Eucalyptus plantations: affected communities

Eucalyptus plantations: affected communities

By Ecological Action

Brazil is a country that currently has five million hectares of eucalyptus planted. At the same time, part of the plantations is converted into coal, which generates energy for the steel industry.

The community experience in brazil

Brazil is a country that currently has five million hectares of eucalyptus planted. At the same time, part of the plantations is converted into coal, which generates energy for the steel industry. Without heeding any objections, President Lula presented a proposal: that by 2012 6 million hectares of new eucalyptus plantations be planted.

Eucalyptus has been planted in Brazil for more than 30 years. The local populations have already suffered its impacts and that is why they have undertaken a process of recovery of their territories. To do this, they execute several self-sustaining agricultural projects, with which they face the imposition of this monoculture.

In Ecuador, on the other hand, it is from the year 2000 that the implantation of eucalyptus monocultures began on the coast. Esmeraldas, an area of ​​tropical humid forest, is the affected province. The industrial purpose is the same as in Brazil: the production of paper pulp, but after exporting the raw material to Japan. The project is executed by the Eucapacific company, formed by a consortium of multinationals: Mitsubishi Paper Mils, Sumitomo Corporation, Electric Power Development and Waltz International.

Five years into the project, the social and environmental impacts of the plantation are very serious. The affected local communities face this problem through their organization and social mobilization.

This reality made urgent a Brazil-Ecuador contact to strengthen the Ecuadorian organizational processes in the fight against transnational imposition. This exchange was part of the initiatives of the Latin American Network against Tree Monocultures (RECOMA).

The opportunity to live this experience was realized - at the invitation of the Federation of Organs for Social and Educational Assistance (FASE) to an Ecuadorian delegation. It was made up of representatives of the Confederation of Peoples of the Kichwa Nationality of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI), the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE), Ecological Action and the Ecological Defense Foundation (FUNDECOL). The visit to Brazil took place from May 16 to June 5, 2005.

What is cellulose? ...

Cellulose is a vegetable fiber that represents 50% of the physical constitution of the tree. The chemical structure of cellulose is formed by the binding of glucose molecules, attached to each other by lignin. This substance strengthens the cells, giving them consistency and rigidity.

Every tree has cellulose fibers, which is why, practically, paper can be produced from any tree. Fibers from trees make up more than 90% of pulp production worldwide.

Eucalyptus is used for this purpose because it grows fast and is more docile in the industrial process of separating the fibers.

The production of a ton of bleached pulp requires about 120,000 liters of water, more than 20 trees from a plantation (approximately 4.8 cubic meters of wood) and 1.2 megawatt hours of electricity.

Industrial process:

The wood is chopped into small pieces, known as chips. In order for the wood fibers to separate from each other, the chips are introduced, together with chemicals, into hot water and steam at high temperatures in equipment called a "digester". This is like a big pressure cooker.

Once the cellulose fibers, which have a dark brown color due to the chemical process to which they have been subjected, are separated, they go through a washing process. This wash is to remove the chemicals used in the process.

After washing, the cellulose still has that dark color, so it goes to the bleaching phase, divided into several steps, at the end of which the pulp is ready to be industrially converted into paper.

There are industries that make cellulose and paper, but in the specific case of the Brazilian company Aracruz, it only deals with their manufacture to be sent to Europe and the United States.

In order for the pasta to be sent to its destination, it undergoes a drying process. Then a slitting machine will turn the cellulose into a six meter long sheet. The cutter does its work at a speed of 180 meters per second; Every two minutes, two tons of pulp are cut in a machine.

Once that is done, the cellulose is collected in bales of 2,050 sheets. Four bales weigh one ton. Said bales are shipped abroad.

The aracruz cellulose company

Aracruz Celulosa: is a eucalyptus plantation and cellulose production company. Its investors are:

Lorentzen Group: Norwegian capital that contributes 28% of the total investment.

Votorantim Celulosa y Papel: owned by one of the richest men in Brazil, Antonio Eminio de Morais. He owns 28% of the shares.

Safra Banks: Brazilian capital, which has 28% investment.

BNDES: National Bank for Economic and Social Development. That is, the capital of the Brazilian state has 12.5% ​​investment.

Aracruz Celulosa was established in 1967 in the municipality of Aracruz, in the state of Espíritu Santo, and began the occupation of land for its plantations through various mechanisms:

Invasion of territories belonging to indigenous peoples, the Afro-Brazilian Quilombola people and, in general, the peasants of the region.

Purchase of land from owners large and small.

Agreements between the state and the company, which affect eminently productive lands.

By 1972, the company expanded the plantations to the Municipality of San Mateo and Concepción de la Barra, in Espíritu Santo.

The company has purchased 155,000 hectares in Espíritu Santo. It also has properties in Bahia, Rio Grande do Sul and Minas Gerais, totaling 375,000 hectares. Of these, 245,000 hectares have been planted with eucalyptus.

In addition, Aracruz Celulosa in the state of Espíritu Santo has an enormous industrial plant. It also has three factories that produce 2,000,000 tons of cellulose per year. The third factory of that plant was built, with a state investment of four hundred and twenty thousand million dollars during the government of Fernando Enrique Cardoso. The argument for this investment was that 173 jobs would be created. Three months later, 58 civil servants were dismissed, which is a confirmation that it is not true that such a high investment is justified on the grounds of "generating employment".

Additionally, in the Cardoso period, a pulp mill was purchased in Rio Grande Del Sur that produces 400,000 tons per year.

To build the fifth pulp mill, Aracruz S. A. partnered with Stora-Enso (a Finnish-Swedish multinational) forming Veracel Celulosa. This factory is located in the state of Bahia.

