Up, Down, Appendices, Postscript.
José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria do Espírito Santo were executed by agri-business thugs last week on a back road in Brazil, Nova Ipixuna near Marabá in Pará state (map). Their ears were cut off, apparently as vouchers for payment.
Nova Ipixuna is not so far from Anapu, where they killed Sister Dorothy in 2005 (maybe 200 miles up BR230 from Marabá, map); quite a long way, 1,400 miles - on the other side of the country - from Xapuri in Acre state, where they killed Chico Mendes in 1988 (map). And a thousand and more others in Brazil over the last decade, not so famous but just as alive. And the same in Peru, Equador, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast - all over the earth - wherever consumer appetites meet reality.
A few days later, a neighbour of Zé and Maria, Erenilton Pereira dos Santos, a young man of 25 with four kids, who witnessed the killers escaping on a motorcycle and was maybe ready to identify them was killed also, in the same manner. The police say there is no connection between the killings.
Last fall, Zé Cláudio made this 10 minute presentation at TEDx Amazônia.
To view English subtitles you can use the 'CC' button - this is a useful trick. I didn't know it at the time, so I made this video with my own translation. The joke was on me. Eventually I got the clue I needed on how to operate YouTube from this article in the NYT. And you can lift subtitles from YouTube with Ctrl-C so I put it all together into a transcript & translation - still not perfect, translations never are I guess.
I first saw Zé Cláudio's talk sometime around Christmas 2010. And what caught me, firmly, so that I remembered his name when it flashed by in the headlines last week, was this: the few tiny chokings in his speech which revealed, without the fear of contradiction, the depth of his emotion and commitment. The connection which cannot be denied, cannot be equivocated, is that gut knowledge which moved the Good Samaritan to save the man who had fallen among thieves - here. And I don't mean the simple spectacle of a strong man holding his emotions in check ... either you get it or you don't, whatever ...
The NYT author, John Rudolf, does point out the connection with Brazil's softening of forest regulations - just as Amazon deforestation reaches new depths. Dilma Rousseff will have to be watched in the next months to see if she is as good as her word on the proposed amnesty. Anyway it doesn't matter much - the crux is not the amnesty, that's just the worst of it; what matters is the apparently unstoppable impetus of greedy 'economic' nonsense.
Once again, my febrile little mind is driven back to scripture, and to this one in particular:
Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die.
Esteja atento! Fortaleça o que resta e que estava para morrer.And indeed, fossicking about at TEDx turned up a couple of interesting fellows who are doing exactly that: Felipe Milanez, who introduced Zé Cláudio to the people at TEDx (and who took many of the photographs of Zé Cláudio & Maria posted above); and Edgard Gouveia Jr., an architect with the Brazilian parallel track on Transition Town.
Here are some short presentations at TEDx Amazônia (don't forget that CC button):
Felipe Milanez - Brazilian genocide,And here are some useful links (each of which will open in a new Tab/Window, I have saved an archive so if they do go off-line and I find out about it I can pop them in then) to see what they are up to:
Edgard Gouveia Jr. - Tocô-colô/Touch 'n Stick, and,
Felipe Milanez and Edgard Gouveia Jr. - A riddle.
Felipe Milanez:Milanez lost what looks like a cushy job at National Geographic Brasil/Abril in a bit of a controversy over remarks he made on Twitter about racism in Veja (a Brazilian Maclean's). You can find it, just Google 'Felipe Milanez Veja' if you are interested. As far as I can see his remarks were right on. One commenter noted that he is probably better off out of it - I can't say for sure but ... yeah, even though he does not seem entirely happy about it, it could be for the best.Plowboys and Indians, Vice Magazine, May 2009 (photos by Araquém Alcântara - watch out for the sound).Edgard Gouveia Jr.:
Tristeza Índia, Rolling Stone Brasil, dezembro 2009.
Fogo, o desbravador do Brasil, Terra, 30 de agosto de 2010.
Altamira: 40 anos no centro do furacão, Terra, 6 de setembro de 2010.
Medo e tensão no oeste (pdf), Rolling Stone Brasil, outubro 2010.
Uma ex-floresta, Terra, 6 de dezembro de 2010.
Esperança, Terra, 14 de fevereiro de 2011.YIP (Youth Initiative Program) Playing to Change the World, Warriors without Weapons.
Guerreiros sem Armas at Instituto Elos ('Elos'='Links').
