SAO PAULO — Violent disputes over indigenous land are on the uptick in Brazil, sparking heightened militancy by natives angered by broken promises of compensation and slower government registrations.
A report by the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), cited by the Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper on Sunday, said the number of territorial conflicts jumped from 82 in 2006 to 99 last year.
Indigenous peoples are fighting to protect their resource-rich lands from invasions or encroachment by huge cattle ranchers, industrial-scale farmers, illegal gold miners and loggers.
In this huge country, just one percent of the 191-million-strong population controls almost half the cultivated land.
Problems facing the indigenous population include murders, death threats, lack of health care and education, and delays in registering land ownership, according to the CIMI report.
CIMI, created in 1972 by Brazil’s National Confederation of Roman Catholic Bishops, reported an average of 55 murders of native people per year across the country between 2003 and 2011.
Tension is particularly high in the country’s northern Amazon region, where the federal government is building the huge Belo Monte hydro-electrical dam across the Xingu River.
Angry indigenous activists frequently occupy the construction sites and occasionally take employees hostage to protest what they view as broken promises of compensation.
CIMI also highlighted a drop in indigenous land registrations by the government, from 145 under president Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2002), down to 79 under president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), and only three last year under President Dilma Rousseff.
In remarks to Folha de Sao Paulo, Rinaldo Arruda, an anthropology professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Sao Paulo (PUC-SP), noted a “conservative shift” by the Rousseff government as it dealt with the powerful pro-agribusiness bloc in Congress.
Activists, including members of the Xicrin, Juruna, Arara, Aweti, Assurini and Parakanawa tribes, are threatening fresh occupations of sites of the public consortium Norte Energia, which is in charge of the Belo Monte project.
Norte Energia insists it will honor signed compensation accords but indigenous chief Giliard Juruna told Folha de Sao Paulo: “We don’t believe what they are saying.”
The third largest dam in the world, the 11,200-megawatt Belo Monte is one of several hydro projects meant to provide Brazil with clean energy for its fast-growing economy.
Indigenous groups fear the dam will harm their way of life, while environmentalists have warned of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and irreparable damage to the ecosystem.
The federal government plans to invest a total of $1.2 billion to assist the displaced by the time the dam is completed in 2019.
When it comes to the economy, too many Americans continue to be numbed by the soothing sounds of conservative spin in the media. Here are three of their more inventive claims:
The richest 10% of Americans own over 80% of the stock market.
1. Higher taxes on the rich will hurt small businesses and discourage job creators
A recent Treasury analysis found that only 2.5% of small businesses would face higher taxes from the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.
As for job creation, it’s not coming from the people with money. Over 90% of the assets owned by millionaires are held in a combination of low-risk investments (bonds and cash), the stock market, real estate, and personal business accounts. Angel investing (capital provided by affluent individuals for business start-ups) accounted for less than 1% of the investable assets of high net worth individuals in North America in 2011. The Mendelsohn Affluent Survey agreed that the very rich spend less than two percent of their money on new business startups.
The Wall Street Journal noted, in way of confirmation, that the extra wealth created by the Bush tax cuts led to the “worst track record for jobs in recorded history.”
2. Individual initiative is all you need for success.
President Obama was criticized for a speech which included these words: “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own…when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”
‘Together’ is the word that winner-take-all conservatives seem to forget. Even the richest and arguably most successful American, Bill Gates, owes most of his good fortune to the thousands of software and hardware designers who shaped the technological industry over a half-century or more. A careful analysis of his rise shows that he had luck, networking skills, and a timely sense of opportunism, even to the point of taking the work of competitors and adapting it as his own.
Gates was preceded by numerous illustrious Americans who are considered individual innovators when in fact they used their skills to build upon the work of others. On the day that Alexander Graham Bell filed for a patent for his telephone, electrical engineer Elisha Gray was filing an intent to patent a similar device. Both had built upon the work of Antonio Meucci, who didn’t have the fee to file for a patent. Thomas Edison’s incandescent light bulb was the culmination of almost 40 years of work by other fellow light bulb developers. Samuel Morse, Eli Whitney, the Wright brothers, and even Thomas Edison had, as eloquently stated byJared Diamond, “capable predecessors…and made their improvements at a time when society was capable of using their product.”
