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“The women used fuel, paint and termites to ‘combat’ the cellulose.”  

From Via Campesina’s action in Brazil, to Chavez’s choice to use tree plantation land for food crops, Women’s Day 2009 on 8 March demonstrated a united front in halting the expansion of monoculture tree plantations worldwide.   For more information, read the following articles:

Women of the Via Campesina occupy export harbor of Aracruz Celulose

In the early morning of this Monday (09/03), about 1,300 women of the Via Campesina from the states of Espirito Santo, Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro occupied the Portocel, the export harbor of the Aracruz Celulose company, located in Barra do Riacho, municipality of Aracruz, Espirito Santo state. The demonstration is parte of the activities of struggle of 8 March, International Women’s Struggles Day.

The aim of this action is to denounce the company’s land concentration. The lands are used for planting eucalyptus for export, harming the food sovereignty. The women also denounce the transfer of state money to this multinational, what has even increased with the present global crisis. The company takes possession of public money but neither creates nor guarantees jobs, destructs the environment and does not contribute to the national development. To save Aracruz from bankruptcy, the government transferred, through the National Economic and Social Development Bank (BNDES)  with money from the FAT (Guarantee Fund for the Worker)  R$ 2.4 billion (about US$ 1 billion) to the Votorantim Group to buy the Aracruz shares. Even with the money of the FAT, the company does not guarantee job creation and already dismissed more than 1,500 out-sourced workers. The case is an example that the interests of outsourced companies are more important than the interests of the Brazilian people.

Aracruz Celulose is one of the main representatives of agribusiness in the country. It concentrates about 300 thousand hectares of lands occupied with eucalyptus monoculture, of which a part are Œdevolutas‚ lands, in other words, lands that belong to the state. A big part of this has been taken from indigenous communities, quilombola communities, fishermen and -women and ribeirinhos (inhabitants of riversides). In this same area about 20 thousand families could be settled, creating jobs in the countryside and producing food for the families settled and for the towns in the region where the company has installed itself.

Besides, Aracruz is responsible for serious environmental impacts. For each hectare of eucalyptus planted 49 billion liters of waters are being consumed. The pulp mill in Barra do Riacho, next to the occupied harbor, consumes 248 thousand cubic meters of water per day, equivalent to the daily consumption of 2,5 million people. Part of the Doce River was diverted to attend the interests of the duplication of the production of the company, and the impact of this intervention for the region was not seriously observed. The municipality of Aracruz clearly served the interests of the company, one more time, without assuring the protection of nature and the population.

 8 March 2009 International Women’s S truggles Day – Via Campesina Brasil

Landless Protests Spread Across Brazil – Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:41 pm (PDT)


March 9, 2009

RIO DE JANEIRO: Female landless workers occupied Brazil’s agriculture ministry, a vital port, a farm owned by a paper company and other property on Monday to demand faster agrarian reform and a turn away from pro-business policies.

The Landless Rural Workers Movement and the Via Campesina activist group issued a statement saying the women’s demonstrations were a call for Brazil to stimulate its domestic market instead of relying on exports.

“Agrarian reform and the small farmer are the solutions for the economic crisis because they would create jobs and increase food production,” they said.

In the capital Brasilia, hundreds of women peacefully occupied the lobby of the agriculture ministry, but did not halt work there and they left by noon. The Movement said 800 women occupied the building. Local media said the figure was closer to 300.

In Espirito Santo state, just north of Rio, women occupied briefly stopped work at a port that yearly handles 7.5 million tons of cellulose, the raw material for paper. But a spokeswoman for paper company Aracruz Celulose SA said the port was fully operating by noon. The Movement said 1,300 women participated in that protest; Aracruz put the number at 450.

MST said 700 women also occupied a farm in southern Brazil owned by the paper-producing unit of Brazilian conglomerate Grupo Votorantim, and 600 women in Sao Paulo state occupied land owned by Cosan SA Industria e Comercio, Brazil’s largest sugar and ethanol producer.

The landless activists frequently occupy property they consider unproductive to pressure the government to speed up land reform.

Women and GE Trees:
Check out the World Rainforest Movement Bulletin focused on Women with the announcement of a video you can watch from the WRM web page at: www.wrm.org.uy/Videos/Women_Voices.html

Both demonstrate the negative impacts on women of communities in
the South affected by the spread of monoculture tree plantations and
the importance of the  EU involvement specially in three case studies
that have been researched. Some of the plantations are made with the
excuse of being good for the climate or/and for agrofuels.

Chavez seizes tree plantation – Published Date: 07 March 2009

HUGO Chavez, president of Venezuela, has seized control of a foreign-owned eucalyptus plantation, vowing to clear the trees and use the
land for other crops as he seeks to tighten state control over food production.

The socialist leader’s move on the plantation, owned by the Irish cardboard firm Smurfit Kappa, came days after he took over a rice mill run by
US food giant Cargill.