The company exports 97% of its pulp production to two large transnational companies that consume 55% of its pulp: Kimberley-Clark and Procter & Gamble to make luxury disposable paper.

Work at aracruz cellulosa

President Lula, with economic resources from the Brazilian state, financed the construction of the fourth pulp mill in Aracruz, through the Veracel company. 50% of this company belongs to Aracruz, even though the state contributed four hundred and twenty billion, two hundred and ten thousand dollars. It is the largest investment in the state for private companies. The factory was built in the South of Bahia.

Until 1991 the company had 7,095 direct workers. Then, gradually, it began a process of massive layoffs, until it had two thousand thirty-one direct employees and 6,776 indirect employees in 2004, according to data from the Aracruz company itself. Indirect or outsourced workers receive a third of the salary of a worker hired directly by the company. In addition, they do not have health plans, they do not receive overtime, they do not have a social security plan and they are exposed to being victims of all kinds of employer abuse.

Testimony of Jair Alves de Lima (former employee of the company)

“In 1977 I started working at Aracruz Celulosa. I worked as an administrator of the eucalyptus cutting sector. In Aracruz they imposed a regime of slavery on us. For example, the families of workers killed by accidents at work were not compensated and, to prevent the relatives from reporting these abuses to the Justice, they threatened them with prison or murder. "

“In various sectors of the earth, poisons such as methyl bromide were used among other agrochemicals. These products were the ones that caused most of the deaths. The people who applied these chemicals suffered from health problems for 8 or 10 years. Those who died immediately from applying these poisons were hidden in the field, in the eucalyptus bushes, and were buried at night so that Justice would not find out what was happening. The Company paid a doctor who signed a false death certificate indicating that the worker had died of “cardiac arrest”. This document was the only thing that was given to the relatives. "

“I myself suffered an accident on June 20, 1980. A eucalyptus tree fell on me and broke my leg. I was disabled for a year. After that, I went back to work, and since I could no longer bear to work under these conditions, the company fired me. "

“When I went to court to claim my rights, Aracruz sent me to kill and until today I have a trial in Concepción de la Barra. The company bought the judges and my process has been stopped for eight years. "

“Today I have 84 companions. Some are blind because they worked in other sectors. Some more, bones were broken in chainsaw accidents and others were poisoned with benzene, a fuel they used, mixed with gasoline, to increase the performance of the chainsaw. After a while of using this mixture, it produces a disease called leusemia - a decrease in white blood cells that slowly kills. We have 35 colleagues that the company left on the street without the right to any compensation. "

“A technician from Sweden warned the company that if it continued to use benzene, it would have to compensate all personnel working on chainsaw cutting. They were a total of 830 people. Many have already died from benzene poisoning, and those who are alive are slowly dying because it is a degenerative disease. These colleagues can no longer enter the job market. They don't get a job because they can't pass the health exam. Today, the widows of those who have already died are supported by the help of the communities. "

“When I denounced in Brasilia in the National Congress that the Company was part of organized crime, Aracruz sent hitmen to kill me. One time, I caught one of them and confirmed that it was the Aracruz company that hired them. They wanted to kill us just to not pay us. It is the meanest company on the face of the earth! "

"Along with the 84 people fired, we are currently appealing to Justice for those who are mutilated or have fatal diseases."

Eucalyptus and its impacts on water

According to Luis Alberto Soares, one of the authors of the book "Promises of employment and destruction of work - the case of Aracruz Celulosa in Brazil-", Paolo de Tarzo, one of the largest forestry authorities in Brazil - favorable to the cultivation of eucalyptus - says that this tree, in its growth phase, consumes too much water. Other forestry engineers claim that each eucalyptus tree consumes… 200 liters of water per day! In each hectare 1,100 eucalyptus trees are planted, which means that a hectare of this type of plantation consumes daily… 220,000 liters of water!

The growth phase of eucalyptus spans its first 10 years. During this period, the eucalyptus consumes the greatest amount of water, Aracruz harvests the eucalyptus at six years, that is, in full development and when the consumption of this vital liquid is greater.

Eucalyptus adulthood starts from its first decade of life. Only then does it consume the same amount of water as any other tree. Meanwhile, eucalyptus, compared to other plant species, is the tree that requires the most water. If a modest amount were enough to survive, it would allow the other species to have enough liquid for themselves as well. Unfortunately the reality is just the reverse.

The aracruz pulp mill and water

The Aracruz pulp mill consumes a quantity of water similar to that required by a city of two and a half million inhabitants per day (the city of Guayaquil, for example, in the Ecuadorian case). Aracruz needs between 40 and 50 cubic meters of water to produce a ton of cellulose. To produce 3,500 tons of pulp per day, it consumes 1,750,000 cubic meters of water.

In the Municipality of Aracruz, the factory with that name began operating in 1976. To supply water to its pulp mill, the company dammed three rivers (Santa Juana, Santa Maria and Doce).

In 1997, the state government of Espíritu Santo invested $ 1,050,000 to open a canal of approximately 50 kilometers. Their objective was to divert the water from the Doce River to the Comboyos River. The water flow is conducted to the company's dam. Its purpose: to supply the water demand of the pulp mill.

The aforementioned diversion brought serious environmental and social problems for the local communities. Mixing the water increases the volume of the Comboyos River and floods one of the few pieces of agricultural land of the Tupinikim. The territory of the Tupinikim indigenous people today is mostly planted with eucalyptus. Another part is on the seashore; therefore, these lands cannot be cultivated. Thus, as agricultural land, only the banks of the Comboyos River remain. This territory is constantly flooded by Aracruz by releasing the water from the Doce River and joining it with the Comboyos when the factory needs it for its production.