'Fellow' at ASHOKA.
Oasis Mundi, Guerreiros Sem Armas 2011.
Papo com... Edgard Gouveia Júnior, Boqnews (?), 14 de novembro de 2008.
So ... there's our Zé Cláudio and his good wife Maria and their neighbour Erenilton, gone. Ai ai ai! And all their families and friends are mourning, getting angry. Weeping at the loss while their government sets up better conditions for the loggers and charcoal makers.
An internet acquaintance, a brother, a companheiro, Altino Machado, who keeps this blog, said, "Onde vamos parar, meu caro?" / Man, where will we stop?
Where will we stop indeed? (Just to be perfectly clear - that's 'we' eh?)
Here's Chico Buarque with João e Maria, to sing us on outa here; recorded by someone at Canecão in Rio. I was there that night, close to the front with my sweet honey and all the good Brazilian burghers; stood in line for hours to get tickets; still enough of a stranger to be surprised that everyone, almost without exception, knew the lyrics off by heart.
And know that it is Zé & his Maria I am thinking about just now as I listen to it, not João e Maria - but ... close enough for the girls I go with. My mother sang off key, and loved to sing anyway, and I can hear someone in that audience who reminds me of my friend Liliã who always knows all the words and sings off key too. Ai ai ai ... saudades ...
Someone in my dream last night said, "I dreamed of Smoke and I will find Love," and still in the dream I replied, "I dreamed a Prune and I will find Treasure." It seemed like fractured Shakespeare but I can't place it, Twelfth Night maybe?
No Parsley (there is such trite as I will not tread into), so my window garden is now: Sage, Rosemary, Thyme, and ... Jasmine (in honour of the Chinese government which has apparently banned it, see here in the NYT) ... and Sumac of course (being diœcious y'unnerstan').
And that tree out there keeps putting on her leaves in the springtime, every year, just as if there could never be an end to it.
Terrible photographs taken on my shitbox Olympus Stylus 1010 - next best thing to useless! Where is my old Spotmatic? Ilford and Kodachrome? There are still people out there who think that technology is gonna save us!? Always good to end with a laugh eh? Leave 'em laughing when you go ...
As long as I was in there I looked at a few pages - turns out the Balm of Gilead is Myrrh, used for embalming by the ancient Egyptians ... just in case you were waiting around for some.
Be well gentle reader, and remember, strengthen the things which remain.
I have been thinking about my response to Colin Turnbull last week. I am still waiting for The Ik (a play), and there is going to be a mail strike apparently - could be a while - so I will just mention two thoughts:
1. Like the guy forecasting the end of the world a while ago, Turnbull is right in a way: humanity is ugly and uncaring and transparently hypocritical, brutal ... Did I say stupid? Just consider this not-quite-bourgeois justice in Diepsloot, South Africa. But ... he is right in the way that a stopped clock is on time twice a day.So ... more to come on Colin Turnbull eventually.
And 2. Being a fat old gringo heterosexual, even one who thinks sometimes, still leaves me with, say, 'residual something-or-other' when it comes to gay anthropologists - no, I probably don't trust them in general ... go on, call me a bigot. I come from a long line of bigots.
Well, here's something! A young woman with gumption (in spades!): Brigette DePape.
Take a close look at that first photograph and try to imagine yourself at 21 years of age standing up to the major purveyors for the power-elite, all by yourself, in the Senate, during the Throne Speech. Standing right upon the veritable belly-button of the whole shitteree shebang!
She is articulate too as evidenced in this interview on CTV, and another one with CBC - the talking heads come off second-best in both cases. You can get to know her a bit in this TEDx video of a (somewhat sententious, or is that 'precious'?) play and short speech at Ashbury College last spring. Here's her Press Release (she can't spell but, hell, none of the graduates can spell anymore), and an article of hers on the G20 from last year: It wasn't a waste of time.
Pleasantly surprising to hear at least two Senators, Jim Munson & Pierre Nolin, express qualified approbation; while Bob Rae & Justin Trudeau & Elizabeth May and such like lame left-libs (L!L!L!) wring their hands in anguish and cry 'Breach of Protocol' (Bah Humbug!).
Good on you Brigette! Thanks.
Okokokok ... but I can't think about Chico Buarque without going to Construção (sorry the text is so tiny, this damned Blogger thing changes its standards once in a while, but you can use Ctrl+ a few times to make it bigger). Chico Buarque is a smart guy, very smart ... and of course I love that word proparoxítona.
