BRAZIL: Murder, Death Threats Amid Environmental Protests
2009-05-27 0:00

By Fabiana Frayssinet IPSNews.net



Environmentalists and human rights activists in Brazil are demanding clarification of the murder of Paulo Santos Souza, a fisherman and trade unionist who was fighting irregularities in the construction of a gas pipeline for Petrobras.

The Associação dos Homens do Mar (AHOMAR – the fishermen’s union) for which Santos Souza was the treasurer, and other unions and civil society groups have called for a demonstration Wednesday in front of the headquarters of the state oil firm Petrobras, in Rio de Janeiro.

They are also demanding the interruption of work on a natural gas pipeline being laid some 60 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro, following reports of environmental permit irregularities and damages caused to flora and fauna in the mangrove swamps of Guanabara Bay.

The gas pipeline is part of the Liquefied Gas and Oil Project (GLP) carried out in the framework of the Accelerated Growth Programme (PAC) embarked on by the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

Construction of the future Petrobras Petrochemical Complex (COMPERJ) is in the hands of a consortium, GLP Submarino, made up of the Oceânica Engenharia and GDK S.A. companies.

The head of AHOMAR, Alexandre Anderson, said that the engineering works, which began in late March, have particularly harmed fishing, which has declined by 70 percent since that time.

Although the union will not say outright that the two are connected, it says it is a remarkable coincidence that its treasurer was killed on May 22, the same day that the Environment Secretary of the municipality of Magé blocked the work on the gas pipeline because it lacks the necessary environmental permit.

"Last week we complained to the head of Petrobras that armed men present at the work site were making threats, and that lives were at risk, and just hours later our companion was killed," Ronaldo Moreno of the Oil Industry Workers' Union (SINDIPETRO) told IPS.

Santos Souza, 44, was murdered on the night of May 22 by three men who burst into his house in Magé, beat him up in front of his family, dragged him out into the street and shot him five times in the head.

The unidentified men fled the scene in a car with no licence plate. According to Santos Souza's family, before they killed him they interrogated him, asking him about documents belonging to the fishermen's union.

The murder was committed after several members of AHOMAR, including the treasurer himself, had received death threats, Anderson told IPS. Anderson himself escaped unharmed from an attempt on his life on May 1, when two men fired at him four times from the area near the gas pipeline works.

IPS contacted the Petrobras press office, asking for a comment on what the trade unionists had said, and was told that the fisherman's death was a police matter.


As for the alleged irregularities in the pipeline works, the Petrobras spokesperson said IPS should consult the consortium made up of Oceânica Engenheria and GDK S.A., which is in charge of the project.

In an official communiqué sent to IPS, the GLP Submarino consortium said it "sees no reason to comment" on Santos Souza's death, "except to deeply regret what has happened and express its condolences to his family."

It added that AHOMAR had previously held protests against the gas pipeline works at Mauá beach, in Magé. "On that occasion the consortium's position was strictly within the law, resorting to judicial means to guarantee the works in progress and the safety of its workers and its assets," it said.

Finally, the consortium said it "repudiates in the strongest possible terms the attempts - frequently sheltered behind a comfortable anonymity - to link it with such a vile act."

Moreno, of the oil workers' union, reiterated that Petrobras had been told "that the situation was serious, and that it had to take urgent measures."

Anderson said the fishermen's union preferred "not to speculate, but we are very worried because we've been threatened ever since we started to protest against the damages to the fauna and flora of Guanabara Bay because of the work on the petrochemical complex.

"We have always been threatened whenever we exert pressure and fight for our rights," the president of the fishermen's association told IPS over the phone. He and his family are in hiding to avoid further reprisals.

Moreno said "there is a great deal of uneasiness, and we think there may be more killings." He added that SINDIPETRO has also complained about the outsourcing of the gas pipeline work by Petrobras, and the lack of guarantees and safety conditions for workers that this entails.

SINDIPETRO and AHOMAR took part in a May 16 demonstration against the gas pipeline that was violently put down by the police, Moreno said.

The authorities confiscated fishing nets and four fishing boats from fisherfolk who participated in the protest, in an "unusual and exaggerated" display of strength that included the use of helicopters, Moreno said.

The fishermen say that since Petrobras started work on the gas pipeline, right where they used to cast their nets, they have not been able to fish.

Anderson estimated that the catch is down by 70 percent for the fisherfolk of the region, whose small-scale activity carried out in rowboats supports some 3,000 families.

"Now it's practically impossible to fish in this area. Many fisherfolk are experiencing financial hardship and have had to take up other occupations," Anderson said.

The fisherfolk make their living mainly by catching bass and shrimp.

After the death threats were made, the situation was being closely monitored by the Human Rights Commission of the Rio de Janeiro state parliament, and the Magé police were carrying out an investigation.

The chairman of the Commission, lawmaker Marcelo Freixó of the Socialism and Freedom Party, told the local press that it is unlikely that the murder is unrelated to the protests.

Article from: IPSnews.net



Related Articles
BRAZIL: The Complications of Coming into Sudden (Oil) Wealth
LATIN AMERICA: Reconciling Oil and the Environment
Oil, Gas and Minerals: Mixed Blessings


Latest News from our Front Page

Sweden may be at war "in a few years" - top brass in leaked document
2016-02-13 5:24
In a few years Sweden may be engaged in a war with a “qualified opponent” after two centuries of peace, a senior Swedish commander has told soldiers in an internal brochure. The alarming message was reportedly sent by Major General Anders Brännström, the Army chief, in a brochure distributed among the participants of a major annual event that is to open ...
Danish imam urges govt to accept child marriages among refugees
2016-02-13 4:57
A high-profile imam has urged the Danish government to accept child brides, as the practice is part of the culture of many refugees arriving in the country. It follows an announcement by Denmark that such couples will be separated under Danish law. Imam Oussama El-Saadi, of the Aarhus mosque in Denmark, said that child brides should be looked at from a ...
White Parents in Virginia Shutdown White Guilt Video!
2016-02-13 4:56
You see folks? This is what happens when you stop blaming the Joo, and you get the fuck off your favorite bitch corner and start taking action! This is what happens when parents start parenting again! What? You’re gonna brainwash our kids with your filth and lies? We don’t think so. How would you like an empty school with no ...
Hungarian Top Economist: Civil War is Coming to Europe
2016-02-13 2:36
Zsolt Bayer, Hungarian journalist, publicist, and co-founder of Hungary's currently ruling political party, and Dr. László Bogár, former politician and leading economist, discuss the Cologne sexual assualts committed by migrants on New Year's Eve, 2016. This short part of the 60-minute long television program that aired on Echo TV on January 8, 2016, is of a rant by Mr. Bogár warning ...
British scientists granted permission to genetically modify human embryos
2016-02-12 23:48
The Francis Crick institute will genetically edit the leftover embryos from from IVF clinics British scientists have been granted permission to genetically modify human embryos by the fertility regulator. The scientists want to deactivate genes in leftover embryos from IVF clinics to see if it hinders development. It will only be the second time in the world that such a procedure has ...
More News »