Amazon is home to around 100 isolated tribes, which make up the vast majority of the world’s uncontacted population. They are the most vulnerable people on our planet.

As the jungle is invaded and destroyed in the name of economic progress and personal gain, these peoples are attacked and liquidated by the simple fact that greedy outsiders know that they can even kill with impunity and the public media do nothing to report these horrors. These are silent and invisible genocides, of which there are hardly any witnesses. Often, the news only comes to light months or years later. It is probable that we will never get to know the real number of uncontacted indigenous peoples that have been eliminated because they are indigenous, they may not even speak more than their own native language, not Portuguese, and they are seen by the established colonials and especially by the elite and government as a “nuisance” and obstacle to development.

This mentality goes back to the Far West of the 18th and 19th centuries, when the native peoples of the United States were annihilated by the settlers, many of whom considered that “the only good Indian is the dead Indian”. Jair Bolsonaro, president-elect of Brazil, also thinks this. He has declared that “it is a shame that the Brazilian cavalry was not as effective as the Americans, who exterminated their Indians.”

His words of hatred add fuel to an already incendiary situation: in recent months those who want to appropriate indigenous lands have been encouraged and attacks on indigenous communities have proliferated. Bolsonaro has proposed to take FUNAI, the Department of Indigenous Affairs responsible for uncontacted indigenous peoples, from the Ministry of Justice to place it in the new Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights. This will undoubtedly reduce the effectiveness and influence of FUNAI.

Moreover, she has appointed Damares Alves as the new minister, an evangelical preacher and parliamentary assistant. Along with other people, she founded Atini, a group dedicated to evangelizing indigenous communities that is being investigated by the prosecution for incitement to racial hatred against indigenous peoples.

Bolsonaro has promised that under his presidency will not protect “a millimeter” more of indigenous lands. Sonia Guajajara, an indigenous woman who joined the candidacy of another candidate for the presidency in 2018, declared during the campaign: “In Brazil, there is a political decision not to demarcate territories and, when it is denied [the demarcation] an entire population is condemned to extermination”.
Things do not have to be this way. Survival International was founded 50 years ago, after the publication of the article “Genocide” by Norman Lewis, in the Sunday Times [British newspaper] in 1969, which revealed the atrocities suffered by many indigenous peoples in Brazil in the last century. The 50 years of our successful campaigns demonstrate the strength and influence of raising awareness and mobilizing public opinion against governments and companies that do not respect the rights of indigenous peoples.

Now more than ever we have to mobilize our collective strength to denounce and put an end to these hidden genocides. If we stand silent and do nothing we are also complicit in the annihilation of the indigenous natives who are the most responsible and environmentally conscious guardians of the Amazon forest.

by Carlita Shaw

The Silent Ecocide, a crisis of consciousness

Story published in Spanish here.