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#Sundayreading – ‘In Joy Or In Pain, Women Must Talk’- Maria Da Penha #Vaw

‘In Joy Or In Pain, Women Must Talk’

Maria-da-Penha-1

Kamayani Bali-Mahabal

FORTALEZA( BRAZIL)- Maria da Penha Maia Fernandes was fast asleep when her husband, Antonio Heredia Vivero, a teacher, shot at her. Though she was rushed to the hospital, the attack left her paraplegic. Four months later, when she came back home, Vivero made another attempt on her life – he tried to electrocute her. But Maria survived yet again. …

In thousands of homes across Brazil, women like Maria are subjected to extreme abuse by their husbands on an everyday basis. Recent statistics reveal a rather alarming picture. Every 15 seconds a woman is assaulted; every two hours a woman is murdered; 65 per cent of attacks on women happen behind closed doors. Whereas Brazil has the seventh highest rate of violence against women in the world, within the past three decades at least 92,000 women have succumbed to domestic violence.

Special law

Maria, however, has beaten these dismal odds. Instead of taking things lying down, she decided to fight a pitched battle against domestic violence to the extent that her efforts have resulted in a special law being named after her. The Maria da Penha Law on Domestic and Family Violence is one of the most comprehensive legislations in the world that gives the tate the powers to arrest, prosecute and punish perpetrators of violence against women.

Recalling her early days, Maria says, “I met my aggressor when I was doing my master’s at the University of São Paulo. He was a student from Colombia and was popular with my friends. When I went back to my hometown, Fortaleza, after completing my degree, he accompanied me. We got close and I married him. That was when he applied for Brazilian citizenship, and as soon as he got it, he started showing his true colours.”

It was in May 1983 that Vivero decided to do away with her altogether. “I was sleeping when I heard a shot, a very loud noise, in my bedroom. I tried to move but couldn’t. Thankfully, our neighbours came to my rescue and rushed me to a hospital. When the police questioned my husband he told them that four thieves had broken into our home and that he had fought them off. The attack had left me paraplegic, and I was under intensive treatment for nearly four months.

“I came back home at the time because I had no inkling that he was the shooter. But when he kept me in forced confinement at home for more than 15 days and tried to electrocute me, I knew I could not continue with that relationship. However, I still needed a legal separation from him so that I could take my three daughters with me when I left. I couldn’t risk losing their custody. As soon as I got the papers I returned to my parents,” she narrates.

In January 1984, she filed a case of attempted murder against her former husband. That was when her battle for justice began. It took seven years before he was sentenced by jury to 15 years in prison. The defence appealed the sentence and the conviction was overturned. A new trial was held in 1996 and a sentence of 10 years was applied. However, Vivero remained at large.

“I decided to write a book, ‘Sobrevivi… posso contra [‘I Survived… I Can Tell My Story’], on my experiences and the contradictions in the legal proceedings. This work was noticed by two non-government organisations, CLADEM (The Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defense of Women’s Rights) and CEJIL (Centre for Justice and International Law) that invited me to submit a case against Brazil to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organisation of American States (OAS),” she says.

Brazil, however, did not answer the petition and remained silent throughout the procedure. Later, in a landmark ruling, the Commission criticised the Brazilian government for not taking effective measures to prosecute and convict perpetrators of domestic violence. In March 2002, the penal process in Brazil was terminated, and in October, Vivero was arrested. He received a sentence of just over six years for two counts of attempted murder, but he has served only two by making use of judicial remedies.

Meanwhile, between 2002 and 2004, several NGOs, including CLADEM, created a consortium to draft an improved domestic violence law. On August 7, 2006, following several discussions and consultations between the civil society and the state of Brazil, the Maria da Penha Law was approved.

Working as a coordinator Of Studies for the Association of Relatives and Friends of Victims of Violence in Ceara, Maria, who is wheelchair bound, is glad that the new law upholds the interests of women.

“This law is here to not just protect women from domestic violence but also to prevent it and also punish the aggressors. We need more number of women’s police stations, centres where survivors can seek preventive help and shelters for those who have walked out of their homes. In addition, we have to make sure that speedy trials happen in these cases so that justice is not delayed. It took 19 years and six months for my case to finally wrap up,” she says.

The advent of the Maria da Penha Law has given a new lease of life to the women’s movement. The central thought behind the enactment of this law, that every woman has the right to live her life free from domestic violence, has been widely publicised throughout the country through lectures, courses and trainings conducted within communities, schools, universities, businesses and institutions.

Nonetheless, Maria is convinced that a lot more needs to be done to secure women. “Women are still being murdered within their own homes by those who should be protecting and loving them. Before the law, although domestic violence was a crime it was considered a low potential offence. That reality has changed now and, indeed, wherever I go women acknowledge how much things have changed for them ever since 2006. But I do feel we need more financial resources to enforce all the measures the law promises,” she asserts.

The determined rights-activist is particularly referring to women living in the smaller towns where patriarchy still has a stronghold and there are not enough women’s police stations or shelters to safeguard them from harm.

“The law talks of setting up special courts and stricter sentences for offenders, besides other prevention and relief measures, in cities that have more than 60,000 inhabitants. But what about those living in small cities?” she says. In a sense, Maria feels that it’s not a law but a change in the attitude of the people that can bring about lasting change. “Till date, it’s the macho culture that has interfered with the creation of more gender friendly public policies. That has to change,” she adds.

Of course, the beginnings of a transformation are visible. On the fifth anniversary of the law in August 2011, the National Council of Justice of Brazil collected data showing positive results: more than 331,000 prosecutions and 110,000 final judgments, and nearly two million calls to the Service Centre for Women.

On its part the government has launched the Women, Living Without Violence programme, under which $265 million have been pledged to integrate public services and create women-friendly policies.

No more silent

With hope in her voice and a sparkle in her eyes Maria concludes, “In a society fuelled by machismo, there is bound to be a lot of resistance to change. But I believe that through our work we can motivate fellow citizens to fight for women’s rights. We are not silent anymore. Today, women’s voices cross borders and oceans. Together we are stronger and we hope that one day we will only be telling stories of our pain and struggle in the past.”

— WFS

http://therisingnepal.org.np/news/2354

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#Sundayreading -Favela Girls Pirouette Out of Poverty in Brazil

by 

edisca

FORTALEZA, Brazil — Bom Jardim, home to some 200,000 people, is one of the poorest and most violent neighborhoods in this city. Located at the southwestern tip of the metropolis, with long streets laid in a grid, the signs of poverty appear everywhere: cracked cement or none at all, half-built houses and other makeshift architecture recently occupied by migrants from the countryside.

It is here that the Brazilian prima ballerina, Dora Andrade, has set up her School of Dance and Social Integration for Children and Adolescents (Edisca), which enables girls from the favelas, or slums, to not just get a formal education and learn dance but also to learn important social skills. Moreover, it provides the students a daily full meal and shows them how to care for and respect their bodies.

Free of charge, the girls who enroll in Andrade’s school generally come from three of Fortaleza’s poorest localities, one of them a shantytown built on the edge of the city’s garbage dump. A majority of the girls cannot read or write and come from broken homes.

“Since 1991, Edisca has been providing high-quality interdimensional education that combines reason, emotion, willpower and self-improvement through art, preparing students for life and creating opportunities,” said Andrade, adding, “Dance can make a more humane world. . . .  The best thing is knowing that all the girls are well fed, happy, intelligent and that they can realise their dreams. They have a sparkle in their eyes that is not often seen on other girls, rich or poor. For me, this is the most important.”

Madeline Abreu, a psychologist at Edisca, understands the emotional burdens that the students are carrying and thinks the school gives them a shot at normalcy.

“The reality is that socioeconomic hardship often pushes young people in these localities towards drug abuse, child labor and even prostitution,” Abreu said. “Initially, we started off by offering dance lessons in ballet, which is generally taught to girls from wealthy families. From there they moved to contemporary forms. So, in a way, Edisca now specializes in modern dance, which has its foundations in the classical ballet techniques. Of course, as it evolved, the dance school expanded into other disciplines, including singing, theatre and visual arts as well as new educational functions, such as tutoring and English and computer classes.”

It soon became necessary for the school to provide food for the students because many of them were undernourished and had poor eating habits. “Dance is a physical language and it is essential for dancers to be in excellent physical condition and practice good hygiene,” Abreu said. “Another cost that the school felt necessary to absorb was transportation. Most children who go here live on the distant outskirts of the city and often cannot afford the bus fare.”

Favela

Tatiane Gama, a 31-year-old Edisca graduate, said in an interview, “I learnt to eat vegetables here.” Gama’s life turned around the day she stepped into the school at age 8. She was one of the school’s first students and is now a professional dance instructor there.

“Our education happens in stages,” Gama said. “At the onset we dance. Ballet particularly teaches discipline. Then we get on to the basics of reading and writing. There’s also psychological counseling for most children, traumatized as they are witnessing street violence day in and day out.”

Gama has been teaching dance since she she was 18 and thinks it has saved her from a life of hard work with no returns. “I was fortunate to have been inducted into Edisca,” she said. “By then, the school management had realized that once children turn 16 or 17, their parents are keen on withdrawing them from school so that they can take up a job.” This led to the start of the Edisca Dance Company, which draws the most talented dancers at the school and tours worldwide. The dancers are paid a monthly stipend of around $50, Gama said.

Some Edisca students move into academia or other professional careers. Jamila de Oliveira Lopez, 23, hopes to become a journalist soon. “I want to be able to express myself in words, too,” she said. Lopez was always at the top of her class even though she had to do her homework in her family’s kitchen because she shared a room with her two sisters in a house located in a rough neighborhood.