Maybe I will take part of the day and translate João e Maria too ... or maybe post it next week ...
1. Murder of Activists Raises Questions of Justice in Amazon, John Collins Rudolf, May 28 2011.
2. Catching Scent of Revolution, China Moves to Snip Jasmine, Andrew Jacobs, May 10 2011.
4. Brigette DePape - Press Release, June 3 2011.
5. It wasn't a waste of time, Brigette DePape, July 17 2010.
Murder of Activists Raises Questions of Justice in Amazon, John Collins Rudolf, May 28 2011.
Early last Tuesday, José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva, a forest activist and tree nut harvester, and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo, drove a motorcycle through Brazil’s northern Para State, in the Amazon rain forest. As they crossed a river bridge, gunmen lying in wait opened fire with a pistol and shotgun, killing them.
It was a gruesome attack: before they fled, the assassins severed one of Mr. da Silva’s ears as a trophy, a signature of hired gunmen in the region. At least 15 bullet casings were found at the scene, reports said.
News of the slayings, emerging on the same day that Brazil’s parliament was to vote on a controversial revision of the country’s forest protection laws, rocketed through Brazil’s political classes. Within hours, senior government officials were briefed on the crime and President Dilma Rousseff had ordered an investigation by the federal police.
Yet whether that investigation results in punishment for the killers — or those who likely hired them — is deeply uncertain. More than 1,000 rural activists, small farmers, religious workers and others fighting the region’s rampant deforestation have been slain in the past 20 years, but only a handful of killers have ever been successfully prosecuted, according to a statement by the Pastoral Land Commission, a Catholic organization that tracks rural violence.
The successful prosecution of the powerful farmers, ranchers, loggers and industrial interests behind the killings, meanwhile, is almost nonexistent in the region, the group said.
Environmental campaigners said that endemic corruption in Para State’s judiciary has allowed the murder of forest activists to be committed with impunity.
“Corruption is part of the process here,” said Paulo Adario, the Amazon campaign director for Greenpeace. “Para is a state completely out of control. It continues to be the Wild West.”
In a speech at the TEDx Amazon conference last November, Mr. da Silva spoke about his efforts protecting the rain forest, where he had worked as a nut harvester and basket maker since the age of 7 and had helped develop an economic collective based on sustainable forest products. (For English subtitles on the above YouTube video, press play, then engage the “cc” closed-captioning button.)
As a child, he said, the forest cover around his small town was 85 percent intact, but today it is down to just 20 percent, much of which is already fragmented.
He acknowledged the dangers he faced for his activism. “I live off the forest, I protect it in every way I can. That’s why I live at gunpoint all the time,” he said. “Am I scared? I am. I am a human being. I get scared.”
Mr. da Silva closed his speech with a plea to “all of you who live in urban centers.”
“When you want to buy something that was made from timber, that came from the forest, check the origin,” he said. “If you start to say no to timber of suspicious origin, to timber with an unknown origin the market will begin to weaken and they will no longer see the results they hoped for.”
“They either abide by the law or they close down.”
In a grim coincidence, on the same day that Mr. da Silva and his wife were killed, the Brazilian Congress voted in favor of a controversial bill loosening the national forest code, a decades-old law containing provisions designed to protect the Amazon rain forest from destruction by loggers, farmers and other commercial interests.
The law would open the door to new deforestation and grant broad amnesty to those guilty of illegal forest clearance, analysts said.
During the debate over the revisions, Jose Sarney Filho, a congressman and former environment minister who opposed the changes to the code, spoke of the activists’ murders in a speech to the Assembly. He was greeted by boos from the audience, including fellow deputies.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Mr. Adario, the Greenpeace director, who witnessed the speech. “They were booing the news of a murder. It was terrible, but it happened.”
The bill now advances to the Senate for review, and must ultimately be signed by President Rousseff, who has vowed to veto any measure containing amnesty for illegal loggers or allowing new deforestation.
As for the investigation into the murders of Mr. da Silva and his wife, regional observers say that justice is unlikely unless sufficient media and political pressure are brought to bear on the case.
A similar slaying in 2005, of Dorothy Stang, an American nun and rain forest activist, resulted in the conviction not just of the gunmen responsible for her death but also the powerful landowner who ordered the killing. Those convictions came only after intense national and international attention and a difficult legal process, however.