On the other hand, the Comboyos River was the source of clean water for the use of the Tupinikim population and other peoples settled on its banks (bathing, fishing for domestic use and recreation). The Rio Doce, upstream, has a high degree of chemical pollution, caused mainly by mining. As a result, the Tupinikim have many health problems, mainly skin problems, and serious feeding problems: they no longer have fishing or arable land.

The peoples affected by aracruz cellulose

The Quilombolas: An Afro-Brazilian People Always Rebellious

The Quilombola towns are located in the extreme north of Espíritu Santo, in the San Pedro del Norte region. It includes part of the municipality of Concepción de la Barra and San Mateus. Its history begins in the 16th century, when Africans were subjected to a cruel hunt and taken to Brazil to work as slaves on the estates of the region. Most of the Quilombolas descend from the Banto nation of Africa, free and courageous people.

The slaves who managed to flee from the farms took refuge for centuries in the Atlantic jungle. Protected by the dense jungle and the mighty rivers, the Quilombolas lived free. But, in the last three decades, history has changed. At the beginning of the seventies, Aracruz Celulosa violently began a process of appropriation of the quilombola lands. With military support, and through pressure on land tenure, Aracruz forced the quilombolas who had property documents to sell their land. For example, if the purchase of land were 5 hectares, Aracruz appropriated 10. From those who did not have property titles, the company seized the territories with violent evictions.

The invasion of the Quilombola territory by Aracruz, and the consequent planting of thousands of hectares with eucalyptus, has caused the expulsion of thousands of families to the outskirts of the cities. At the beginning of the 1970s there were more than 10,000 families in San Pedro del Norte. Today there are only 1,500 left.

Few people live and resist in the middle of the eucalyptus, mostly women with small children. They know that when their children grow up they will have to migrate to the cities because they no longer have land to produce their food because the Atlantic forest disappeared and the rivers dried up. The little water that remains is contaminated with pesticides used in eucalyptus plantations. The land is arid; This represents the death of that people, because in the cities, the young quilombolas swell the belts of poverty, join gangs and can become criminals.

The Tupinikim and Guaraní experience

The Tupinikim:

The Tupinikim are an ancestral indigenous people settled in the coastal region that extends from Sao Paulo to the south of Bahia. This strip of land corresponds to what we know today as the State of Espiritu Santo. An estimated population of 55,000 people lived here when the Portuguese arrived in 1500.

Once the process of colonization and conquest began, the Portuguese strategy consisted of organizing the indigenous people into villages and converting them to Christianity. In this way they guaranteed their occupation of the territory, as well as a constant reserve of slave labor.

In 1610 the then captaincy of Espíritu Santo granted the Tupinikim an extension of land, sesmaria (amount of land, ceded by the King of Portugal), of 61 km of coastline and 37 km of the coast inland. This sesmaria was demarcated in 1760.

In 1856 a statistical map of the region records a population of 3,558 people belonging to the Tupinikim people. They were decimated by the Portuguese conquerors and in the 20th century by logging companies.

The Guarani:

The Guaraní travel the world looking for "The Land Without Evil." They believe that their god, Tupa Nhanderu, is going to rescue them and take them to an island paradise in the center of the sea. That is why they are located on the shores of the Atlantic; on the central and southern coast, in the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Paraná, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Espíritu Santo.

In 1960 Tatanti led the Guaraní people from the south to the Caieiras Velhas region in the municipality of Aracruz. Here they asked the Tupinikim for permission to stay, since then they have lived with them in harmony.

When Tatanti died, his daughter Aurora assumed the spiritual leadership of the Guaraní people. Now his son, Toninio is the chief of the village.

Aracruz invades Tupinikim and Guaraní territory

The Aracruz Celulosa company started in 1970. According to information from the National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES), Aracruz received all kinds of incentives from the federal and state governments. He invaded the territories with violence, murdering the indigenous people and all those who opposed the company. They entered with deception, threats, harassment and promises to create jobs. They also caused disasters in the environment and caused the loss of biodiversity in rivers, territory and fauna. But above all they caused the destruction of the peoples and their cultural values, since before there were 30 indigenous communities and today there are only seven left. Most of the people from the villages migrated to the cities. The families that remained say they could not even communicate with each other, because the company had private guards that prohibited them from walking within the planted area, hunting and fishing. If they entered, they were taken prisoner.

Resistance actions

The Guaraní and Tupinikim indigenous peoples have been fighting for the recovery of their territories for decades. They are currently running a national and international campaign with the support of environmental groups, indigenous and non-governmental organizations. In this context, the Ecuadorian delegation represented by Gonzalo Guzmán (Ecuarunari) and Edith Cheme (Fundecol) actively participated in the self-demarcation of the territory of the peoples (Tupinikim and Guaraní).

The self-demarcation of the territory was 11,008 hectares, to complete the total of the indigenous territory of 18,070 hectares. determined by a study by Funai (Indigenous Development Fund of Brazil), since in the year 1981 4,491has were demarcated. and the year 1.998 2. 570 has.

This demarcation was carried out for five days, with the support and solidarity of FASE, MST, MPA, Red Contra el Desierto Verde, Quilombolas People, parliamentary advisers, human rights organizations, Lutheran Church, Catholic Church (Comboni Missionaries) and deputies of the Workers' Party.