Edisca currently has 400 students enrolled, and to keep it and the dance company going, it must do extensive fund-raising through performances and donations. Unesco, in addition, has created a partnership with the Repetto Foundation, built on the French ballet costume maker, to help finance Edisca.

“Poverty is not just lack of resources, it’s the inequality that can steal a child’s future,” Lopez said. “Seeing the students of Edisca on stage is like seeing them overcome all the difficulties that deprivation brings with it. Girls forget their sadness and learn to take destiny into their own hands.”

WFS

Favela Girls Pirouette Out of Poverty in Brazil

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The World Cup Exposes Brazil’s Injustices

The World Cup Exposes Brazil’s Injustices

2014-06-04-CHIEFRAIONIWALKINGAWAYFROMTHEPROTEST27.05.14CREDITMAIRAIRIGARAYAMAZONWATCH.jpg On June 12th the World Cup kicks off in Brazil; the country has been beset by protest in the run up to the tournament. Last year up to a million people demonstrated across Brazil: protesting the vast expense of the World Cup, calling for better public services and an end to corruption. On June 3rd, the police were accused of heavy handedness as protestors gathered outside the World Cup Stadium in Goiania, during a friendly football match between Brazil and Panama. The demonstrators condemn the 15 billion dollars spent on the tournament which could have gone towards social services and improving living standards for the poor of Brazil. It’s the latest in a long line of demonstrations. 2014-06-04-MAY27THPROTEST.jpg But now Brazil’s poor favela residents and the indigenous and tribal people have joined forces. On May 28th in Brasilia, 1,500 residents of the favelas, indigenous people, students and many other Brazilians from all walks of life took to the streets, gridlocking them for hours. Some occupied the roof of the Brazilian Congress, including members of the indigenous Guarani tribe who carried banners saying, ‘Guarani resiste, Demarcacao ja!’ ‘The Guarani are resisting. Yes to demarcation!’ Police fired tear gas and stun grenades into the crowd. One policeman was reportedly shot in the leg with an arrow. 2014-06-04-MEDIANINJAPROTESTSMOKEBOMBS27THMAY.jpgSmoke bombed protesters, Brasilia May 27th 2014. (Credit: MEDIANINJA) At first glance the inhabitants of Brazil’s urban slums, the favelas, and the indigenous peopleof the Brazilian Amazon may not seem to have a common cause. But both groups face violence with impunity from police and the military, poverty, land insecurity, neglect by the authorities. The Brazilian government is brushing them under the carpet. On June 9th the legendary Chief Raoni Metuktire and his nephew Chief Megaron Txucarramãe, members of the Mebengôkre Kayapó tribe in the Brazilian Amazon, will arrive in London to gather support for the Kayapó and for all the tribes across Brazil in their struggle to protect their ancestral lands and way of life. They are urging the Brazilian government to demarcate the region known as Kapôt-Nhinore, which is sacred to the Kayapó. They will be holding a press conference on June 9th – I will be there to speak in their support, as Founder and Chair of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation (BJHRF). It is a critical time for indigenous rights in Brazil. The Kayapó, and all the indigenous peoples of the Amazon are threatened; by mega-dams, illegal mining, logging, occupation by settlers and ranchers, and by companies and large corporations, by proposed legal reform and constitutional amendments which if allowed to go ahead will strip the tribes of their territorial rights, and endanger their livelihoods and cultures. Throughout my life I have campaigned on behalf of indigenous peoples all over the world: in South America, Asia and Africa. I have witnessed the suffering of many of these ancient tribes, murdered, threatened, abused, forced from their homes and deprived of their way of life. Millions of indigenous people have become refugees in their own land and we don’t know how many thousands have lost their lives. 2014-06-04-PROTESTERBEINGTREATED.jpgProtester being treated after gas exposure, May 27th. (Credit: MEDIANINJA)The values of indigenous people have shaped my relationship to the earth, and our responsibilities towards her. During my thirty years of campaigning for human rights, social justice and environmental protection, I have campaigned on behalf of many indigenous tribes in Latin America: the Miskitos and Mayangna in Nicaragua, the Yanomami, the Guarani, and the Surui Paiter in Brazil, the Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa, and Huaorani tribes in Ecuador, and the Quechua in Peru. I learned from their wisdom, and also from their courage. Traditional indigenous cultures use natural resources sustainably: forests, grasslands, rivers and wildlife, and preserve biodiversity. Protecting the rights of indigenous peoples is essential to our survival and that of the planet. Over and over again, indigenous peoples have been proven to be the best custodians of biodiversity in their ancestral lands. Brazil’s 1988 constitution recognises that the Indians have an ‘Original’ and inalienable right to occupy and use their traditional lands. If it can be shown that the tribe historically occupied and used that area of land, it is theirs by right – it should become demarcated land. Kapôt-Nhinore has already been surveyed by the indigenous agency FUNAI for demarcation, but the process has been stalled by bureaucracy, and is threatened by proposed changes to Brazil’s demarcation laws and constitution. In the past Brazil had an average of thirteen demarcations per year. Under President Dilma Rousseff this number has sunk to three a year. The demarcation process has been crippled by an unrelenting barrage of legislative proposals from Congressmen representing large agribusiness, mining corporations and the dam industry, designed to wrest the land from the indigenous tribes and open it to development. It is unconscionable. I urge President Rousseff to halt the Proposed Constitutional Amendment (PEC215) which would further delay the process for demarcations and claims: and would result in few, if any further demarcations being approved. Brent Millikan of International Rivers states, ‘constitutional amendment PEC 215 would transfer authority for demarcation of indigenous lands from the Executive branch to the Congress.’ Demarcation would become a political decision; power of the Executive being transferred to the Legislature, an abuse of the separation of powers, a foundation stone of the Constitution. Since the Congress is today dominated by the Bancada Ruralista – the large landowners’ lobby – it is highly unlikely that any demarcation would be granted. Even if it were, finding time for Congress to debate each demarcation would mean even more delays introduced into the process. Because the change would effectively be retrospective, Congress would also acquire the power to reduce or reverse territories (TI’s) which have already been demarcated. I urge President Rousseff to halt PEC 215 and the other proposed amendments to the Brazilian Constitution and laws which are eroding the indigenous peoples’ right to their ancestral lands. Some proposals would open up indigenous territories for mineral and oil extraction – mining companies have already begun to lodge claims to the territory. Some would not only permit, but effectively force the indigenous people to allow cattle ranching and agriculture on their land. If allowed to go ahead, these changes could destroy the forest and traditional lives of the Kayapó and many other tribes across Brazil. I call on the Brazilian government to enforce the Kayapó’s rights to their land, which are enshrined in the 1988 Constitution. I appeal for protection for the hundreds of tribes in the Brazilian Amazon who are continually threatened by landowners, illegal mining, logging, occupation by settlers and ranchers, and by companies and large corporations which continue to trade in produce from illegally farmed crops on indigenous territory, by reckless development projects which threaten their lives and livelihoods. Otherwise indigenous people will continue to be murdered, abused and pushed off their ancestral land. 2014-06-04-PROTESTERSPEC215CREDITMAIRA.JPGProtesting PEC 215. (Credit: Maira Irigaray, Amazonwatch)Among the most monstrous of these projects is the Belo Monte Dam, which is under construction on the Xingu River in the Brazilian state of Pará, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon. Belo Monte will be more than a dam; it is a megadam, the third largest in the world, which will displace 20,000 people and change the Amazon basin forever. It is a grave human rights violation and an environmental crime I have campaigned against Belo Monte for many years. In March 2012 I went on a fact finding mission to the Xingu. Construction on the dam had then just begun. I travelled down the Xingu River in a small boat. I was accompanied by my courageous friend Antonia Melo, co-ordinator of Xingu Vivo, a collective of local NGOs opposed to Belo Monte, and Ruy Marques Sposati. We saw the great red scarred coffer dams, the beginnings of Belo Monte, rearing out of the river. I met with indigenous leaders, with local communities, NGOs, government officials, extractavists – and the Bishop of the Xingu, Dr Erwin Krautler, whose concern and care for the people affected by Belo Monte was evident. I was distraught by the suffering I witnessed in the area. I published my findings in a report on the Huffington Post: The Belo Monte Dam, an Environmental Crime. I urge you to read it. The people of the Xingu need our support. 2014-06-04-SUECUNNINGHAMRIOPROTEST2012.jpgProtesters assemble on the beach in Rio de Janeiro during Rio+20, 2012, to protest the Belo Monte dam. (Credit: Sue Cunningham)And Belo Monte is only part of the plan: on 25 April 2014 it was disclosed in Lima, Peru that 412 dams are planned across the Amazon. 256 of them are in Brazil, 77 in Peru, 55 in Ecuador, 14 in Bolivia, six in Venezuela, two in Guyana, and one each in Colombia, French Guyana and Surinam. Five of the six rivers which run through the world’s largest tropical forest will be dammed – and damned. All over Brazil, even now, the Amazon’s waterways are being blocked and diverted. The river system that provides a fifth of the world’s fresh water is being dammed, polluted and fouled up. It is imperative that indigenous rights, including the right to free, prior and informed consent, be respected in places like the Tapajós basin, in the heart of the Amazon, where the Brazilian government plans to construct up to 29 large dams, following the same destructive model as Belo Monte. To the Kayapó each river, the sky, the rocks, all plants, trees and animals have a spirit. The Xingu River is sacred. At least five dams are planned upstream of Belo Monte. If these dams are built, it will be a grave human rights violation and cause irreparable environmental destruction in the Kayapó lands. Already the Kayapó are seeing the impact of the influx of some of the 100,000 workers and migrants who are flooding into the area, bringing overcrowding, disease, alcoholism, violence and prostitution. Anthropologist Paul Little released a report in April 2014, ‘Mega-Development Projects in Amazonia: A geopolitical and socioenvironmental primer.‘ He writes:

The weight of these socio-environmental impacts is distributed in an extremely unequal manner. The majority of the benefits derived from the construction of mega-development projects accrue to… large multinational corporations, the administrative apparatus of national governments and financial institutions. The majority of negative impacts of these same mega-development projects are borne by indigenous peoples, who suffer from the invasion of their territories, and local communities, which suffer from the proliferation of serious social and health problems.’