“This is a very remote region, far from the spotlight,” Mr. Adario said. “When you bring the spotlight you can hope that things can change.”
Catching Scent of Revolution, China Moves to Snip Jasmine, Andrew Jacobs, May 10 2011.
DAXING, China — Do not be lulled by its intoxicating fragrance or the dainty, starlike blossoms whose whiteness suggests innocence and purity. Jasmine, a stalwart of Chinese tea and the subject of a celebrated folk song often heard while on hold with provincial bureaucrats, is not what it seems.
Since Tunisian revolutionaries this year anointed their successful revolt against the country’s dictatorial president the “Jasmine Revolution,” this flowering cousin of the olive tree has been branded a nefarious change-agent by the skittish men who keep the Chinese Communist Party in power.
Beginning in February, when anonymous calls for a Chinese “Jasmine Revolution” began circulating on the Internet, the Chinese characters for jasmine have been intermittently blocked in text messages while videos of President Hu Jintao singing “Mo Li Hua,” a Qing dynasty paean to the flower, have been plucked from the Web. Local officials, fearful of the flower’s destabilizing potency, canceled this summer’s China International Jasmine Cultural Festival, said Wu Guangyan, manager of the Guangxi Jasmine Development and Investment Company.
Even if Chinese cities have been free from any whiff of revolutionary turmoil, the war on jasmine has not been without casualties, most notably the ever-expanding list of democracy advocates, bloggers and other would-be troublemakers who have been pre-emptively detained by public security agents. They include the artist provocateur Ai Weiwei, who remains in police custody after being seized at Beijing’s international airport last month.
Less well known are the tribulations endured by the tawny-skinned men and women who grow ornamental jasmine here in Daxing, a district on the rural fringe of the capital. They say prices have collapsed since March, when the police issued an open-ended jasmine ban at a number of retail and wholesale flower markets around Beijing.
Zhen Weizhong, 47, who tends 2,000 jasmine plants on about an acre of rented land here, said the knee-high potted variety was wholesaling at about 75 cents, one-third last year’s price. “Even if I could sell them, I would lose money on every plant,” he said, glancing forlornly at a mound of unsold bushes whose blossoms were beginning to fade. Asked if he knew about the so-called Jasmine Revolution and whether it had played a role in collapsing demand, Mr. Zhen shrugged. “I don’t know anything about politics,” he said. “I don’t have time to watch television.”
Much like the initial calls on the Internet for protesters to “stroll silently holding a jasmine flower,” the floral ban is shrouded in some mystery. The Beijing Public Security Bureau declined to answer questions about jasmine. But a number of cut flower and live-plant business owners said they had been either visited by the police in early March or given directives indicating that it had become contraband.
Several of those who run stalls in one large plant outlet, the Sunhe Beidong flower market, said the local police had called vendors to a meeting and forced them to sign pledges to not carry jasmine; one said she had been instructed to report to the authorities those even seeking to purchase jasmine and to jot down their license plate numbers. (She said she had yet to detect any subversives seeking to buy jasmine at her stall.)
Although some vendors were given vague explanations for the jasmine freeze — that the plant was “symbolic” of those people who wanted to sow rebellion — most people involved in the flower trade have been largely left in the dark about why they should behave with such vigilance, and some professed ignorance of the ban altogether. Thanks to a censored Internet, most Chinese have never heard of the protest calls in China, nor are they aware of the ensuing crackdown.
In the absence of concrete information, fantastic rumors have taken root. One wholesale flower vendor at the Jiuzhou Flower and Plant Trading Center in southern Beijing said he heard the ban had something to do with radiation contamination from Japan. A young woman hawking floral bouquets at Laitai, a large flower market near the United States Embassy, said she was told jasmine blossoms contained some unspecified poison that was killing people. “Perhaps you’d like some white roses instead?” she asked hopefully.
Wu Chuanzhen, 53, a farmer who tends eight greenhouses of jasmine on the outskirts of the city, said other growers had insisted that adherents of Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement deemed an “evil cult” by the authorities, might use the flowers in their bid to overthrow the governing Communist Party. “I heard jasmine is the code word for the revolution,” she said. Her laughter suggested she thought such concerns were absurd.