We participated in a massive march, with the presence of more than 500 people representing all these sectors, while the indigenous people continued with their self-demarcation. During the march there were several interventions by deputies, popular leaders and the delegation of Ecuador. The action taken by indigenous people is more than legitimate in terms of the recovery of their territory. To start the fighting actions they had a long process of meetings in order to analyze strategies. The commission of chiefs and leaders (Tupinikim and Guaraní) drew up an open letter to the Minister of Justice demanding respect for the self-demarcation of the territory. The indigenous peoples have a provision in the Constitution of the Republic that prohibits local authorities from confiscating or intervening in indigenous lands.

300 people participated in the demarcation, including men, children and a large number of women. When the police arrived, a group of indigenous warriors with their own weapons, such as arrows, spears, machetes and clubs, stood in front of the police to prevent any kind of repression.

300 people accompanied the indigenous people as they made the demarcation with chainsaws and machetes, proceeding to cut the eucalyptus trees in two rows. At this time the area is self-demarcated, for which they first made the marking with topographic equipment and GPS. The big question is how to make the occupation and legitimacy viable before the authorities, for which political and public pressure has been planned.

The self-demarcation began on May 16, and the occupation of their territories was carried out on the 31st of the same month.

Minas Gerais

We were received by the Minas Gerais Agricultural Workers Union, at the Reference Center of the Peoples of Minas Gerais (SRG). This is a farm called Ágape that has an area of ​​800 hectares. It was owned by a landowner who gave it in agreement to the Church. The latter contacted the Union so that the unemployed people of the city could carry out agricultural activities. In seven months, the Union managed to harvest 70 sacks of corn, and plant sugarcane, cassava, coffee and bananas. He also raises small animals for the basic sustenance of the families. The organization also cultivates medicinal plants and fruit trees throughout its territory. Currently 23 families are working on it: All this is an initiative to demonstrate that it can be faced with eucalyptus and agribusiness, and that it can be done through diversified agricultural production, both for commercialization and for self-consumption.

The eucalyptus today

The state of Minas Gerais has a total of 2,000,000 hectares. of eucalyptus plantations. In the north of Minas there are 1,000,000. These are harvested to make charcoal, used as an energy source for the steel industry in Belo Horizonte. Every day the industry consumes 1,000 trucks of coal. Each one carries 100 cubic meters, for a total of 100,000 cubic meters.

Little employment is generated in the coal mills, in degrading conditions and with a lot of child labor.

In Minas Gerais, eucalyptus plantations started in the 1970s. The State signed lease contracts with the companies for the use of the so-called “wasteland”, for a value of 15 real cents per annual hectare. Those contracts were in force for 23 years.

Six months before the end of the contract, the State had the obligation to notify the company of its completion. But this did not happen, so the contract was automatically renewed for another 23 years.

Such renewal did not happen in all cases. For example, in the municipality of Río Pardo de Minas, in Bahía Grande and Chacra, the community organized to demand that the lands be returned to their true owners.

The community has to recover a total of 6,000 hectares. which, according to the agreement, will be returned by the CERDAU company in parcels with the following plan:

890 hectares were initially returned. and by October 2005, 300 hectares should be delivered. In December, 200 has. more, and, in two and a half years -that is, in 2007-, when all the eucalyptus is removed, the 4,500 hectares would have to be returned. remaining.

But the 6,000 has. of land that will be returned by the CERDAU company is land already worn down by eucalyptus plantations. In addition, to return the land, the company asked for compensation of R $ 11,000,000, which the State refused to disburse. But, in exchange, the government gave him 12,000 hectares. productive in the neighboring municipality of Sao Joao do Paraíso, another area of ​​the Cerrado (savanna forest with wild vegetation)

Due to the merciless action of the company, the watersheds began to dry up and the lowlands became arid and uncultivable. The community then began to organize to recover the land.

Why does eucalyptus cause drought?

When the plantations arrived, the water ran out for the following reasons:

1. The irresponsible construction of highways and “fire-cut paths” (supposedly serve to prevent the spread of fires). In order to reduce costs, these constructions did not have gutters for conducting water.

2. On the short-fire roads, many machinery traveled. These removed the earth that, when mixed with the rainwater, blocked the banks of the rivers.

3. By exchanging native vegetation for eucalyptus trees, the water does not penetrate the soil but rather runs off, preventing the natural infiltration of water into the land and underground streams.

4. In the thousands of has. from the Cerrado, where around 800 eucalyptus trees are planted per hectare, the water is totally consumed by the plantations.

The closed ones

The "closed" (savanna forests with wild vegetation) are important sources of water. These plateaus of dense vegetation work like a sponge. The native vegetation that the Cerrado has is creeping, medium and tall. The tall vegetation receives the rainwater in the treetops, water that slides down to the creeping vegetation and, later, seeps into the ground, from where it then springs up into the water sources. From there it is distributed to the lowlands, where the peasants of the area have their crops. The lands of the Cerrado were never used by the peasants to cultivate, but to graze their livestock and to provide themselves with medicinal plants, fruits, wood, fishing and hunting.

The Cerrado is an ecosystem of great biological diversity. Among its multiple animal species it has the tatú, the turkey, the deer, the partridge, the wolf, the guará, the capybara, the parrot, the preá, the coelho, the prawn, the fox, the teú and the mountain cat. In addition, the snake, the river fish, the traira, the catfish, the tilapia, the pacú, the iñanbú, the toucan, the juriti, the jacú and the parrot grow inside. Medicinal plants, timber species, landín, jatoba, mosambé, palo de Aceite, cosaba, jacaranda and many more grow in the native forest.

Eucalyptus plantations occupied the closed ones, causing the lowlands of the peasants to become arid. This occupation was carried out in a violent way: the company surrounded the closed with its tractors, linked to each other with heavy chains. The tractors slowly closed the circle and razed all the native flora and fauna with their chains. At dusk, they lit their lanterns to dazzle and frighten the animals of the forest that were killed with rifle and stick shots.