In 2009 the Kayapó wrote a letter to Electrobras, the parastatal energy company that is partnering with huge construction companies such as Odebrecht, Andrade Gutierrez and Camargo Correa to build mega-dams in the Amazon and elsewhere in Latin America and Africa.

‘We do not accept Belo Monte or any other dam on the Xingu,’ they said. ‘Our river does not have a price, our fish that we eat does not have a price, and the happiness of our grandchildren does not have a price. We will never stop fighting: In Altamira, in Brasilia, or in the Supreme Court. The Xingu is our homeand you are not welcome here.’

2014-06-04-horsies.jpgProtesters confront police. (Credit: MEDIANINJA)The Brazilian Amazon is one of the wonders of the world. It is critical to survival of the people of Brazil, and people throughout the world. A quarter of all land animal species are found in the Amazon. The rainforest absorbs around 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. It is vital in the race against climate change. I urge President Rousseff to save it, and put a stop to Belo Monte and the other dams. The plight of the Kayapó illustrates the failure of governments all over the world to protect indigenous peoples and their ancient way of life. The Kayapó have a rich and ancient culture. Their name for themselves, Mebengôkre, means ‘people of the space between waters,’ but the name ‘Kayapó’ was given to them by outsiders. It means ‘those who look like monkeys,’ probably from the traditional ceremonial dance in which the men wear monkey masks. I appeal to the Brazilian government to affirm the Kayapó’s rights to their sacred land in Kapôt-Nhinore, and to do everything in its power to protect them. President Dilma Rousseff has a choice. I urge her to seize this leadership opportunity, to halt PEC215 and the other unconscionable, unconstitutional amendments and changes to law which will threaten indigenous peoples’ rights to their land across Brazil. If these proposals go ahead, hundreds of tribal cultures may disappear and Brazil will lose an irreplaceable part of its heritage.

  Read ,more here — http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/06/05-0

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Beyond samba, sex and soccer: The World Cup riots in Brazil

Brazil’s rich and poor will face off next month and the stakes are much higher than any of the football matches.

Last updated: 28 May 2014 10:45

 

Demonstrators protest against the FIFA soccer World Cup Brazil 2014, in Sao Paulo, Brazil [EPA]

Only 22 years old, the footballer known simply as “Neymar” is far more than the “face of Brazilian soccer“. Since donning the iconic, canary yellow and blue kit for the first time, Neymar has sidestepped defenders as if dancing the samba, and raced up and down the pitch with the cavalier and carnival spirit definitive of Brazilian football.

As Neymar sprints into his prime, Brazil is primed to host its first World Cup in 64 years. This year’s tournament, furnishes the Brazilian government with a rare opportunity to showcase its greatest export on its home soil. Brazil and football are synonymous: A conflation the state has engineered to carry forward its policies inside and outside of the country. Its iconic lineage of soccer stars, starting with Pele and ending with Neymar, provide the state with single-named ambassadors known and loved all over the world.

Through football and its stars, the state has crafted a global image of Brazil that – until recently – has distracted from the range of racial, economic, political and intersectional ills plaguing the South American giant. While playing abroad, the Brazilian football team embodied the stereotypical trilogy that has come to define the nation for the rest of the world: samba, soccer and sex.

However, this time the World Cup will be staged at home. And Brazil is set to host the World Cup during an impasse over riots ripping through the country. The majority of these riots or protests, are led by youth, aptly titled “Generation June“, who embody a portrait of Brazil that threatens the state’s neatly crafted global image.

Can Brazil afford the World Cup?

Brazil has spared no expense for the upcoming World Cup. The month-long competition will feature 64 matches in 12 cities across the country. Refurbishing old stadiums and building new ones has cost Brazil $3.6bn. Several of the new stadiums will seldom be used after the World Cup, and Brasilia’s World Cup stadium is estimated to have cost taxpayers $900m.

Talk to Al Jazeera – Jerome Valcke: ‘FIFA is not the UN’

Tack on an additional $7bn bill for infrastructure, this makes this World Cup an extremely costly one for Brazil, and more specifically, its growing population of unemployed and underemployed, neglected and mistreated citizens. Broken down, each World Cup match will cost Brazil roughly $62m.

Popular protests across Brazil focus squarely on the state’s excessive spending on World Cup preparations and planning, in addition to draconian tactics displacing the poor from coveted communities. The state has cut expenditures and public programmes targeting poor and working-class Brazilians. From the vantage point of these communities, the nexus is clear – a fraction of the billions spent on World Cup stadiums, lodging for tourists, and cosmetic projects could have cured a number of ills plaguing the people.

Put simply, these preparations reveal that this is a World Cup intended for the country’s elite and affluent tourists to enjoy, at the expense of Brazil’s rising indigent and working class segments. Instead of improving urban housing or public transportation, raising the pay of government workers or funding much-needed social projects benefitting the country’s rising poor, Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff gave a blank check to Sports Minister Adelo Rebelo.

Her assignment was clear: Showcase Brazil’s most prized product and players while the world’s light shines brightly on it. The unholy trinity of samba, sex, and soccer will draw millions of tourists that pour in billions of dollars into the nation’s economy during the World Cup’s month-long competition. Dollars likely not to trickle into the communities that gave us Pele, Romario and Rivaldo, nor earmarked at improving the quality of life of millions of poor and working class Brazilians.

Between Neymar and the nameless

His sun-kissed skin, exuberant smile and flair on the pitch personify how the world has come to see the South American nation. One that promises fun and sun, carnival and carnal pleasure. All of this is carefully packaged to lure soccer and sex tourists, corporate sponsors, and the billions of dollars they bring into the country. The advertisements plastered throughout Brazilian cities leading up to the World Cup feature the youthful Neymar, offering to the world a carefully marketed, yet misleading image of its youth.

Viewfinder – Occupying Brazil

Brazil’s protesting youth, however, are little like Neymar. Their struggle harkens back to the heroes of yesterday, such as Romario and Rivaldo, who both hailed from humble beginnings to hoist the Word Cup trophy for Brazil in 1994 and 2002, respectively. Not surprisingly, both Romario and Rivaldo are among the most vocal critics of FIFA and the Brazilian government’s exorbitant expenditures for this summer’s World Cup.

Romario, a congressman from Rio de Janeiro, listed a range of public programmes in need of a fraction of the cost of those vital resources. A Brazilian Horatio Alger who pulled himself from poverty by his soccer cleats, Romario embodies the struggles of the young protestors in a way Neymar does not.

Yet for every Romario, there are millions of Brazilian youth whose dreams of donning the canary yellow outfit are permanently deferred. A long way from brandishing a wicked kick on the pitch, these anonymous youth have been sidelined by economic, racial and political injustices which sparked popular protests against a World Cup millions of marginalised Brazilians cannot win. Their World Cup is on Brazil’s streets, not in its multi-million dollar state-of-the art stadiums.

Largely young, black and brown protestors, hailing from indigent or working class backgrounds, began to organise protests last year. The protests include students and street kids, state employees and unemployed college graduates. FIFA and the Brazilian government want nothing more than to hide these youth and their demands, from the world’s gaze. Yet, they have been protesting for more than a year and seem poised to march forward even after the World Cup kicks off.

Brazil’s people cannot win

On May 16, the riots took a violent turn. Security forces were deployed to violently quell the “Day of Action” protests in Rio, and the state’s aggressive attack on a police union strike in Recife ended with seven deaths. Organisation among protestors, on social media and on the ground, is growing stronger as the World Cup nears, while the state’s desperate attempts to hide them has resulted in increased police profiling and violence, mass incarcerations and death.

With Rousseff and Rebelo dismissing the “riots [as having] nothing to do with World Cup”, the protests are sure to swell after the matches begin on June 12, and swarm around the very stadiums where they are played. The protestors are also well aware of the tourists filing in, the scores of journalists and their cameras, and the billions of eyes all locked on Brazil, which provide an unprecedented platform to amplify their grievances and shame their government.

The millions of sidelined youth, protesting outside of stadiums, will neither don yellow nor kick around the ball with the Brazilian flair the world has always known. They are marching to demand the basic necessities the state has denied them while a $900m stadium in a city with no club team has been built; these protesters are calling for livable wages while the pockets of World Cup handlers grow fatter.

The stakes of this face-off – for Brazil’s people – are much higher than any match played inside Brazil’s multi-million dollar stadiums. They march for food, better schools, livable wages, and recognition from the state. Winning on the streets, for the protesters, means far more than Brazil winning a World Cup at home. Victory will come with World Cup viewers and tourists seeing their protests and hearing their demands, forcing the world to acknowledge the millions of Brazilians living beyond the samba, sex and soccer mirage.

Khaled A Beydoun is the Critical Race Studies Teaching Fellow at the UCLA School of Law. 

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Brazil’s poor stage an alternative World Cup

Rio de Janeiro favela hosts People’s Cup for communities affected by FIFA restrictions, evictions and home demolitions.

Last updated: 03 Jun 2014 10:26

Some Rio residents were evicted to make way for lucrative developments [Elizabeth Gorman/Al Jazeera]

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – Days before the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Sao Paulo, another championship is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro’s historic Port region.