Many sellers, however, were less than eager to discuss jasmine with a foreigner, particularly at the Sunhe Beidong market, where a policeman could be seen last month nosing around the bouquets. Most quickly steered the conversation to more promising topics. “You don’t want to buy jasmine. It’s just not trendy this year,” said one clerk at the Laitai market, pointing to pots of lavender and rosemary.
As is often the case in China, controls have a tendency to wilt in the face of mercantile pressures. After two months with little sign of jasmine at the markets, a few vanloads of the plants, their branches thick with blossoms, began to show up at wholesale centers last week. They were priced so low, the buyers could not resist. One retailer, who asked that only her surname, Cui, be printed, acknowledged that the original order had not been officially lifted but that the authorities had yet to interfere.
Another vendor waved away talk of revolution and broke into a rendition of “Mo Li Hua,” a version of which was played each time medals were presented during the 2008 Olympics in Beijing:
A beautiful jasmine flower,
A beautiful jasmine flower,
Perfumed blossoms fill the branch,
Fragrant and white for everyone’s delight.
Let me come and pick a blossom
To give to someone,
Jasmine flower, oh jasmine flower.
Zé Cláudio at TEDx, November 2010, Transcript & Translation.
Eu vou iniciar a minha palestra contando uma história do local onde eu vivo, do meu município, e um pouco da minha história de vida até a data de hoje.
Em 97, foi criado no município de Nova Ipixuna o primeiro PAE, Projeto de Assentamento Extrativista, Praia Alta Piranheira.
A gente tinha uma cobertura vegetal de 85% de floresta nativa a qual concentrava castanha e cupuaçu.
Hoje, com a chegada das madeireiras, das gozeiras que chegaram para Marabá. Hoje, resta pouco mais de 20% dessa cobertura já fragmentada em muitos lugares.
É um desastre para quem vive do extrativismo como eu, que sou castanheiro desde os 7 anos de idade. Vivo da floresta, protejo ela de todo o jeito.
Por isso eu vivo com a bala na cabeça a qualquer hora. Porque eu vou para cima, eu denuncio os madeireiros, denuncio os carvoeiros, e por isso eles acham que eu não posso existir.
A mesma coisa que fizeram no Acre com o Chico Mendes, querem fazer comigo. A mesma coisa que fizeram com a Irmã Dorothy, querem fazer comigo.
Eu posso estar hoje aqui, conversando com vocês, daqui a um mês, vocês podem saber a notícia que eu desapareci.
Me pergunto: tenho medo? Tenho. Sou ser humano, tenho medo. Mas, o meu medo não empata de eu ficar calado!
Enquanto eu tiver força para andar, eu estarei denunciando todos aqueles que prejudicam a floresta!
Essa ... essas árvores que têm na Amazônia, são as minhas irmãs. Eu sou filho da floresta. Eu vivo delas, dependo delas, faço parte delas.
Quando eu vejo uma árvore dessas em cima de um caminhão indo para a serraria, me dá uma dor. É o mesmo de eu estar vendo um cotejo fúnebre levando o ente mais querido que você tem!
Por quê? É vida.
É vida para mim, que vivo na floresta, é vida para todos vocês que vivem nos centros urbanos. Porque ela está lá purificando o ar. Ela está lá dando o retorno para nós.
E o desmando, por causa de um conjunto de gentes que só pensam no capital, pensam só neles, não pensam nas futuras gerações, não pensam em nada, estão fazendo o quê estão fazendo no nosso município.
É uma vergonha porque não se acha uma ação corajosa para resolver esse problema.
Esse é o entrave. O meu objetivo, como eu vivo da floresta, como eu sobrevivo dela - essa castanheira, como eu sou castanheiro desde pequeno, vendia "in natura".
Como o preço despencou, e eu tenho que sobreviver, agora eu estou industrializando ela no meu próprio lote. Eu faço óleo, um óleo de primeira qualidade, rico em selênio, bom para fazer todo o tipo de comida, frituras e tudo, e se usa como óleo de oliva na salada.
O resíduo chama-se bagaço, se faz sorvete, biscoito, o quê a sua imaginação der para fazer para comer.
Isso já está indo para o mercado aos poucos. O pessoal da universidade, pessoal da CPP, CNS, Belém, estão me comprando direto esse óleo, porque além de ser bom para comer, é ótimo remédio. Como vocês sabem, que o selênio combate câncer.
Agregando valor à floresta. A floresta, ela tem que ser preservada de qualquer maneira porque tudo que existe na floresta é rentável e dá dinheiro.