All families had cattle grazing freely in the field. When the eucalyptus arrived, they not only were left without land and grass to feed their animals, but many of them died from ingesting toxic insecticide waste, abandoned in place by the company.

In the lands that the farmers of Bahía Gbrande and Chacra have managed to recover, they develop a self-sustaining economy. Their crops associate cassava with corn, beans, bananas, coffee and fruit trees. They raise, on the other hand, poultry animals and diverse livestock. This production helps them to improve their diet, as well as for their housing, education and clothing, as well as for the very occasional purchase of vehicles.

With financial support from the Lula government, the community created small cooperatives and centers for the production of cassava starch to make bread. The government buys it for the school breakfast.

The rivero community

In the Municipality of Río Pardo de Minas, in the community of Rivero, 25 families continue to live surrounded by eucalyptus plantations.

Due to these plantations the water ran out. Currently, the community's project is to make a lagoon to catch rainwater. The company had used this method before to irrigate its eucalyptus plantations.

On the other side of this community there were water springs and lagoons that fed the Santana River. La empresa decidió drenar estas fuentes de agua con dos fines: lograr que las familias de la zona se instalaran allí, y tener cerca mano de obra barata. De hecho, la empresa utilizaba a los campesinos como “carboneros” (utilizando el eucalipto como materia prima).

El campamento de “mártires de la tierra prometida”

En febrero del 2005, 45 familias de Bereda Funda, una comunidad, se tomaron la tierra de la empresa Floresta Minas. Allí construyeron sus casas y hoy cultivan la tierra. La empresa se vio obligada, mediante un pacto con dicha comunidad, a comprometer el retiro de los troncos y raíces de los eucaliptos. Los campesinos actualmente esperan el cumplimiento de ese compromiso. Quieren así ampliar la diversidad de sus sembríos.

Según el testimonio de una anciana nativa de esa comunidad, las familias que habitan estas tierras están allí desde hace más de 400 años, cuando proliferaban las minas de oro. Los comerciantes de Bahía y El Salvador, que abastecían las minas, comenzaron a ocupar esas tierras. Por entonces, la gente que salía a Salinas, distante 40 km, tardaba tres días de camino a pie. Los indígenas habitaban en las orillas del nacimiento del río.

Cuentan que antes de la invasión del eucalipto, hace 25 años, había bosque, ganado, muchos animales salvajes y abundante agua.

Luego, cuando la empresa destruyó el bosque, dado que hasta entonces la tierra era muy fértil, la abonaron y las primeras plantas de eucalipto crecieron en apenas siete años.

En la primera plantación, cuando los primeros árboles de eucalipto tenían sólo 70 cms, el agua empezó a disminuir. Al llegar el eucalipto a dos metros altura, el agua de los riachuelos prácticamente se secó. Siete años después, tras la primera cosecha, el agua volvió, aunque en menor caudal. Luego la empresa insistió en plantarlo y el agua nuevamente se agotó.

“En la medida en que se extraen los troncos y las raíces del eucalipto, el agua vuelve a sus vertientes naturales”, comenta un poblador.

Joao Pereira, campesino de 73 años, cuenta que cuando la empresa llegó ofreció que los niños del pueblo tendrían trabajo cuando crecieran. El único resultado real de sus promesas fue el haber sembrado miedo en los pobladores ante la destrucción que los tractores de la empresa cometieron a su paso: los animales huían, el paisaje cambió, y la gente, amedrentada, empezó incluso a perder la orientación, dada la profunda alteración de su entorno físico.

Otra tierra liberada

Durante el año 2002, en el municipio de Indayabira, Estado de Minas Gerais, los campesinos del Sindicato de Trabajadores Rurales 4, junto con el MST, apoderó de 911 has de tierra que había sido preparada para hacer la segunda plantación de eucalipto de la empresa Italmaguinesio.

La policía invadió el campamento, golpeó y apresó a varios compañeros. Los abogados de los trabajadores lograron liberarlos.

Luego los líderes del MST y del Sindicato de Trabajadores Rurales llegaron al lugar de los hechos, tomaron las maquinarias de la empresa y se quedaron con ellas durante 30 días.

La policía invadió nuevamente el campamento de los campesinos. Pero, esta vez, los campesinos reunieron a 300 personas y cercaron el vivero en donde la empresa tenía 2.500.000 plantas de eucalipto clonado. La negociación terminó con la devolución de las plantas a cambio de la liberación de la tierra.

También en Areiao en las comunidades de Riacho de Areia y Agua Boa, se ha desplegado procesos de defensa de los remanentes de cerrados, evitando el cultivo de eucalipto en un área de 4.000 has.

En Sobrado hay otros territorios recuperados y en Burazao hay 15 comunidades que recuperaron tierra degradada por las plantaciones de eucalipto.

El proceso actual de recuperación de la tierra

Existen amplias redes sociales organizadas en el proceso de recuperación y utilización sustentable de 75.000 has de tierras. Pero estas tierras públicas fueron arrendadas a empresas plantadoras de eucalipto. Ventajosamente los contratos de arrendamiento están concluyendo. Y las tierras deben ser entregadas a las familias de campesinos que viven alrededor, para estimular la producción, la seguridad alimentaria y la generación de empleo agrícola, así como para incentivar el sistema agrario y del aprovechamiento de los productos del bosque (uso extractivista).

Los campesinos organizados se proponen, en un plazo de 5 años, la recuperación paulatina de estas 75.000 has para beneficiar a 750 familias. Esto exige, previamente el cumplimiento de las siguientes metas.