The players aren’t world-famous. Rather, they’re men and women of all ages from Rio’s many favelas, poor communities that surround the city.

La Copa Popular, or the People’s Cup, is hosted by the activist group People’s Committee of the World Cup and Olympics and is in its second year.

The qualifying tournament for this year’s Copa Popular finals took place at the top of the Morro do Salgueiro favela in northern Rio, and the finals will be held on June 8.

A football field crowns the steep, winding hill at the top of the favela, covered in endless layers of housing. Dozens of young football players, local onlookers and members of the media gathered to watch eight teams battle it out.

World Cup for whom?

Larissa Lacerda of Sao Paulo, wearing a “World Cup for Whom?” T-shirt, helped organise the event. “The idea is make a sports competition, which truly has a popular character, with people in some way affected by FIFA’s Cup,” she said.

The FIFA World Cup general law, passed by Brazil’s congress in 2012, restricted local street vendors from selling their wares within a two-kilometre radius of FIFA’s restricted zones. These zones are heavily militarised by local security forces.

Opponents of FIFA, such as the People’s Committee, said preparations for the Cup have also led the government to evict residents from their homes in exchange for commercial development and increasing real-estate values.

Football players battled it out at the Morro do Salgueiro favela in Rio de Janeiro [Elizabeth Gorman/Al Jazeera]

“So there are teams of communities suffering from removals, the street vendors, teams from communities suffering police violence. So we did the Cup to bring visibility to these issues and create debate,” Lacerda said.

The idea wasn’t new. The Poor People’s World Cup was played in South Africa in 2010, in response to the 2010 FIFA World Cup held in the same country. Similarly, the alternative games in South Africa were organised to protest evictions, removals, and the barring of local venders from designated FIFA areas.

Joyce is a 15-year-old striker from the girl’s qualifying team. It’s her first year in the tournament, and her team is on a winning streak. It qualified as one of six teams playing for the People’s Cup finals on June 8.

“A lot of people are suffering because of the World Cup. This is a way to protest,” Joyce told Al Jazeera. “There are a lot of people losing their homes. Health and education are chaotic. They are wasting money on unnecessary things like more roads, when really health and education should be in first place.”

Even so, Joyce plans to watch the World Cup on TV.

She lives in the same neighbourhood as the famous Maracana football stadium, but she won’t see a game because ticket prices have risen beyond her budget. Neither she nor the people living in her community can afford to go. “I’m going to root despite all the problems – it’s the government that is at fault, and it’s something to debate with them,” she said. “I don’t think the players have anything to do with it.”

The government released a document to journalists showing that it spent 100 times as much money on education as on FIFA stadiums. The state has spent 18bn reals ($8bn) on infrastructure projects like roads and transportation, but estimated an immediate return of 30bn reals ($13bn) from the World Cup, plus additional revenue from tourism.

Brazilian law already bars local vendors from selling near stadiums. The government has denied forcibly evicting families from their homes without due process, or for the sole purpose of infrastructure projects related to the World Cup and Olympics.

La Copa Popular was inspired by South Africa’s Poor People’s World Cup held in 2010 [Elizabeth Gorman/Al Jazeera]

Fighting to remain

Activists dispute the government’s claims. Maria do Socorro, a co-organiser and resident of a favela named Indiana, has had to fight to keep her three-story house where she has lived since she was six years old.

Indiana was among a group of favelas slated by the city government for removals in 2010, according to local reports.

“I don’t want to live anywhere else,” she told Al Jazeera. “When they knocked down the first houses, it was in the middle of our community. It was terrible for us, we suffered.”

The public defender’s office reportedly issued an injunction to stop the demolitions in 2012, and that is when the city government stopped moving residents who wanted an upgrade into new apartments.

The series of events caused division in her community and turned neighbour against neighbour.

While hundreds fight to remain, others are waiting for better living conditions from the government.

“For those who want to leave, they think I’m a person who’s stopping them. But I’m not, I’m fighting because I don’t want to leave,” Socorro said.

“I don’t have any pleasure sitting and watching Brazil play when I know that I have to struggle not to get thrown out of my house.”

 

Read more here – http://www.aljazeera.com/sport/brazil2014/features/2014/05/brazil-poor-stage-an-alternative-world-cup-2014530124916700539.html

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Historic UN Maternal Death Case – Brazilian Government gives Monetary Reparations #Goodnews

BRAZILIAN GOVERNMENT GIVES MONETARY REPARATIONS AS PART OF HISTORIC UNITED NATIONS MATERNAL DEATH CASE

03/25/2014 – (PRESS RELEASE) In a ceremony today, the Brazilian government gave monetary reparations to Maria Lourdes da Silva Pimentel, the mother of Alyne—an Afro-Brazilian woman who did not receive immediate medical attention for her pregnancy complications and later died. The reparations are part of the first United Nations ruling on human rights violations in her maternal death case.

 

Almost three years after the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) declared Brazil responsible for the death of Alyne and called on the state to provide access to quality maternal health care without discrimination, the Brazilian government provided her mother with reparations and will place a plaque telling Alyne’s story on April 3, at a maternity ward in Nova Iguaçu Hospital that was renamed in Alyne’s honor last year.

 

“All women have a right to the best maternal health care when they need it—regardless of where they live, their income, or their ethnic background,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Yet more than 4,000 Brazilian women die from pregnancy complications every year—most of which could be prevented if only timely medical care was accessible. Brazil must not only improve maternal health care for women like Alyne, but also commit to ending the deeply seated discrimination poor and Afro-descendent women face when seeking medical treatment in their country.”

 

Alyne, a 28-year-old Afro-Brazilian woman, was six-months pregnant with her second child when she was admitted to the private Health Centre Belford Roxo complaining of nausea in November 2002. Although she presented signs of a high-risk pregnancy, she was discharged without any medical treatment. Two days later, she returned to the private clinic in even worse condition. Doctors discovered that the fetus was no longer viable and removed it, but Alyne’s health continued deteriorating. It took more than eight hours to get an ambulance to take her to Hospital Geral de Nova Iguaçu—where Alyne then suffered more than 21 hours of additional delays before she was finally given medical treatment. She later slipped into a coma and died on November 16, 2002—five days after she initially sought medical attention.

 

The Center for Reproductive Rights and Advocacia Cidadã Pelos Direitos Humanos submitted a petition on behalf of Alyne’s family before CEDAW in November 2007—the first maternal mortality case brought to the human rights body. In 2011, the committee declared Brazil responsible for violating Alyne’s human rights and ordered the state to provide individual reparations to her family and implement general measures to prevent maternal deaths.

 

“It is beyond shameful and inexcusable that doctors and hospital officials repeatedly denied Alyne the very medical attention that could have saved her life,” said Mónica Arango, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Center. “Today the Brazilian government has taken an important step towards righting this terrible wrong by providing these long overdue reparations to Alyne’s mother. But it’s time for state officials to expedite the additional financial reparations for Alyne’s daughter, and finally prioritize meaningful public policies that will improve and guarantee maternal health care for all women.”

 

On February 28, 2014, the CEDAW Committee backed an agreement between the Brazilian government and the Center for Reproductive Rights, representing Alyne’s family, on the monetary compensation that was given to Maria Lourdes da Silva Pimentel. The individual reparations for Alyne’s daughter are still pending. The CEDAW Committee also underscored that the follow up dialogue would continue regarding the other recommendations, particularly the reparations for Alyne´s daughter and the general recommendations to improve quality maternal healthcare for all women in Brazil.

 

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 800 women die every day worldwide from pregnancy complications. Brazil accounts for a quarter of all maternal deaths in Latin America and 90 percent of them could be prevented with prenatal care. Although Brazil has reduced its maternal mortality rate in the last decade, maternal mortality remains the leading cause of death among women of childbearing age, disproportionately affecting low-income, Afro-Brazilian, indigenous women, and those living in rural areas and the Brazilian North and Northeast.

 

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#Sundayreading – Brazilian former slave community fights for land

By Julia CarneiroBBC Brasil, Rio dos Macacos

Julia Carneiro visits the Rio dos Macacos quilombo

In the small community of Rio dos Macacos, in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Bahia, a tall, leafy jack tree stands as a living reminder of history.

Residents say it grew around a pole where slaves used to be tied and beaten. A rusty chain still hangs from its thick trunk, a chilling witness to the past.

“According to our elders, this is where our ancestors were chained and whipped. It’s where our old men suffered,” says Rosimeire dos Santos Silva, one of the community’s leaders.

Rio dos Macacos, home to 67 families, is one of Brazil’s quilombos – communities started by former slaves before forced labour was prohibited in Brazil in 1888.

According to Fundacao Palmares, a government-funded cultural organisation, there are more than 2,400 quilombos across the country.

Many still keep alive the traditions of their ancestors, such as African dance forms and forms of worship.

Enduring dependence

Quilombos were mainly formed by runaway slaves who went to live in hiding, surviving as best as they could by working the land.

A family stands in front of their house in Rio dos MacacosMany families have left the area, but those still there are determined to stay

But in Rio dos Macacos, an hour’s drive from the state capital, Salvador, the story is different.

Ms Silva says their ancestors were brought from Africa to work as slaves in the area’s sugarcane fields up to 200 years ago.

But even after slavery was abolished, elders say their ancestors had few rights. For a long time, they continued to work the sugarcane fields not for pay, but in return for food and housing.

It was only after the local farms went into decline, that the quilombolas – as quilombo residents are known – were allowed to harvest some of the fields and keep the proceeds for themselves.