Eu sou artesão em cipó. Se o negócio está preto, eu vou lá e tiro o cipó e faço 10 cestas. Eu faço 100 reais, dez cestas que eu faço num dia. Cestinha pequena. Se for uma cesta maior, se faz 20 reais de uma para outra, faz 200 reais.
E ela está lá, continua me dando. No dia que eu quero, eu vou lá e apanho.
Agora, o cara só acha que ela só dá recurso se for derrubada, se for queimada, se produzir carvão. Isso me deixa triste.
Agora eu vou fazer um pedido para vocês todos que estão aqui. Quando vocês forem comprar alguma coisa que seja derivada de madeira, que seja derivada da floresta, procurem a origem. Só assim nós vamos começar a frear uma coisa que a gente não consegue lá no mato.
Se você começar a dizer não para as madeiras duvidosas, que não tem procedência, que não tem origem, o mercado começará a enfraquecer e eles verão que não está dando mais resultado. Ou eles se enquadram dentro da lei, ou fecham as portas.
Agora, enquanto existirem quem compre madeira ilegal, quem compre coisas ilegais vindas da floresta, isso vai continuar.
E quem vai ficar perdendo? Somos nós que vivemos na floresta, e vocês que, mais tarde não terão, porque ela acabará um dia.
E se acabar, como é que o pessoal, como é que nós vamos viver? Primeiro de tudo: acaba a água. Não vai dar mais alimento. Vai faltar a chuva, como já foi falado aqui, pelos outros palestrantes que me antecederam.
São coisas para pensar, são coisas para a gente colocar a cabeça no travesseiro e ficar pensando. É viável desmatar? Não! Ela é viável em pé!
É uma coisa que você não água, você não coloca adubo, você só tem o trabalho de ir buscar o quê ela produz.
Lá, na minha pequena propriedade, eu produzo óleo de castanha, manteiga de cupuaçu, polpa de cupuaçu, faço artesanato em cipó e em madeira, agora.
Eu aproveito as madeiras que a natureza derruba. As que a natureza põe no chão para mim, eu vou lá e aproveito ela e, no lugar daquela que caiu, eu planto outra.
Porque no dia em que eu me for, vai ficar a minha continuidade aí, ficarão outras pessoas que virão e querem a mesma coisa que eu tenho hoje.
Então, a floresta é sustentável duas vezes mais em pé do que derrubada, porque quando você derruba, você só tem uma vez, e quando você deixa ela em pé, você tem ela para sempre.
Você tem hoje, amanhã. Você vai embora, ficam outras pessoas que vão se usufruir do mesmo jeito que você, e vai viver bem.
Será possível que é esse aí o futuro da Amazônia? Será possível que esse aqui é o futuro do planeta?
Eu acho que isso, nós não queremos, nem hoje. E os que vêm depois? Pegarão uma coisa dessas? Desfigurada, morta?
É coisa para analisar, é coisa para pensar. Se é isso que nós queremos.
Não! Está nas nossas mãos e a gente tem o futuro pela frente e deve decidir se nós queremos isso aí, ou aquela imagem primeira, que foi colocada.
I am going to start my talk by telling you a story about the place where I live, my town, and by telling you a little bit about my life story up to today.
In 1997, in the town of Nova Ipixuna, the first PAE was created, Agro-extractivist Settlement Project, Praia Alta Piranheira.
We had 85% of the original forest canopy, mostly castanha (cachew nut) and cupuaçu (related to cacao).
Today, with the arrival of the loggers and pig iron producers from Marabá. Today there is little more than 20% of this canopy remaining, already broken up in many places.
It is a disaster for those who live by harvesting, such as myself - I have been gathering nuts since I was seven years of age. I live from the forest, I protect her in every way I can.
For this I am ... I live with a bullet in my head at any time. Because I stand up, I denounce the loggers, I denounce the charcoal makers, and for this they think that I cannot exist.
The same thing they did to Chico Mendes in the state of Acre, They want to do with me. The same thing they did to Sister Dorothy, they want to do with me.
I may be here today, talking with you, and a month from now, you may hear the news that I've gone, disappeared.
I ask myself: Am I scared? I am. I am a human being, I get scared. But my fear won't make me shut my mouth.
As long as I have the power to walk I will be denouncing all of those who are harming the forest.