AñoNo FamiliasArea Incorporada Has.
Destino de las tierras (Has.)1 Familia100 Familias750 Familias
Parcelas de uso familiar404.00030.000
Parcelas de uso extravista404.00030.000
Reserva Legal202.00015.000

De esta forma las 75.000 has. del cerrado, que hoy están ocupadas por monocultivos de eucalipto serán reincorporadas de manera que garanticen la constitución de por lo menos 15.000 has como área de Reserva Legal.

Cerca de 30.000 has. están destinadas al manejo extractivista y a la recuperación de la vegetación nativa. Las actividades permitidas serán la recolección de plantas medicinales, de frutos y hojas de especies como el pequi, el rufao, el coco, la indaia, y ganado suelto.

Otras 30.000 has se incorporarán en sistemas productivos diversificados, beneficiando prioritariamente a 750 familias de agricultores con poca o ninguna tierra y que hoy viven en situación de grave inseguridad alimentaria.


“Nunca pensamos que al ganar Lula nosotros tendríamos el poder. Lo que sí pensamos es que podríamos avanzar en cuanto a la reforma agraria. El MST no es un partido político; no tenemos vinculación orgánica y no nos sometemos a ninguna estructura partidaria. En el MST tenemos una posición política propia, porque el poder no está en la estructura del sistema; el poder está en la movilización, en nuestra estructura política y en nuestra capacidad organizativa.”

Lo que hoy es el MOVIMIENTO SIN TIERRA (MST), nace el 27 de octubre de 1.985 con acciones determinantes, como los 57 asentamientos en el Estado de Espíritu Santo.

EL MOVIMIENTO DE LOS PEQUEÑOS AGRICULTORES (MPA) nace en Río Grande del Sur en 1996. En la actualidad están organizados en 17 de los 25 estados. El principal objetivo del MPA, junto con los campesinos, es construir un proyecto de desarrollo favorable para los pequeños agricultores, que asegure la continuidad de la vida, la recuperación de antiguas formas de cultivar la tierra y la conservación de semillas, como estrategia para garantizar la soberanía alimentaria.

El MST y el MPA, entre otras organizaciones convocaron en 1996 a una histórica movilización de más de 100 mil personas en Brasilia. Así como a masivas ocupaciones de tierra.

La Unión Democrática Ruralista (UDR), los terratenientes, los gobernadores estatales y funcionarios locales, bajo el amparo de Fernando Enrique Cardoso, lanzaron una contraofensiva, para desprestigiar al MST y a otras organizaciones populares.

Como resultado de esta represión, en 1996 se lleva a cabo la masacre de El Dorado de Carajás, en el estado de Pará, donde la policía militar asesinó a 19 trabajadores sin tierra. Durante los primeros cuatro años del régimen de Cardoso, fueron asesinados 163 trabajadores rurales.

Ahora, en el gobierno de Lula, la seguridad privada de una hacienda mató a cinco campesinos en una ocupación de tierras.

Durante el gobierno de Fernando Enrique Cardoso el gobierno creó una ley previsora, que hasta hoy sirve para impedir la correcta aplicación de la reforma agraria. Dicha ley entrega la última decisión de la tenencia de la tierra al sistema jurídico, quitándole al Instituto De Reforma Agraria (INCRA) la decisión en ese campo. Como resultado, a los campesinos que ocupan las tierras se les impide permanecer en éstas con el argumento de que si lo hacen no será legalizada. Esta ley está en vigencia hasta ahora y la responsabilidad de cambiarla recae en el congreso que actualmente sigue influenciado por los terratenientes.

También durante el gobierno de Cardoso, en 1999 se creó “La Reforma Agraria De Mercado”, mediante la cual se desviaron fondos del INCRA, que debían ser destinados para el apoyo a pequeños agricultores, para “El Banco De La Tierra”. Los fondos de este banco se destinan a comprar tierras de los latifundistas, que lucran con el precio de ésta inflando su valor. Por ejemplo de 10.000 reales que costaba cada hectárea, ahora cuesta 20.000 reales o 8.400 dólares. En definitiva subió el 100% el valor de la tierra. Existe un precio medio de 15.000 reales por hectárea. Esto provoca que los verdaderos beneficiados con la reforma agraria sean los latifundistas.

Estas dos medidas gubernamentales son obstáculos que tornan imposible una verdadera reforma agraria.

En Espíritu Santo existen 86.000 pequeñas propiedades. De éstas, el 82% son de menos de 10 hectáreas. Sin embargo éstas ocupan apenas el 27% del área total de tierras cultivables. Eso demuestra que todavía prevalece la concentración de la tierra en pocas manos.

Al existir gran cantidad de pequeños propietarios, la lucha de clases en Espíritu Santo no es tan visible como ha ocurrido en los estados de Pernambuco, Bahía, Río Grande del Sur o Paraná.

En el Estado de Espíritu Santo hay 65.000 familias sin tierra. La gente que organizó el movimiento, logró que 3.000 familias consigan propiedades. Hay que destacar que las áreas conquistadas tienen un nivel satisfactorio de producción.

Aracruz en el estado de espíritu santo

Aracruz es la empresa transnacional que se convirtió en el principal enemigo de la reforma agraria. Ha provocado serios problemas, porque ella aparece como “la niña de los ojos” del agronegocio, procurando salvar el latifundio. La influencia de Aracruz es una dificultad real para la gente. Vemos cómo el monocultivo de eucalipto es una política de Estado. El MST está enfrentando ese modelo agrícola, que impide la aplicación de otro nuevo modelo que no sea la continuación del capitalismo.