But no land was ever formally given to them – an omission which is at the root of at their current problems.

Stand-off

Rio dos Macacos has become one of the most emblematic cases of the battle of quilombolas for land, with the community embroiled in a lengthy and tense dispute with the navy.

Woman in Rio dos Macacos cooks on an outdoor stoveRio dos Macacos residents live in simple houses and cook outdoors

Brazil’s constitution – signed in 1988, 100 years after slavery was abolished – ruled that quilombolas were entitled to the land they had historically occupied.

“Start Quote

It’s like we’re still living in a slave house”

Rosimeire dos Santos SilvaCommunity leader

But this has not always been the case in practice.

Since 1988, only 207 quilombos have been issued with property titles. More than 1,200 requests have still to be dealt with, according to figures from the Fundacao Palmares.

It is a long and complicated legal process, which often pitches the quilombos, generally very poor communities, against big landowners.

In the case of Rio dos Macacos, the quilombo is in conflict with the Brazilian state itself.

The navy built a naval base in the area in the 1950, and as the base grew, the area where quilombolas lived shrank, local residents say.

Woman and child in the quilomboThe residents say they are entitled to the land under Brazil’s 1988 constitution

Today, the Aaratu Naval Base is the second largest in the country.

One of the oldest residents, Maria de Souza Oliveira, 86, remembers how 70 families were moved to make way for a village built for the families of navy personnel in the 1970s.

Nowadays, some 450 families live in the navy village, just across the Macacos river from the quilombo.

“They kicked lots of people out and now they want the rest of us to leave. But I want to stay until I die,” she says.

The land she lives on formally belongs to the state, but Dona Maria, as she is known, and the quilombolas say they are entitled to it under the constitution.

But the navy says it needs the land to build a training centre for marines. The chief of staff at Brazil’s Ministry of Defence, Antonio Lessa, says the base is of strategic importance to national security.

Escalating tension

The law has so far backed the navy, but the legal battle has now reached the federal government in Brasilia.

The government has offered the community 28 hectares (70 acres) of land in the area, on a plot some way away from where their houses currently stand.

But the government authority in charge of overseeing quilombo land applications, the National Institute of Colonisation and Agrarian Reform (Incra), says the families are entitled to 10 times as much land.

Incra’s report was taken to the federal capital Brasilia, but according to lawyer Mauricio Correa, who assists Rio de Macacos residents, it was “not allowed to be officially published”.

“It was a political decision. The case was taken from Incra’s hands,” Mr Correa says.

Community leader Rosimeire dos Santos Silva says the residents are coming under increasing pressure and have even been intimidated by navy personnel.

Rosimeire dos Santos SilvaRosimeire dos Santos Silva says the community has had its crops pulled out

“They harass our children on their way to school. And if we try to work the soil, we’re beaten up, they don’t let us. It’s like we’re still living in a slave house,” she says.

Mr Lessa says the allegations have been investigated and no concrete evidence was found.

He says the navy is keen to reach an agreement with the quilombolas.

Without land titles and facing increasing uncertainty, many families have already left the quilombo over the past decades.

But those still there say this is where they belong and have vowed to stand their ground.

Read more here– http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-25622027

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Kayapo- The amazon tribe that fought for 40 years #mustread

Picture of a Kayapo girl with an orphaned spider monkey

Kayapo Courage

The Amazon tribe has beaten back ranchers and gold miners and famously stopped a dam. Now its leaders must fight again or risk losing a way of life.

By Chip Brown
Photograph by Martin Schoeller

It was tempting to think we were going back in time, slipping the bonds of the modern world for tribal life in one of the last great bastions of indigenous culture, chronically jeopardized but still vital, intact, unvanquished. The outsiders who first ventured into the southeast Amazon Basin centuries ago—missionaries, El Dorado seekers, slave traders, jaguar-skin hunters, rubber tappers, wilderness explorers known as sertanistas—traveled by river on laborious boat journeys. We had a single-engine Cessna and good weather on a September morning late in the dry season.

The plane clawed through the haze of forest fires around the Brazilian frontier town of Tucumã. After half an hour heading south and west at a hundred knots, we crossed the twisting course of the muddy Rio Branco, and suddenly there were no more fires, no more roads, no more ragged clear-cut pastures stippled with herds of white cattle, nothing but trackless forest wreathed in mist. Below us lay Kayapo Indian country, five officially demarcated tracts of contiguous land that in sum make up an area about the size of Kentucky. The reserve, which is among the largest protected expanses of tropical rain forest in the world, is controlled by 9,000 indigenous people, most of whom can’t read or write and who still follow a largely subsistence way of life in 44 villages linked only by rivers and all-but-invisible trails. Our National Geographic crew was headed to one of the most remote, the village of Kendjam, which means “standing stone” and which took its name from a dark gray mountain that now appeared before us, arcing some 800 feet above the green canopy like a breaching whale. A little past the mountain lay the glittering braids of the Iriri River, the largest tributary of the Xingu, itself a major tributary of the Amazon. The Cessna swerved down on a dirt airstrip slashed through the forest between the rock and the river and taxied past small garden plots and thatch houses arranged in a circle around a sandy plaza.

When we got out, a dozen or so kids wearing only shorts or nothing at all swarmed around, crouching in the shade of the wings. If you caught their eye, they giggled, glanced away, then peeked to see if you were still looking. The ears of the youngest among them were pierced with conical wooden plugs as thick as a Magic Marker. Kayapo pierce their infants’ earlobes as a way of symbolically expanding a baby’s capacity to understand language and the social dimension of existence; their phrase for “stupid” is ama kre ket, or “no ear hole.”

The kids watched closely as we unloaded our gear, including some gifts for our hosts: fishhooks, tobacco, 22 pounds of high-quality beads made in the Czech Republic.

Barbara Zimmerman, the director of the Kayapo Project for the International Conservation Fund of Canada and the United States–based Environmental Defense Fund, introduced us to the village chief, Pukatire, a middle-aged man wearing glasses, shorts, and flip-flops.“Akatemai,” he said, shaking hands, and adding the bit of English he’d picked up on a trip to North America: “Hello! How are you?”

Kendjam looks timeless, but it was established only in 1998, when Chief Pukatire and his followers split off from the village of Pukanu, farther up the Iriri River, after a dispute about logging. “Fissioning,” as anthropologists call it, is often the way Kayapo resolve disagreements or relieve the strain on resources in a particular area. The village’s population is now 187, and for all its classic appearance there are additions that would have boggled the minds of Pukatire’s ancestors: a generator in a government-built nurses’ station; a solar panel array enclosed in a barbed wire fence; satellite dishes mounted on truncated palm trees. A few families have TVs in their thatch houses and enjoy watching videos of their own ceremonies, along with Brazilian soap operas. Pukatire showed us to a two-room schoolhouse built a few years ago by the Brazilian government—a pistachio-colored concrete structure with a tile roof and shutters and the luxe marvel of a flush toilet fed by well water. We pitched our tents on the veranda.

The heat of the day began to build, and a drowsy peace settled over the village, broken now and then by squabbling dogs and operatic roosters rehearsing for tomorrow’s sunrise. The ngobe, or men’s house, was deserted. At the edge of the central plaza, or kapôt, women sat in the shade of mango and palm trees, shelling nuts and cooking fish wrapped in leaves and buried in coals. Some headed out to the charred earth of their swidden gardens to tend crops of manioc, bananas, and sweet potatoes. A tortoise hunter returned from the forest, loudly singing in the Kayapo custom to announce his successful quest for the land turtles that are a vital part of the village diet. Toward evening the heat ebbed. A group of young warriors skirmished over a soccer ball. About 20 women with loops of colored beads around their necks and babies on their hips gathered in the kapôt and began to march around in step, chanting songs. Boys with slingshots fired rocks at lapwings and swallows; one stunned a white-throated kingbird and clutched it in his hand—the yellow-breasted bird glaring defiantly like the peasant unafraid of the firing squad in the famous Goya painting. Families filtered down to the Iriri for their regular evening baths, but there were caimans in the river, and they did not linger as darkness fell. Eight degrees south of the Equator, the blood orange sun sank quickly. Howler monkeys roared over the dial-tone drone of the cicadas, and earthy odors eddied onto the night air.

At first glance, Kendjam seems a kind of Eden. And perhaps it is. But that’s hardly to say the history of the Kayapo people is a pastoral idyll exempt from the persecution and disease that have ravaged nearly every indigenous tribe in North and South America. In 1900, 11 years after the founding of the Brazilian Republic, the Kayapo population was about 4,000. As miners, loggers, rubber tappers, and ranchers poured into the Brazilian frontier, missionary organizations and government agencies launched efforts to “pacify” aboriginal tribes, wooing them with trade goods such as cloth, metal pots, machetes, and axes. Contact often had the unintended effect of introducing measles and other diseases to people who had no natural immunity. By the late 1970s, following the construction of the Trans-Amazon Highway, the population had dwindled to about 1,300.

But if they were battered, they were never broken. In the 1980s and ’90s the Kayapo rallied, led by a legendary generation of chiefs who harnessed their warrior culture to achieve their political goals. Leaders like Ropni and Mekaron-Ti organized protests with military precision, began to apply pressure, and, as I learned from Zimmerman, who has been working with the Kayapo for more than 20 years, would even kill people caught trespassing on their land. Kayapo war parties evicted illegal ranchers and gold miners, sometimes offering them the choice of leaving Indian land in two hours or being killed on the spot. Warriors took control of strategic river crossings and patrolled borders; they seized hostages; they sent captured trespassers back to town without their clothes.