This, these trees that we have in Amazonia are my sisters. I am a son of the forest. I live from them. I depend on them. I am part of them.
When I see one of these trees on top of a truck going to the sawmill it gives me a pain. It is the same as if you were watching the funeral procession carrying the most cherished friend you have.
Why? Because it is life.
It is life for me who lives in the forest. It is life for all of you in urban centres. Because she is there, purifying the air. She is giving something to us in return.
And the destruction is because a group of people who only think of capital, who think only of themselves and not of future generations or anything else, are doing what they are doing in our municipality.
It's a shame because nobody takes the brave step to solve this problem.
This is the obstacle. My objective, as I live from the forest, I survive because of her - this nut tree, as I am a keeper-of-nut-trees, I have collected nuts since I was small - is to sell them 'naturally'.
As prices have fallen, and I have to survive, now I am industrializing her on my own piece of land. I produce oil, an oil of the first quality, rich in Selenium, good for making all kinds of food, for frying ... everything, and to use like olive oil in a salad.
The residue, called bagasse, makes ice cream, cookies, it just takes imagination to see what you can make to eat.
It is getting to market little by little. People at the university, people at CPP, at CNS, in Belém, are buying this oil directly from me; because in addition to being good to eat, it is also good medicine. As you know, Selenium fights cancer.
Adding value to the forest. The forest must be saved any way we can, because everything in the forest is productive and brings money.
I am a liana vine craftsman. If business is bad, I get some liana vine and make 10 baskets. I make 100R$ from 10 baskets, Which I make in one day. If it's a little basket. If it's a bigger one, I make 20R$ each, 200R$ a day.
And she is there continually giving to me. On the day that I need it I go there and get it.
Now, some guy thinks that it can only provide resources if it is cut down, if it's burned, if he makes charcoal. This makes me sad.
Now I am going to make a request of all of you here. When you go to buy some thing that may come from timber, that may come from the forest - check the origin. Only in this way can we put the brakes on something which we cannot stop from there in the jungle.
If you start saying "No!" to black market wood that doesn't have papers, with an unknown origin, then the market will begin to weaken and they will see that they are no longer getting the results they want. Either they sell within the law or they close up shop.
As long as there is anyone who buys illegal timber, who buys things coming illegally from the forest, this will continue.
And who loses? It is we who live in the forest, and you who later on will not have the forest, because one day the forest will run out.
And if it ends how will people, how are we going to live? First of all, the water will be gone. Then food will not grow. We won't have enough rain, as has already been talked about here by other speakers before me.
These are things to think about, things to put in our head on the pillow and sleep on. It it viable if we cut it down? No. It's viable if we leave it standing on its feet.
It's something you don't have to water or fertilize. All you have to do is go there and gather what it produces.
There, on my small piece of land, I produce nut oil, cupuaçu butter and pulp, I make crafts with liana vine and timber.
I take advantage of wood that nature throws out. That nature puts on the ground for me, and I go there and use it, and where one tree falls I plant another.
Because when I am gone, it will be my legacy, other people will come and they will want the same thing I have today.
The forest is twice as sustainable standing up as it is cut down, because when you cut it down you only have it once, and when you leave her standing up you have her forever.
You have her today, tomorrow; you go away, other people will stay who enjoy the forest in the same way as you, and they will live well.
Is it possible that this will be the future of the Amazon? Is it possible that this will be the future of the planet?
I don't think we want this, not today. How about those who will come next? Will they inherit something like this? Disfigured? Dead?
It's something for us to analyze, It's something to think about - if this is what we want.
No! It's in our hands and we have the future ahead of us and we must decide if it's this that we want, or that picture I showed at the beginning.
Thank you very much.
Brigette DePape - Press Release, June 3 2011.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, June 3, 2011
Senate Page disrupts Throne Speech
Harper's disastrous agenda needs to be stopped with creative action and civil disobedience
Ottawa - During the reading of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's throne speech today, a young page was yanked from the Senate Chamber as she tried to hold up a stop sign placard reading "Stop Harper."
"Harper's agenda is disastrous for this country and for my generation," Brigette Marcelle says. "We have to stop him from wasting billions on fighter jets, military bases, and corporate tax cuts while cutting social programs and destroying the climate. Most people in this country know what we need are green jobs, better medicare, and a healthy environment for future generations."
Brigette Marcelle*, 21 and a recent graduate from University of Ottawa, has been a Page in the Senate for a year, but realized that working within parliament wouldn't stop Harper's agenda.
