World Rainforest Movement

Brasil: Outrage over killing of local man by Fibria Celulose’s guards

On 16 March 2010, Henrique de Souza Pereira, 24-years old, was killed by a team of guards of the private ‘security’ company hired by Fibria, former Aracruz Celulose and partner of Stora Enso in the Veracel Celulose company.

They alleged that Henrique was stealing wood in an area of the company with eucalyptus trees and that he had responded ‘aggressively’ when he was requested to leave. Henrique’s father Osvaldo Pereira Bezerra was accompanying his son and during the incident, the security force broke his arm. Henrique eventually died of his wounds since after shotting him, the security force left the area and returned with an ambulance only after 40 minutes.

As the press release of the Socio-Environmental Forum of the Extreme South of  Bahia and the Alert against the Green Desert Network recalls, Henrique was “one of the innumerous neighbours of the extensive eucalyptus areas who are trying to survive, fenced inside small properties. Another murder happened in 2007 when Antônio Joaquim dos Santos, geraizeiro [traditional inhabitant of the Cerrado region], was killed by the Security force of V&M Florestal when he was collecting firewood in an area with eucalyptus from V&M Florestal. It is noteworthy that both V&M Florestal as well Fibria had at the moment that these incidents happened the international FSC certificate that affirms to the consumer that the production comes from a “socially beneficial forest management”.

The statement adds that “in the Extreme South of Bahia and in the north of Espirito Santo, tens of local people, landless workers and especially quilombolas [Afro-Brazilians] are being criminalized and persecuted, supposedly because of ‘stealing’ wood of the company from lands that have always belonged collectively to these communities and that always guaranteed their subsistence. On November 11, 2009, the state government of Espirito Santo carried out in the quilombola community of São Domingos a big police action with 130 armed police men with rifles and sub-machine guns, dogs and horses, arresting 39 quilombolas”.

The root of the conflict remains unsolved. While big plantation companies like Fibria continue receiving support and even public funds from the authorities to expand their land area to plant eucalyptus monoculture –Fibria presently occupies more than 1 million hectares in Brazil- the agrarian land reform and the demarcation of quilombola, indigenous, peasant and geraizeira lands keep being past over.

The concerns expressed in the press release are more than relevant: “In the face of what happened, one may ask: what is this social and economic development that destroys the life of local inhabitants? That ignores the rights of communities and destroys the hope of the people? It is unacceptable that a company with these practices can obtain supposed ‘sustainability’ seals such as FSC and Cerflor, besides the many ‘sustainability ratings’.” 

Based on the press release “Armed security force of Fibria (Aracruz) kills local villager in Bahia”, Sócio-Environmental Fórum of the Extreme South of  Bahia and the Alert against the Green Desert Network, March 23,  2010