If anything, it’s harder than ever today to ascend through the ranks on one’s own. As summarized in the Pew research report ”Pursuing the American Dream,” only 4% of those starting out in the bottom quintile make it to the top quintile as adults, “confirming that the ‘rags-to-riches’ story is more often found in Hollywood than in reality.”
3. A booming stock market is good for all of us
The news reports would have us believe that happy days are here again when the stock market goes up. But as the market rises, most Americans are getting a smaller slice of the pie.
In a recent Newsweek article, author Daniel Gross gushed that “The stock market has doubled since March 2009, while corporate profits and exports have surged to records.”
But the richest 10% of Americans own over 80% of the stock market. What Mr. Gross referred to as the “democratization of the stock market” is actually, as demonstrated by economist Edward Wolff, a distribution of financial wealth among just the richest 5% of Americans, those earning an average of $500,000 per year.
Thanks in good part to a meager 15% capital gains tax, the richest 400 taxpayers DOUBLED their income and nearly HALVED their tax rates in just seven years (2001-2007). So dramatic is the effect that anyone making more than $34,500 a year in salary and wages is taxed at ahigher rate than an individual with millions in capital gains.
There’s yet more to the madness. The stock market has grown much faster than the GDP over the past century, which means that this special tax rate is being given to people who already own most of the unearned income that keeps expanding faster than the productiveness of real workers.
And one fading illusion: People in the highest class are people of high class.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1ST 5:30PM from Memorial Site on Anna Drive
We must keep marching, we must keep protesting, we must get the truth out about what happened to Manuel Diaz and the truth out about the disrespect and brutality we face every day from the Anaheim police – if we don’t, we will not win justice for Manuel.
On Saturday evening July 21st, after Manuel Diaz had already been gunned down in cold blood, the Anaheim police proceeded to attack a crowd of mostly young women and their children simply for speaking out and standing up to the police for killing Manuel. Speaking the truth about racism cannot result in being assaulted and brutalized by the police. Watch the videos – there was no “riot” against the police on Saturday evening. And does anyone really believe the police dog escaped from the police car “accidentally”?
The cops attacked that crowd with rubber bullets and dogs because they wanted to make clear to everyone that fighting back against racism in Anaheim is a crime. Like the Civil Rights Movement lead by Dr Martin Luther King, our community must stand up and organize mass militant action to stop the dogs, rubber bullets and police executions of unarmed youth from ever occurring again. We deserve dignity, equality and respect. We do not need to be treated as inferior second class citizens to have some meager economic stability and hope for our children’s future.
Only the independent, mass mobilization of Anaheim’s and Orange County’s Latina/o, black and progressive anti-racist communities can possibly win justice for Manuel Diaz. The community’s response to Manuel’s murder has already set this struggle apart from all the other police shootings that have happened in Anaheim this year. If we are to win real justice for Manuel and get these cops sent to jail then we must keep marching, protesting, chanting and fighting.
We can’t rely on the politicians or the District Attorney to do a real investigation of the shooting. We must not listen to those that tell us to “cool off”, “wait until the DAs investigation is done” or “have faith in the system to find out the truth” – only by building an independent movement for justice can we ensure that the truth comes out, that the cops are charged with murder and that our communities can be safe from further police violence against us.
— UPDATE, AND MARCH TO CITY HALL WEDNESDAY, AUG. 1ST — The Anaheim police have been stopping and harassing many witnesses and other young people from the Anna Drive neighborhood to try to scare everyone and to try to stop the marches and the protests.
How do we back off the police and press our movement forward? We mobilize bigger, louder and stronger.
Our united strength has the power to win justice for Manuel and put an end to police terror against our communities. Join the MARCH on Wednesday!
*Justice for Manuel Diaz! *Jail the Killer Cops! *A Badge Is Not a License to Kill!
*Stop Racist Police Brutality against Anaheim’s Latina/o Black and Immigrant Communities!
*Speaking the Plain Truth Against Racism is NOT a Crime. Self Defense is No Offense! End the New Jim Crow!
*Our Mothers, Younger Brothers and Sisters and Communities’ Demands for Justice and the Truth Must Never Again Be Answered with Rubber Bullets and Police Dogs. Get Rid of the Dogs and Rubber Bullets Now!
*Stop the Police Cover Up. We Can Not Rely on the Attorney General or Any Other Government Official to Win Justice for Manuel Diaz or to Jail the Killer Cops!
