Brazil: high court orders release of rancher convicted in Dorothy Stang slaying

Brazil's Supreme Court on Aug. 22 ordered the release of Amazon rancher Regivaldo Galvão, convicted in the 2005 killing of US nun and rainforest activist Dorothy Stang. In 2010, Galvão was convicted by a court in Belém, Pará state, of ordering Stang's death, and sentenced to 30 years. The following year, the Pará court ordered that he start serving his term immediately, even while pursuing an appeal of his conviction. But the Supreme Court ruled that Galvão had the right to remain free pending the outcome of his appeal.

Brazilian appeals court suspends Belo Monte dam

A group of judges from Brazil's Regional Federal Tribunal (TRF1) suspended construction of the Belo Monte dam project on the Amazon's Xingu River Aug. 14, finding that indigenous people had not been properly consulted prior to approval of the project. The ruling upheld an earlier decision that declared the Brazilian Congress' authorization of the project in 2005 to be unconstitutional. The decision finds that the Brazilian constitution and ILO Convention 169, to which Brazil is party, require that Congress can only authorize the use of water resources for hydroelectric projects after an independent assessment of environmental impacts and subsequent consultations with affected indigenous peoples.

Brazil mobilizes troops to southern borders in anti-narco drive

Brazil on Aug. 8 announced the mobilization of nearly 9,000 military troops to its borders with four neighboring countries as part of an operation aimed at interrupting narco-trafficking networks. Army, navy and air force personnel are being deployed along the frontiers with Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay, the Defense Ministry said in announcing the mobilization, which has been carried out as an annual exercise since 2007. "One of our objectives is to control the airspace which is being used for illegal activities such as the drug trade and other contraband," said Brigade Commander Jose Geraldo Ferreira. The operation, code-named Agata 5, will last 30 days and bring F-5 fighter jets to the skies above the border zones. It will also involve sending troops to Brazil's Amazon region to crack down on outlaw gold mining. (BrazzilMag, Bernama, UPI, AP, Aug. 8)

Brazil: court orders Chevron to suspend drilling

A federal court in Brazil on Aug. 1 ordered Chevron and drilling company Transocean to suspend all oil drilling in the country within 30 days in the wake of two oil spills off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. A judge for Brazil's Regional Federal Court of the Second Region ruled that each company must pay 500 million reals, or $244 million, for every day that they do not comply with the suspension. In November, a Chevron appraisal well leaked 155,000 gallons of oil. In March, oil started leaking again from the well and Chevron suspended production in that oil field. In its ruling, the court rationalized that two oil spills in the span of four months demonstrated that Chevron and Transocean cannot operate the wells safely. Chevron plans to appeal the ruling, saying that it complied with all applicable laws and industry standards. 

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