In their struggle for autonomy and control over their land, the chiefs of that era learned Portuguese and were able to enlist the help of conservation organizations and celebrities such as the rock star Sting, who traveled with Chief Ropni (also known as Raoni). In 1988 the Kayapo helped get indigenous rights written into the new Brazilian Constitution, and eventually they secured legal recognition of their territory. In 1989 they protested the construction of the Kararaô Dam project on the Xingu River, which would have flooded parts of their land. The original plan calling for six dams in the basin was dropped after large demonstrations in which conservation groups joined the Kayapo for what is known today as the Altamira Gathering. “At the 1989 rally at Altamira, Kayapo leaders made a brilliant translation of the Kayapo warrior tradition to the tradition of the 20th-century media spectacle,” says anthropologist Stephan Schwartzman of the Environmental Defense Fund. “They changed the terms of the discussion.”

The Kayapo population is now rapidly growing. From shotguns and motorized aluminum boats to Facebook pages, they have shown a canny ability to adopt technologies and practices of the cash-based society at their borders without compromising the essence of their culture. With the help of noted anthropologist and Kayapo expert Terence Turner of Cornell University, they have embraced video cameras to record their ceremonies and dances and to log interactions with government officials. One small example of their ability to incorporate elements of the outside world into their culture is a pattern now fashionable with Kayapo bead workers: It is based on the logo of the Bank of Brazil. Much to the dismay of some conservationists, several village chiefs formed partnerships with gold mining companies in the 1980s and in the 1990s sold mahogany logging concessions—alliances they came to regret and now have largely ended.

Mostly the Kayapo learned to organize and to put aside their sometimes fractious relations to cultivate unity of purpose among themselves. As a result, they are perhaps the richest and most powerful of around 240 indigenous tribes remaining in Brazil. Their ceremonies, their kinship systems, their Gê language, and their knowledge of the forest and conception of the continuum between humans and the natural world are intact. What may be the most crucial of all, they have their land. “The Kayapo aren’t entering the 21st century as a defeated people. They aren’t degrading themselves,” Zimmerman told me. “They haven’t lost a sense of who they are.”

At least for the moment. It’s one thing to teach the skills and ceremonies of traditional culture; it’s another to inspire a sense of why knowledge of how to make arrow-tip poison (from herbs and snake venom with beeswax as an adhesive) or stack tortoises or stun fish using oxygen-depriving timbo vines might be valuable to a generation beguiled by iPhones and the convenience of store-bought food. Interest in traditional dress, beadwork, and ancestral practices is still strong in Kendjam, but it’s not uniform, and even if it were, the threats from outside are daunting.

“The Brazilian government is trying to pass laws saying indigenous people don’t need to be consulted for their rivers to be used for electricity or mining or even if the boundaries of their lands need to be redrawn,” said Adriano “Pingo” Jerozolimski, the director of a nonprofit Kayapo organization that represents about 22 Kayapo villages. Last June in the village of Kokraimoro, 400 Kayapo chiefs avowed their opposition to a raft of decrees, ordinances, and proposed laws and constitutional amendments that would gut their ability to control their land and prevent them, and any other indigenous group, from adding to their territory. The measures, which echo the dismal history of betrayal and dispossession in North America, are widely seen as part of a campaign to enable mining, logging, and agricultural interests to circumvent indigenous rights, now inconveniently guaranteed by the Brazilian Constitution. Among the many facets of this political struggle, perhaps the most wrenching at the moment is the effort to stop a project the Kayapo thought they had scotched more than two decades ago. The Kararaô project is back under a new name: the Belo Monte hydroelectric complex.

On our second day in Kendjam we went down the Iriri River with two Kayapo marksmen: Okêt, a 25-year-old with three daughters and four sons; and Meikâre, a 38-year-old with two boys and five girls. (In Kayapo villages the division of labor falls along traditional lines. The men hunt and fish; the women cook, garden, and gather fruits and nuts.) Meikâre wore yellow-green beaded armbands and a long blue feather tied to a headband. We pulled away on two aluminum skiffs powered by Rabeta motors that enable shallow-water travel during the dry season. In places the river was black and still as a midnight mirror; in others it looked like tea flowing over the brown Brazilian shield rock, purling through gentle rapids or weaving among gardens of granitic Precambrian boulders.

When we reached a wide, bay-like stretch, Okêt steered for an open area on the west side of the Iriri and cut the engine. We clambered ashore. Okêt and Meikâre slipped into the forest gracefully; Meikâre had a bow and arrows over his shoulders, Okêt a shotgun. After five minutes of ducking and twisting and wriggling past a riot of thorny ferns and fallen limbs, stopping constantly to unhook myself from vines and to disabuse my adrenal glands of the conviction that venomous pit vipers lurked under every pile of leaves, I had no idea which way was east or west, no sense of where the river was, no hope of getting back to the boat on my own.

We picked up a faint game trail. Meikâre pointed to the scat of a collared peccary, a small wild swine, and then just off the trail, a trampled area where the peccary had slept. It was as obvious to Meikâre as the meat department of a Stop & Shop would be to me. He and Okêt darted ahead. Fifteen minutes later a shot rang out, then two more.

When I caught up, a collared peccary lay dead on a bed of leaves. Meikâre fashioned some twine from a swatch of bark and bound the animal’s feet. He cut another belt-shaped length of bark and lashed it to the fore and hind legs. He slung the load over his shoulder, moving with 30 pounds of peccary on his back as if it were no heavier than a cashmere shawl.

The Kayapo we’d left behind had been busy fishing. First they had plugged the escape holes of a mole cricket nest in a sandbank and then had dug up and captured a batch of mole crickets, which they used to bait fishhooks and catch piranha. They chopped up the piranha on a mahogany canoe paddle and used the pieces as bait to catch peacock bass and piabanha. They started a tidy wood fire on the riverbank with Bic lighters and cooked the lunch on freshly whittled skewers.

In midafternoon we motored on toward Kendjam against the light current. Meikâre reclined in the bow, back propped against a mahogany paddle, feet up, hands laced behind his head, gazing out at the hypnotic water like a commuter heading home on the train after a long day.

That night Chief Pukatire wandered over to our camp with a flashlight. “The only things we need from the white culture are flip-flops, flashlights, and glasses,” he said amiably. I wondered if he’d heard how skillfully I’d negotiated the forest that afternoon, because he said he had a new name for me: “Rop-krore,” the Kayapo word for spotted jaguar. He had a good humor about him; you never would have guessed that two of his children had died of malaria not long after the founding of Kendjam.

The village census lists the year of Pukatire’s birth as 1953, and notes the names of his wife, their 38-year-old daughter, and their three grandchildren. He said he was born near the town of Novo Progresso, west of Kendjam, in the time before contact. When Pukatire’s village was attacked by Kayapo from the village of Baú, his mother and his baby sister were killed; Pukatire and his brother were taken away and raised in Baú. Pukatire was around 6 or 7 at the time, he said, and it was not until he was 12 or 13 that he was reunited with his father. “We were happy. We cried,” he said.

Pukatire learned some Portuguese from missionaries and was recruited to help with the program of pacification by the Indian Protection Service, a forerunner of the National Indian Foundation, or FUNAI, the government agency that today represents the interests of Brazil’s aboriginal people. “Before contact we were clubbing each other to death, and everybody lived in fear,” he said. “Without a doubt things are much better today because people aren’t hitting each other over the head with war clubs.”

But Pukatire sounded a lament I heard over and over: “I am worried about our young people who are imitating whites, cutting their hair and wearing stupid little earrings like you see in town. None of the young people know how to make poison for arrows. In Brasília the Kayapo are always told they are going to lose their culture and they might as well get it over with. The elders have to speak up and say to our young people, ‘You can’t use the white man’s stuff. Let the white people have their culture, we have ours.’ If we start copying white people too much, they won’t be afraid of us, and they will come and take everything we have. But as long as we maintain our traditions, we will be different, and as long as we are different, they will be a little afraid of us.”

It was late; Pukatire got up and said good night. Tomorrow would be a big day. The Kayapo leader Mekaron-Ti and the great Ropni, who’d traveled the world in defense of the forest decades ago, were coming to Kendjam to resume the battle against the dam that wouldn’t die.

After four decades of plans dating back to Brazil’s military dictatorship, four decades of studies, protests, revised plans, court rulings, court reversals, blockades, international appeals, a film by Avatar director James Cameron, and lawsuits, construction finally began in 2011 on the $14 billion Belo Monte. The complex of canals, reservoirs, dikes, and two dams is located some 300 miles north of Kendjam on the Xingu, where the river makes a giant U-turn called the Volta Grande. The project, which will have a maximum generating capacity of 11,233 megawatts and is slated to come on line in 2015, has divided the country. Its supporters defend it as a way of delivering needed electricity, while environmentalists have condemned it as a social, environmental, and financial disaster.

In 2005 the Brazilian Congress voted to revive the dam on the grounds that its energy was essential to the security of the rapidly growing nation. The Kayapo and other tribes affected by the plans reassembled in Altamira in 2008. A project engineer from Eletrobras, the state-owned power company, was mobbed and suffered a “deep, bloody gash on his shoulder,” according to news accounts at the time. Claiming that the project’s environmental impact statements were defective and that the region’s indigenous people were not adequately consulted, Brazil’s federal Public Prosecutor’s Office filed a series of lawsuits to stop the complex, essentially pitting one branch of the government against another. The cases went to the country’s Supreme Court, but judgments have been deferred, and construction of Belo Monte has been allowed to proceed.

