Amazon: in the hands of a few
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Amazon: in the hands of a few

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John Ahni Schertow
September 1, 2007
 

Recently, the Enawene-Nawe, a people indigenous to the Juruena River basin in the Mato Grosso state of Brazil, invited Greenpeace to visit them and document their ways of life, which Greenpeace had previously expressed an interest in doing.

Greenpeace accepted, and set out, accompanied by OPAN (Native Amazon Operation) members and 2 european journalists. But upon arriving on August 20, 2007—farmers, land owners, and politicians of the Brazilian municipality of Juína (Mato Grosso state) ‘warned’ them that they will not be permitted to visit the Enawene-Nawe.

Maybe ‘warned’ is speaking too lightly. The farmers, who insist the land and even the Enawene-Nawe themselves is ‘theirs’, repeatedly threatened the group with violence and even death. The group ended up not meeting with the Enawene-Nawe.

The entire time they were in Brazil, the group was followed by a mob of farmers that grew and grew until their departure. On Several occasions, the police even had to step in and prevent the mob from carrying out their threats, for instance, from tying them up to the back of a truck and dragging them around…

This is a telling incident about the struggles of the Enawene-Nawe. For decades they’ve faced continuous invasion and encroachment by the likes of rubber tappers, diamond prospectors, cattle ranchers, hydro-electric developers, loggers, and more recently soya planters. As Greenpeace points out, atleast the group was able to leave! The Enawene-Nawe cannot, would not. The land is after all, their home.

Amazon: in the hands of a few

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