*We Must Organize an Independent Public Tribunal to Investigate Manuel’s Murder and Get the Truth Out about Racism and Police Brutality in Anaheim!
*Fire Anaheim Police Chief John Welter!
*Build the New Mass, Integrated, Independent, Youth-Led Civil Rights Movement!
*Join BAMN! The Latina/o, Black, Immigrant and Oppressed Communities of All Races Have the Power to Restore Hope and Win Dignity, Equality, Respect and Prosperity for All.
The June 22 coup carried out against Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo was an important blow to progressive movements across Latin America. The struggle against the coup is far from over, but learning the lessons of it are important. This requires placing the coup in the context of the turbulent process of change occurring in Latin America
Latin America is in a period of transition. It is characterised, on the one hand, by the decline of the United States’ influence. This is particularly the case with the unravelling of the neoliberal model implanted that was more firmly implanted more firmly in Latin America in the 1980s and 1990s than in any other region of the South.
On the other hand, left and progressive forces have made significant advances, including winning government in some cases. This has been accompanied by a growing process of political and economic integration of the region.
From whatever angle you approach it, the present offers no way out. This is not the least of its virtues. From those who seek hope above all, it tears away every firm ground. Those who claim to have solutions are contradicted almost immediately. Everyone agrees that things can only get worse. “The future has no future” is the wisdom of an age that, for all its appearance of perfect normalcy, has reached the level of consciousness of the first punks.
The sphere of political representation has come to a close. From left to right, it’s the same nothingness striking the pose of an emperor or a savior, the same sales assistants adjusting their discourse according to the findings of the latest surveys. Those who still vote seem to have no other intention than to desecrate the ballot box by voting as a pure act of protest. We’re beginning to suspect that it’s only against voting itself that people continue to vote. Nothing we’re being shown is adequate to the situation, not by far. In its very silence, the populace seems infinitely more mature than all these puppets bickering amongst themselves about how to govern it. The ramblings of any Belleville chibani contain more wisdom than all the declarations of our so-called leaders. The lid on the social kettle is shut triple-tight, and the pressure inside continues to build. From out of Argentina, the specter of Que Se Vayan Todos is beginning to seriously haunt the ruling class.
The flames of November 2005 still flicker in everyone’s minds. Those first joyous fires were the baptism of a decade full of promise. The media fable of “banlieue vs. the Republic” may work, but what it gains in effectiveness it loses in truth. Fires were lit in the city centers, but this news was methodically suppressed. Whole streets in Barcelona burned in solidarity, but no one knew about it apart from the people living there. And it’s not even true that the country has stopped burning. Many different profiles can be found among the arrested, with little that unites them besides a hatred for existing society – not class, race, or even neighborhood. What was new wasn’t the “banlieue revolt,” since that was already going on in the 80s, but the break with its established forms. These assailants no longer listen to anybody, neither to their Big Brothers and Big Sisters, nor to the community organizations charged with overseeing the return to normal. No “SOS Racism” could sink its cancerous roots into this event, whose apparent conclusion can be credited only to fatigue, falsification and the media omertà. This whole series of nocturnal vandalisms and anonymous attacks, this wordless destruction, has widened the breach between politics and the political. No one can honestly deny the obvious: this was an assault that made no demands, a threat without a message, and it had nothing to do with “politics.” One would have to be oblivious to the autonomous youth movements of the last 30 years not to see the purely political character of this resolute negation of politics. Like lost children we trashed the prized trinkets of a society that deserves no more respect than the monuments of Paris at the end of the Bloody Week- and knows it.
Last weekend, news cameras zoomed in on a theater in Aurora, where many moviegoers were shot down, apparently by a gunman trying to act out a crazed fantasy. While the mass killing reignited a nationwide debate on gun control, a different, but similar, tragedy unfolded not too far away in Anaheim, California. The difference was that this time, the cops did the shooting. And while the victims of the violent outbreak were also ordinary community members, unlike the Aurora residents, they had placed themselves in the line of fire by confronting a police force that works above the law.
It started when police shot an unarmed man while chasing him down an alley. The circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear, but we know the young man’s name: Manuel Angel Diaz, 25, pronounced dead that night at a local hospital.