Even a complex consisting of just two dams will have an enormous impact on the Xingu Basin, thanks to roads and the influx of an estimated 100,000 workers and migrants. The dams will flood an area the size of Chicago. Official estimates project that 20,000 people will be displaced; independent estimates suggest the number may be twice as high. The dams will generate methane from inundated vegetation in quantities that rival the greenhouse gas emissions of coal-fired power plants. The diversion of some 80 percent of the water along a 62-mile stretch of the Xingu will dry up areas that depend on seasonal floodwaters and are home to endangered species.

“The key now is what comes after this,” says Schwartzman. “The government has said only the Belo Monte project will be built, but the original proposal was for five other dams, and there are questions whether Belo Monte alone will be cost-effective or whether the government will come back later and say we need to build these other dams.”

The morning of the great chiefs’ arrival in Kendjam, two dozen Kayapo women, bare-breasted in black underwear and ropes of colored beads, went through what seemed like a dress rehearsal, chanting and marching around the kapôt. Around 4 p.m. the sound of a plane drew a crowd to the airstrip.

Ropni and Mekaron-Ti disembarked with a third chief from the south named Yte-i. Ropni is one of five elder Kayapo who still wear the lip disk—a mahogany puck the size of a small pancake that extends the lower lip. He carried a wooden war club, shaped like a medieval sword. As he stood by the plane, a woman approached, held his hand, and began to sob. In a different culture bodyguards might have hustled her away, but Ropni seemed unfazed and in fact began sobbing as well. The anguished weeping was not the result of some fresh catastrophe but a form of ritual Kayapo mourning for departed mutual friends.

That evening in the men’s house, Ropni addressed the Kendjam villagers, vaulting across octaves with the glissading intonation of Kayapo speech. He stabbed the air with his hands and thumped his club: “I don’t like Kayapo imitating white culture. I don’t like gold miners. I don’t like loggers. I don’t like the dam!”

One of his purposes in coming to Kendjam was to find out why the chiefs of the eastern part of the territory had been accepting money from Eletrobras. Boxes of brand-new 25-horsepower boat motors were stacked on the porch of the Protected Forest Association headquarters. Ropni’s village and other villages in the south had steadfastly refused money from Eletrobras, money that activists said was an attempt to dampen indigenous opposition to Belo Monte. The consortium building the dam was investing in wells, clinics, and roads in the area and was paying a dozen villages nearby an allowance of 30,000 reais a month (roughly $15,000) for food and supplies, which Schwartzman describes as “hush money.”

The first Kayapo encounters with the grimy Brazilian banknotes led to the coining of their evocative word for money: pe-o caprin, or “sad leaves.” More and more sad leaves were a part of Kayapo life, especially in villages close to towns on the Brazilian frontier. In the Kayapo village of Turedjam, near Tucumã, pollution from clear-cutting and cattle ranching had wrecked the fishing grounds, and it was not uncommon to see Kayapo shopping in supermarkets for soap and frozen chicken.

For three nights Pukatire led Ropni and Mekaron-Ti and Yte-i to our camp, where they would sit on the schoolhouse veranda, lighting their pipes and drinking coffee and telling stories while vampire bats veered through the wan aura of a fluorescent bulb. “In the old days men were men,” Ropni said. “They were raised to be warriors; they weren’t afraid to die. They weren’t afraid to back up their words with action. They met guns with bows and arrows. A lot of Indians died, but a lot of whites died too. That’s what formed me: the warrior tradition. I have never been afraid to say what I believed. I have never felt humiliated in front of the whites. They need to respect us, but we need to respect them too. I still think that warrior tradition survives. The Kayapo will fight again if threatened, but I have counseled my people not to go looking for fights.”

He barked for more coffee, and then, seemingly agitated, took his cup to the edge of the veranda, away from the circle of schoolhouse chairs. For a long while, he stared into the darkness.

On the day the chiefs left, there were letters they needed to sign—FUNAI paperwork authorizing various matters they had discussed. Mekaron-Ti, who was fluent in the Western world as well as the forest world, signed his name quickly like someone who had written a thousand letters. But Ropni held the pen awkwardly. It was striking to see him struggle with the letters of his name, knowing what esoteric expertise was otherwise in his hands, how deftly he could fasten a palm nut belt, or insert a lip plate, or whittle a stingray tail into an arrowhead, or underscore the oratory that had helped secure a future for his people. In the Xingu Valley there had hardly ever been a more able pair of hands. But in the realm that required penmanship, the great chief was like a child.

Six months later, 26 eastern Kayapo leaders met in Tucumã and signed a letter rejecting further money from the dambuilding consortium: “We, the Mebengôkre Kayapo people, have decided that we do not want a single penny of your dirty money. We do not accept Belo Monte or any other dam on the Xingu. Our river does not have a price, our fish that we eat does not have a price, and the happiness of our grandchildren does not have a price. We will never stop fighting… The Xingu is our home and you are not welcome here.”

Somehow word had gotten out. The paleface with no holes in his ears was heading up Kendjam Mountain. It was 2:30 in the afternoon, and before our hiking group was halfway down the airstrip, we’d picked up a tail of kids, 15 or so, a cluster of teen and preteen girls and boys with painted faces carrying water in old soda bottles, and even one ebullient little fellow who couldn’t have been more than four: barefoot and unsupervised with no parent hovering about to make sure he didn’t get lost or eaten by a jaguar or poisoned by a pit viper or pierced by the thorns and spines on every other plant.

He was wearing just a pair of shorts—in contrast to me, in boots, hat, shirt, long pants, sunglasses, SPF three million sunblock, and three bandannas to mop up biblical torrents of sweat. We walked single file for a while, and then the kids rushed past, swarming around some tall shrubs; they pulled the branches down and chopped off seedpods of the wild inga fruit.

After 45 minutes the trail began to rise. The gray stone of the mountain loomed above: vertical walls, no fissures or obvious cracks. North, south, and west, its sides were seemingly unclimbable, but the eastern end sloped into the forest. The teenagers laughed and chattered up the steep grade, vaulting logs and swinging on vines. A narrow trail zigzagged up the side and cut through a cleft where you had to haul yourself with sweaty hands over a large boulder.

A long ramp led up to the summit dome. All the kids were sitting on the summit, backlit by a milky blue sky. I wheezed up after them. Brown-gray lizards scuttled around. The children scuttled around too, fearlessly flirting with the void where the rock fell precipitously for five or six hundred feet, maybe more. No handrails. No liability advisories. No adult supervision. The four-year-old boy capered at the edge of the abyss, laughing and exulting as if it was the most marvelous day of the year.

When we all started down, he ran on ahead, and I found myself thinking about the night after the big chiefs had gone, when one of our guides, Djyti, came to visit, and we asked him a crucial question. “Can you be a Kayapo and not live in the forest?” Djyti thought for a while, then shook his head and said no. Then, as if contemplating something unthinkable, he added: “You are still a Kayapo, but you don’t have your culture.”

In the past some anthropologists have fetishized cultural purity, fretting over the introduction of modern technology. But cultures evolve opportunistically like species—the Plains Indians of North America picked up their iconic horses from the Spanish—and strong traditional cultures will privilege themselves, making the accommodations they think will ensure their futures. We can question whether a man dressed in a parrot feather headdress and penis sheath is more valuable than one in a Batman T-shirt and gym shorts. But who can be blind to their knowledge of forest plants and animals or to the preeminent values of clean water, untainted air, and the genetic and cultural treasure of diversity itself?

It is one of the richest ironies of the Amazon that the supposedly civilized outsiders who spent five centuries evangelizing, exploiting, and exterminating aboriginal people are now turning to those first inhabitants to save ecosystems recognized as critical to the health of the planet—to defend essential tracts of undeveloped land from the developed world’s insatiable appetites.

My four-year-old friend—I never did learn his name—had run all the way home long before I staggered back to the easy walking of the airstrip. It was nearly dark. Maybe his mom had plunked him in front of a TV to watch a video of a Kayapo ceremony or a Brazilian soap opera. And maybe to him the day was no great lark either, nothing memorably distinct from all the other days. Still, it seemed hard to imagine a more perfect life for a kid his age than to be a free and footloose Kayapo at home in the forest. Long may he run.

Chip Brown’s most recent story profiled climber Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner. Martin Schoeller’s portraits appeared in the October 2013 photography issue.
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Brazilian judge rules in favour of farmers against Monsanto #GOODNEWS

Flowers from a garden in Monsanto, Portugal

Flowers from a garden in Monsanto, Portugal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A judge in Brazil has blocked Monsanto‘s attempt to make farmers sign restrictive agreements before they can gain access to the company’s new GM seed, RR2 Intacta soybeans.

The legal case was brought against Monsanto by the farmers’ union Sinop Rural Union and applies to all farmers in the state of Mato Grosso.

The background to this story is that last year the Brazilian Supreme Court ruled that Monsanto had collected royalties from farmers illegally for its RR1 soybeans and that the company must refund the farmers.
http://www.nature.com/news/monsanto-may-lose-gm-soya-royalties-throughout-brazil-1.10837

Monsanto then reached a deal with Famato and other farmers’ unions. The deal was that farmers who wanted to plant RR2 Intacta soybeans would sign an agreement with Monsanto at point of purchase, waiving their rights to a refund of the illegally collected royalties.

Any farmer who signed the agreement would also be signing away other important rights. He would grant Monsanto the right to enter and inspect his property at any time. The farmer would be left completely vulnerable to ANY decisions the company might make, including royalty fee increases or having part of his harvest confiscated – and he would agree not to sue Monsanto at any time. At the same time, the company does not guarantee a yield increase from RR2 Intacta.

The farmer would also agree to “the declaration of principles that recognise the intellectual property rights on agricultural technologies”. This contravenes Brazilian seed law, which protects farmers’ rights to save seed and to use or sell the products of their own cultivation. In short, the agreement put Monsanto’s interests above Brazilian law and deprived farmers of their rights.