"Contrary to Harper's rhetoric, Conservative values are not in fact Canadian values. How could they be when 3 out of 4 eligible voters didn't even give their support to the Conservatives? But we will only be able to stop Harper's agenda if people of all ages and from all walks of life engage in creative actions and civil disobediance," she says.
"This country needs a Canadian version of an Arab Spring, a flowering of popular movements that demonstrate that real power to change things lies not with Harper but in the hands of the people, when we act together in our streets, neighbourhoods and workplaces."
It wasn't a waste of time, Brigette DePape, July 17 2010.
During the G20 ministerial meetings in Toronto, the sensational images of burning police cruiser cars and broken shop windows dominated the newspaper headlines. This is what the world saw.
What I saw in Toronto was radically different.
On June 21, I travelled to Toronto in a van filled with activists and journalists from around the country to participate in protests at the G20 meetings. Using brightly colored rainbow paint, we displayed our concerns with the G20 agenda on the doors and bumpers of our caravan. From "Shut Down the Tar Sands" to "Sign the UN Convention on the Right to Water", our messages expressed our beliefs that issues central to our vision of a more just and sustainable world are being ignored by the leaders of the G20.
The protests in Toronto were part of a much larger effort to question the inequality of the status quo. A network of civil society groups, known as the anti-globalization or alter-globalization movement, hold values rooted in anti-corporate and anti-colonial struggle. Seeing the images of broken windows and flaming cars constantly repeated by the media was demoralizing because it was a distraction from the serious issues to which peaceful protestors were trying to draw attention. What made Toronto truly important and memorable were educational forums and lectures by well-known activists like Naomi Klein and Maude Barlow and creative and peaceful demonstrations. However, these aspects of the Toronto protests were virtually ignored by the media.
At the height of Saturday's protests, I saw 25,000 Canadians exercising their political agency in a way I have never before seen. It was truly inspiring and it brought me hope to know that so many people care about these issues and are doing something about it.
Returning to Winnipeg meant coming back to everyday reality. My dad told me that protesting at the G20 was unproductive and ineffective. I was crushed. Suddenly, riding in my parents' car, I felt powerless.
In Toronto, discussing alternatives in the caravan with other activists, and holding my sign proudly on the streets of Toronto, I felt like we were changing things. But at home I began to question whether or not we were making any difference at all. Perhaps we just had the illusion of change because we were surrounded by like-minded people. When my dad asked me "what did the protests change?" I didn't have an answer. They certainly did not change the G20 agenda.
But my question for him and his generation is: what will change things, then? If protesting is meaningless, as he suggests, what can we do to create a more just society?
Surely my parents and others are concerned about the same issues we are. But what are they doing about it? Too often they don't challenge them directly and they don't encourage their kids to do so either. My dad reminds me that some choose to work quietly at incremental change rather than taking to the streets. But has that worked?
Would it be better if people did not protest at all? What if we all stayed in our comfortable homes, transfixed to our big-screen TVs, ignoring the reality around us? Should we really just accept the status quo that makes the poor poorer and allows the environmental destruction that is ruining our planet?
Where are all the people who protested in the 1960s and 1970s who inspired many of today's activists? Have they given up on fighting for their ideals? I fear that too many people from my parents' generation have abandoned their ideals because they think eliminating poverty or weaning ourselves off our oil addiction just isn't "realistic".
Not only is protesting important, it is our fundamental right. Many of my friends were denied this right when the police unlawfully detained them in appalling conditions for protesting peacefully, more specifically, for holding hands in a semi-circle. In order to preserve our right and ensure this does not happen again, a public inquiry into police conduct and detainee conditions is absolutely essential.
I don't agree with my dad and others that say our efforts were a waste of time. Protesting the G20 gave activists from across the country the opportunity to learn and network, as well as express and raise awareness about their discontent with current systems and policies.
Protesting was undoubtedly better than doing nothing at all, and incremental changes alone are not making the impact necessary. Were past protests for civil rights, women's rights and worker's rights a waste of time? Just a hundred years ago women's right to vote did not seem realistic either. But like speaking out against the tar sands, fighting for the right to water, and calling for an end to poverty, it was necessary. Protesting made it a reality.
Brigette DePape is a summer intern at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Manitoba and is completing a degree in international development at the University of Ottawa.