Police had profiled Diaz as a “documented gang member” and said they approached what seemed like a suspicious gathering of three men near a car. The OC Register reports:
The dead man’s sister, Lupe Diaz, said Sunday that her brother was “just hanging out with friends” before the shooting.
“There is no explanation,” Diaz said. “It’s not fair.”
Even more inexplicable is the clash that ensued afterwards. Community members gathered at the site and confronted police in protest–an action characterized by local press as “near rioting.” The scene, caught on video, shows a gathering of residents, including women and children, being threatened and shot with crowd-control bean bags and pepper spray. At one point, a dog attacks the crowd. A man shows glaring welts in his back. A mother sobs while recounting the animal racing at her and other bystanders.
On Saturday, as demonstrators gathered at the scene of the shooting, Anaheim officers fired bean bags and pepper spray into a crowd of protestors. Welter said Sunday the move was in response to “some known gang members” who had begun throwing bottles and rocks at officers.
Also, Welter said a K-9 police dog accidentally escaped from an officer’s vehicle and rushed into the crowd, biting demonstrators in an attack caught on video.
At least one person received medical treatment; it was unclear if anyone else was injured, the chief said Sunday.
“Officers in this situation can’t retreat,” Welter said, defending the officers’ decision to fire at the demonstrators. “If we would have abandoned the scene, we would not be doing our job.”
Now the next job for the police is to ensure that this is presented in the media as a matter of public safety and self-defense for the officers. They’ve arrested several people already, including more “documented gang members” (another interesting application of the ”documented” designation) and one person accused of “the forceful taking of an individual from the custody of an officer.”
The community viewed the Anaheim police’s “duty” from a different angle. The sight of a dog set upon a panicked crowd evokes grim memories of the canines deployed to suppress civil rights protesters in Birmingham under Bull Connor’s reign. (The bad optics weren’t lost on the police department, either: According to the Register, they expressed regret that the dog had “escaped” and promised that “The city will be responsible for all medical bills associated with the dog.”)
The criminalization of the crowd’s resistance contrasts with the paradox captured on video: in Anaheim, as in other communities where immigrants and people of color live under a heavy law enforcement presence, the police themselves can seem like a worse public threat than the crime they’re supposed to be policing. These scenes play out on seemingly endless loop in Oakland, Maricopa County, New York City, New Orleans… every block in the country where kids take a mortal risk just by stepping out on the sidewalk.
In the aftermath, a girl who came forward as Diaz’s niece explained to the Register why her uncle might have run:
Daisy Gonzalez, 16, identified her uncle as the man shot by police. She and others said his name was Manuel Diaz. She said he likely ran away from officers when they approached him because of his past experience with law enforcement.
“He (doesn’t) like cops. He never liked them because all they do is harass and arrest anyone,” Gonzalez said after lighting a candle for her uncle.
She cursed at the police who were nearby and a police helicopter that hovered above, flashing a spotlight on the neighborhood.
Protesters marched from the scene of the killing to the police headquarters on Sunday. Sunday protests have become a regular ritual for the community over the past two years, in response to other fatal shootings by the Anaheim police. Doug Kauffman, a local organizer with the Campaign to Stop Police Violence, told the Register, “I think when you see a community act up like that and lose their fear of police, it’s a clear sign that they are angry over an injustice.”
The paper also quoted nineteen year-old Elizabeth Aguilar, who displayed a scar on her arm from a projectile shot by police and said, ‘”I used to look up to the police when I was a kid… But now I have no respect.”
This would not be the last Sunday of fear and frustration. Before the community even had time to calm down, there was news of another man shot and killed by the cops on Sunday. Smoldering trash bins in the street foreshadowed more resentment simmering below the surface.
While the current conversation around mass gun violence sheds much-needed light on the lethal consequences of our trigger-happy popular culture, violence committed by the state, often under the guise of protecting public safety, is a parallel threat that often goes unquestioned. The brutal impunity that reigns in Anaheim shows that the state’s monopoly on violence is woven into the social fabric, and the cycle of coercion and destruction is greased by the engines of the criminal justice system.
When community members face police brutality merely for protesting an unjust shooting, channels for effective civic action, and for brokering peace, rapidly narrow. The clashes in Anaheim lacked the cinematic spectacle of the Aurora shooting, but they too involved innocent people caught in a senseless crossfire. Many in America may not yet see the connection between these two scenes, but it’s coming to a community near you.