In the latest ruling on 11 October, the judge blocked Monsanto’s demands that farmers sign the agreement as a condition to buy RR2. The judge said that Monsanto is unfairly taking advantage of its favorable position in the market as the only technology provider of Intacta RR2, in forcing farmers to “to comply with clauses that are burdensome, if not illegal” as a condition of purchasing the product. In addition, the judge said that Monsanto’s agreement may contravene Brazilian consumer law.

A Brazilian source told GMWatch that Monsanto is experiencing growing resistance to its methods in Brazil: “As in the USA, farmers who prefer to cultivate non-GM soybeans to avoid the complications are frequently accused of delivering GM-contaminated soybeans. A test is made by a Monsanto technician when the soybeans arrive at the silos. If the result is positive, the farmer can’t verify the accuracy of the test.”

If GM contamination is alleged, then not only does the farmer have to pay royalties to Monsanto, but he loses the premium for his non-GMO soy harvest.

The source added that despite the company’s struggles to consolidate its products and set aside the legal disputes, RR2 is still far from being the “product of choice” for farmers: “In recent TV interviews, farmers said they will go back to non-GM soy varieties with a higher yield than RR2. They also say this avoids a lot of trouble.

“Although many are still led to believe Monsanto is a partner, more and more are becoming aware of the abusive practices. As a result, not as many farmers will go for RR2 in 2014.”

For those who read Portuguese, latest court decision is reproduced here:
http://bit.ly/17lWaCD
The Google translation into English is here:
http://bit.ly/1gzbnqV

And here’s a draft of the Monsanto agreement, again in Portuguese, with the interspersed remarks of an unimpressed Famato attorney in red, here:
http://www.sistemafamato.org.br/site/arquivos/05022013043646.pdf
The final agreement is here:
http://www.aprosoja.com.br/sistema/modules/servicos/uploads/files/Acordo_Licenciamento_PRODUTOR.pdf

As a postscript, the judge’s summary of the legal complaint brought by Sinop Rural Union (item 2 below) gives an interesting account of the circumstances in which RR2 Intacta was introduced in Brazil. Monsanto’s launch of RR2 Intacta followed close behind the arrival of a convenient plague of caterpillars, of a type that RR2 Intacta was specifically engineered to kill.

1. Intacta: Judge rules in favour of Sinop Rural Union of farmers, against Monsanto; ruling covers whole of Mato Grosso
2. Public Civil Action No. 42947-12.2013.811.0041 (id: 838240): Decision by judge Alex Nunes Figueiredo


1. Intacta: Judge rules in favour of Sinop Rural Union of farmers, against Monsanto; ruling covers whole of Mato Grosso
Notícias Agrícolas, 11 Oct 2013
http://bit.ly/17lWaCD (Portuguese original)
Google translation into English: http://bit.ly/1gzbnqV
Rough translation below (shortened) by Google/GMWatch

The judge of the Specialized Court for Civil Actions of Mato Grosso/Cuiaba, Alex Nunes Figueiredo, on Friday 11 ruled in favour of the farmers of Sinop Rural Union and against Monsanto. The company was demanding, at point of sale of Intacta [RR2 soy], that the farmers waive their right to a refund of the royalties charged illegally for RR1 technology.

According to the lawyer for Sinop Rural Union, Orlando Caesar, this decision applies only to the state of Mato Grosso; however, it opens the door for other states to launch a similar action. “The first similar action happened in Bahia with the union of [the city of] Luís Eduardo Magalhães, and then with Sinop.” Actions can be collective or individual, according to the lawyer.

Caesar also states that this decision is known as anticipation of the effects of an action. “The judge predicted illegal actions by Monsanto and in an attempt to prevent further injury [to famers], decided on these precautionary measures.”

These actions [by Monsanto] have been going on in various parts of Brazil, such as Bahia, Luís Eduardo Magalhães, Rio Grande do Sul, and Mato Grosso, in an attempt to block court orders for the repayment of improper collection of royalties already defined [in a ruling] by the Court of the First Instance.

Along with the waiver of the refund of royalties, Monsanto also demanded the signing of an agreement for use of technology that would allow employees of the company to monitor cultivations and to enter farms to control planting on the grounds of preventing the spread of this new technology.

According to information from technicians[?], Monsanto aims to prevent farmers from saving seeds and reproducing them individually, according to the law of cultivars [which allows this practice]. [The company is] even pushing MPs to change the law to end the right of farmers to save seeds.

Below is the position of Monsanto on the issue:

“Monsanto has received no official notification from the Court of Mato Grosso. In case of such notification, Monsanto will take appropriate legal steps.” …


2. Public Civil Action No. 42947-12.2013.811.0041 (id: 838240): Decision by judge Alex Nunes Figueiredo
Plaintiff: Sinop Rural Union
Defendant: Monsanto Brazil Ltda
10 October 2013
Ruling in Portuguese:
http://bit.ly/17lWaCD
Google translation into English:
http://bit.ly/1gzbnqV

This is a public civil action for an injunction filed by Sinop Rural Union against Monsanto Brazil Ltda, alleging in essence that it began to market the required patented technology Intacta RR2 Pro using unfair practices, and by taking advantage of its absolute [monopoly] control over the technology.

The plaintiff states that in the 2012/2013 harvest the caterpillar of Helicoperva armigera drastically affected soybean crops in the country, proliferating at exponential rates.

Concurrent with the appearance of this pest, Intacta RR2 Pro technology, which has resistance to Helicoperva armigera, was launched, meaning that this technology was to become the object of desire of many farmers.

However, the plaintiff states that the defendant placed conditions on the purchase of this product–the signing of terms of agreement containing numerous clauses that are abusive and illegal.

In conclusion, arguing the presence of the authorised requirements for a preliminary injunction, [the plaintiff] pleaded for approval of the measure in the following terms:

“a) to cause the defendant to refrain from requiring the signature of documents called “Technology License Agreement” and “Agreement on Technology Licensing and General Discharge as a condition for improvement of contracts for the purchase and sale of Intacta RR2 Pro seeds for cultivation; b) suspend the effectiveness of the agreements already signed; and c) extend the decision to all producers of Mato Grosso.”

 

 

 

 

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Indian Film on Tarapur Nuclear Project “High Power’ nominated for Yellow Oscar #mustshare

Documentary on Tarapur Nuclear Project affected people

‘High Power’ nominated for Yellow Oscar

World Premier on 23rd May at Rio-de-Janerio, Brazil

About 50 years ago India’s first nuclear power plant established at Tarapur. In the emotional patriotic feelings the locals happily gave their fertile lands. Today after 50 years we heard some news that the second generation of those patriotic farmers are agitating at Tarapur for their basic amenities. We the city dwellers read such news and forget next day. But what exactly happened in Tarapur in last 50 years in Tarapur? What happened to the dreams which were shown to them in those days? That’s is untold. To enlighten the world outside about the dark sorrows of the villagers whose village is now producing light, a documentary was planned, which further named as ‘High Power’. The film which was made to give voice to the pains of those thousands of people is produced through people’s participation. Then some veteran artist from Hindi, Marathi stage and cinema world came forward to mix their voice with these people. The National Award winner actor Vikram Gokhale and leading Marathi actress Ila Bhate narrated for Marathi version of the film and senior actor from Hindi and English film and stage Tom Alter and Shivani Tibarewala narrated the English version of   film. Along with these celebrities few technicians and producers from film industry helped a lot to make this film happened.  Now the film is translated in seven languages which includes some foreign languages like French, German, Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese along with Hindi and English. So now the film is truly International and now set to talk to global media and audience, but as the Censor Board has raised objections film cannot be released in India.

Though the project is named as Tarapur, it is not standing on the land of Tarapur village. Few villages in the vicinity of town Tarapur were displaced about 50 years back. Their issues related to rehabilitation are still pending, they lost their traditional business of fishing at the same time they did not get new jobs in this project, there are very serious issues related to their health like cancer, TB, kidney failures and also impotency. A protagonist is roaming in villages and whatever he sees there that is the film. The film never talks on this issues or gives its comments but as per the common middleclass mentality film only suggests what a common, middleclass person can do at his best.

The film High Power is sent to participate in different International Film Festivals and it was a great pleasure that it got nominated for ‘Yellow Oscar’. Every year in the city of Rio-de-Janerio of Brazil an International Uranium Film festival calls nuclear related films from all over world. This year more than 150 films participated in this festival, out of which 48 got selected in three sections of feature film, short film and animation film, in which High Power selected in short film section of 19 films. Today High power is within best eight of entire festival. On 23rd May High power will be screened in festival at rio-de-Janerio and it will be its World Premier. To be present in this world premier and the festival, film director Pradeep Indulkar and one of the displaced fisherman from Popharan village Chandrasen Arekar are going to Brazil. This is an opportunity for the representative of displaced people Arekar to talk to the global media and the international audience.

For this trip the expected expense is around two and half lakh rupees. The team High Power appeal the city dwellers who are using the power of Tarapur Nuclear Plant from last 50 years and those who really feel that the local people who scarified their land, homes and in some cases lives should be heard, could take the burden of this expenditure together and the sensitive people could come forward to bear this expenses. Those who wish to contribute for this venture can drop a cheque in favor of High power – Big Dreams at the address 29, Kaushik, Shreenagar, Sector-1, Thane – 400 604 along with their name and address or transfer the fund through net banking in A/c No 003120100013362 (High Power-Big Dreams) in Thane Janata Sahakari Bank’s Naupada, Thane branch (IFS Code-TJSB0000003) and inform us on e-mail [email protected]

 

 

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