El 17 y 18 de mayo de 2005 el MST realizó una marcha a Brasilia para proponer una transformación en la aplicación de la política agraria. El MST mantiene las movilizaciones para que el Estado escuche y ejecute las demandas de la sociedad.

Proceso organizativo

Ante los efectos sociales y ambientales provocados por los monocultivos de eucalipto, en Brasil desde hace varios años se formó la Red En Contra Del Desierto Verde, que está formada por cientos de organizaciones a nivel nacional. En mayo de 2005 se produjo el cuarto encuentro nacional de la Red Contra El Desierto Verde en el que participó la delegación ecuatoriana. Las resoluciones del encuentro, constan en la Carta de Jacaraípe.

Carta de jacaraípe

Nosotros, indígenas (Pataxó, Tupinikim y Guaraní), quilombolas (afrobrasileños), geraiszeiros, campesinos, trabajadores rurales sin tierra, pescadores, sindicalistas, biólogos, geógrafos, ingenieros forestales, abogados, artistas, representantes de ONGs y otros apoyos de los Estados de Minas Gerais, Río de Janeiro, Espíritu Santo, Bahía, Río Grande del Sur, Pará y también de Ecuador, Uruguay y Costa Rica, reunidos en el 4º Encuentro Nacional de la Red Alerta Contra el Desierto Verde, en Jacaraípe, municipio da Serra-ES convocamos a la sociedad a la reflexión sobre los graves impactos económicos, sociales, culturales y ambientales provocados por la expansión continental del monocultivo del eucalipto y demás cultivos manejados por el agronegocio exportador.

La prioridad dada por nuestros gobiernos al fomento del monocultivo del eucalipto, del pino, de la soja, de la caña de azúcar, entre otros, significa la profundización del proceso de concentración de tierras, deteniendo e impidiendo toda perspectiva de reforma agraria y de democratización del acceso a la tierra. Al ocupar las tierras cultivables con el monocultivo, el gran capital impide la producción de alimentos esenciales, justamente donde hay más hambre y miseria.

Ya se constató en los encuentros anteriores de esta Red, que el actual Gobierno de Lula, e inclusive la Ministra Marina Silva, para espanto general, refuerzan cada vez más el modelo excluyente de la plantación de monocultivos de árboles en gran escala con fines industriales, ignorando el desastre ambiental y social causado en los últimos 40 años. La Red Alerta Contra el Desierto Verde entiende que no vale la pena hacer un gran estudio en el país para mapear y proponer resoluciones para los conflictos entre las comunidades que sufren los impactos de las empresas que plantan monocultivos, mientras el Gobierno Federal mantenga la meta de ampliación del área de plantaciones de árboles en el Brasil de dos millones de hectáreas para 2007, lo que generará cientos de nuevos conflictos. Solamente en Minas Gerais en el año 2004 se plantaron casi 150 mil hectáreas de tierra con monocultivos de eucalipto.

Reforzamos nuevamente que queremos un Brasil competitivo en el respeto a la diversidad étnica y cultural y a las necesidades y perspectivas de las comunidades locales con ricas experiencias de producción agrícola diversificada sin el uso de agrotóxicos. Queremos un Brasil competitivo en la protección y recuperación de las áreas degradadas por monocultivos, utilizando especies de árboles nativos de forma diversificada, asentando familias sin tierra y utilizando técnicas agroecológicas. Exportar cada vez más celulosa y hierro, refuerza el modelo económico dominante en el país que produce cada vez más hambre y miseria en un país donde millones de familias no tienen qué comer.

A todo esto se agregan nuevas preocupaciones como la expansión, a través del Protocolo de Kyoto, del Mercado de Carbono, que viene a reforzar la desigualdad Norte-Sur y mercantilizar una cuestión ambiental de las más graves para la humanidad: el cambio climático. La mercantilización de la cuestión ambiental está reforzada también a través de las certificaciones del FSC y de Certificación Florestal (CERFLOR: Sistema de certificación elaborado por el gobierno brasileño en conjunto con las empresas, sin participación de la población), que además de no respetar a las comunidades que sufren los impactos del monocultivo del eucalipto, refuerzan el consumo sin límite de un sector minoritario del planeta, principalmente en los países del Norte. Además de eso, sabemos que es imposible que monocultivos como los de eucalipto y pino con fines industriales, sean socialmente justos, ambientalmente adecuados y económicamente viables como pretende el FSC, teniendo en cuenta asimismo las certificaciones otorgadas a empresas que causan enormes impactos sociales y ambientales.

Se pregunta: ¿Qué es lo más importante? ¿El derecho básico y constitucional de los indígenas Tupnikim y Guaraní, por ejemplo, sus tierras, su cultura y a su supervivencia, o las ganancias obtenidas por Aracruz Celulose a través del aumento de sus exportaciones de celulosa para la fabricación de papel descartable en el llamado Primer Mundo? Reafirmamos que creemos en otro mundo posible, que tenga en cuenta los derechos y el bienestar de todas las poblaciones, con toda su diversidad. No podemos ceder a un mundo cuya lógica impuesta es el consumo sin límite, el materialismo y la cuestión económico-financiera, profundizando la desigualdad y la exclusión.

