Facebook enables deforestation in Brazilian Amazon
Criminal networks in Brazil are illegally selling and deforesting protected lands—even within an indigenous reserve—and posting the plots for sale on Facebook, according to an investigation by the BBC. In documentary broadcast Feb. 26, "Selling the Amazon," BBC Brasil went undercover to show how illegal land-grabbers are moving in on public land in the Amazon—clearing rainforest and selling plots to ranchers at highly inflated prices. The documentary showed plots of these cleared lands being openly advertized on Facebook. When contacted by the BBC, Facebook said that it was "ready to work with the local authorities" to investigate the matter, but would not take independent action to halt the land-trading on its platform. While some ads were pulled, others remain on Facebook. One plot up for sale was located within the Uru Eu Wau Wau Indigenous Reserve in Brazil's Rondônia state—a titled territory where invaders and conflict have been a growing problem. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has largely gutted and defunded the nation's environmental regulatory, protection and enforcement agencies. (Mongabay)
Indigenous leaders in regions of the Amazon in Brazil and Colombia have meanwhile joined with environmental groups from France and the US to file suit in a French court against a supermarket chain for selling beef produced by companies responsible for mass deforestation and land-grabs. The lawsuit claims that French grocery retailer Casino violated a 2017 law requiring businesses to do due diligence on companies within their supply chain to ensure they are not supporting organizations that perpetrate human rights violations or environmental destruction.
According to evidence collected by the Center for Climate Crime Analysis (CCCA), Casino purchased beef from three slaughterhouses owned by JBS, the largest meat processing company in the world. JBS slaughterhouses source beef from 592 distributors who collectively accounted for at least 50,000 hectares (123,550 acres) of deforestation between 2008 and 2020. Despite reports detailing the company's harmful practices, Casino has continued to purchase meat from JBS.
Fany Kuiru Castro, a representative for the Uitoto people of Colombia and director of the National Organization of Indigenous Peoples of the Colombian Amazon (OPIAC) said, "Cattle ranching, monocultures and other extractive industries are putting our lives at risk and exterminating indigenous peoples."
The lawsuit seeks 3 million euros in damages for indigenous groups. It also seeks to bring Casino into compliance with the 2017 law to "ensure that their activities do not entail deforestation," said Sebastien Mabile, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. (Jurist)
Last living man of Brazil's Juma tribe dies from COVID-19
Aruká Juma, the last surviving man of Amazon's Juma tribe, has died from COVID-19, which was brought by invading loggers. Juma, aged between 86 and 90, was the last fluent speaker of the tribe's language. The disease was introduced by settlers and illegal loggers in the area. After several members of the Juma people were slain by settlers in the 1960s, the tribe joined with the neighboring Uru-eu-wau-wau group, and Aruká Juma's daughters got married in this group. (Latin Post, March 16; NYT, March 14)
Brazil environment minister quits amid illegal logging probe
Brazilian Environment Minister Ricardo Salles quit on June 23, facing a criminal investigation of whether he obstructed a police probe of illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest. A Supreme Court justice authorized the investigation of Salles this month after federal police raids targeted the minister and other officials alleged to have allowed illegal wood exports.
To replace Salles, Bolsonaro nominated Joaquim Alvaro Pereira Leite, a former board member of the Brazilian Rural Society, a century-old lobby group for farming interests. (Reuters)