Por todo eso, en nuestro IV Encuentro Nacional tomamos las siguientes resoluciones:

· Fortalecer la resistencia y las luchas locales contra los monocultivos que invaden las tierras de los indígenas, quilombolas, geraiszeiros y demás campesinos;

· Presionar para que las tierras indígenas y quilombolas sean demarcadas;

· Exigir que el Ministro de Justicia, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, demarque inmediatamente las 18.070 hectáreas de tierras indígenas Tupinikim y Guaraní en el Estado de Espírito Santo;

· Fortalecer proyectos de reconversión del eucalipto en áreas cultivables, garantizando la seguridad alimentaria del pueblo, la protección de los recursos hídricos y la diversidad cultural;

· Fortalecer la articulación y el apoyo mutuo entre los países de América Latina que enfrentan al monocultivo, a través de la Red Latinoamericana contra los Monocultivos de Árboles;

· Desacreditar a la certificación del FSC (Consejo de Manejo Forestal) para plantaciones de árboles en gran escala;

· Desacreditar también a otras certificaciones como la de CERFLOR;

· Estimular una formación profesional volcada a las demandas de los trabajadores rurales;

· Intensificar la divulgación y crítica al mercado de carbono, a través de trabajos en las comunidades y mediante instrumentos alternativos de comunicación;

· Crear un día nacional de lucha contra el mercado de carbono;

· Repudiar la posición de la Ministra de Medio Ambiente Marina Silva a favor del sector industrial de base “forestal”;

· Repudiar las ambigüedades cometidas en la elaboración del Plan Nacional de Bosques (PNF) y exigir al gobierno y a las empresas que detengan inmediatamente la expansión de los monocultivos de árboles en el país y prioricen, cuanto antes, una consulta seria y profunda con todas las comunidades que sufren el impacto de los monocultivos, para subsidiar la elaboración de una nueva política, verdaderamente forestal en el país, integrada a políticas de reforma agraria, seguridad alimentaria, agroecología y reforestación diversificada;

· Exigir la ejecución de las resoluciones de las conferencias de medio ambiente (en las esferas municipales, de los estados y nacional);

· Repudiar la elaboración del informe “Temas conflictivos relacionados con la expansión de la base forestal” realizado por el Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, como respuesta oficial a la situación vivida hace años por las comunidades que sufren los diversos impactos negativos de las plantaciones de árboles en gran escala en Brasil;

· Exigir que el MDA impida la inversión de recursos públicos del PRONAF para la plantación de monocultivos;

· Presionar a los núcleos de las Oficinas Regionales del Trabajo (DRTs) para que actúen con respecto a los mutilados y accidentados del corte del eucalipto y al trabajo esclavo en las carbonerías.

Junio de 2005

Rede Alerta Contra o Deserto Verde

Manifiesto de la delegación ecuatoriana

La delegación ecuatoriana representantes de las organizaciones: CONAIE – Confederación de Nacionalidades Indígenas del Ecuador; ECUARUNARI – Nacionalidades de Los Pueblos Kichua del Ecuador, Acción Ecológica y FUNDECOL – Fundación de Defensa Ecológica, comprometidos por la defensa de sus territorios, por la dignidad y soberanía de los pueblos, expresamos nuestra solidaridad y respaldo a nuestros hermanos indígenas tupinikin, guaraní y quilombolas, así como a las organizaciones campesinas de Brasil que luchan incansablemente por el respeto a los derechos humanos y la recuperación de sus territorios usurpados por las oligarquías nacionales y transnacionales.

En este contexto, rechazamos el fomento de los monocultivos forestales que van en contra de la supervivencia de la humanidad.


  1. Historia de los quilombolas

En un inicio existían dos “quilombos” (aldeas). Uno de ellos era liderado por Jacimba Gaba, jefa de la Nación Banto, capturada en Angola y puesta al servicio del esclavista José Trancoso. Después de matar a su esclavizador, Jaciba Gaba escapó con su gente y se refugió en la selva atlántica. Al segundo quilombo lo dirigía Rugerio, otro esclavo que luchaba contra sus opresores utilizando la estrategia cultural de la magia.

Otra figura histórica es Benedito Medialegua, un guerrero que liberaba esclavos de las haciendas de la región, verdadero referente político, estratégico y dinámico, cuya lucha expresó la autoestima, la dignidad y la resistencia del pueblo quilombola.

Cuando hablan de Benedito cantan, danzan y realizan actos rituales; todo ello en honor a la imagen de Benedito que eleva su figura y se expresa en la alegría, la fuerza y la belleza.

Hoy en día la espiritualidad negra se fusiona con la religiosidad católica para mantener viva la fuerza guerrera de Benedito. El 27 de febrero el “yongo”, la expresión ritual de la religiosidad negra, entra en la iglesia de San Benedito celebrando con magia, tambores, danza y cantos al guerrero libertador. Otro ritual que mantiene viva la fuerza política de Benedito es el “tucumbí”, donde dos “reyes” se enfrentan con versos irónicos y danzan con el fuego, recordando el valor y la perspicacia de Benedito.

2. Romería por la tierra

¡Romería por la tierra
que al pueblo logra reunir,
es una lucha sin guerra
La bella naturaleza
es obra del creadorpues
de una obra perfecta
Dios tuvo la inspiración.
Pero por la suerte ingrata
la empresa y su plantación
hizo así que comenzara
esta nuestra maldición.
Mas con el paso del tiempo
la plantación aumentó
y la ambición de sus dueños
nuestra tierra negoció.
A unos se la compraron
y a otros se la arrancó
capataces y soldados
matando al trabajador.
Los antiguos propietarios
hoy viven en abandono
y sin su tierra quedaron
los que antes tenían todo.
Trabajadores amigos
miren nuestra situación
nosotros los campesinos
en la peor condición.
Marchita la sementera
el eucalipto dejó
y la tierra que era nuestra
hoy es toda del patrón.
Desempleo en la ciudad
no es futuro, es maldición
así que a recuperar
nuestra tierra y corazón.

* Una producción de:


Video: Restoring Forests, Restoring Communities (May 2021).