Showdown in Brazil
Once again our Sisters in Anapu are requesting prayers for a difficult and dangerous situation.
Last January, when the people blocked the trucks attempting to take illegally harvested wood from the forest, we stormed heaven and our prayers were answered. The Federal Government ruled that the road would be closed and guarded, and the wood on the blocked trucks was impounded. The people have continued the blockade, at great personal cost, waiting for the promised guard posts to be completed.
Saturday night, June 25, three people maintaining vigil at the blockade reported that a dump truck with 10 gunmen on motorcycles entered to get the wood that the Federal Police and the Environment Protection people had impounded last January. The logger who illegally had taken down those trees had sworn publically that he would get his wood back. He sent in his employees in the middle of the night to do just that, a major escalation of an already violent situation.
Despite this frightening experience the people are maintaining the blockade pending the completion of the guard posts. Their lives continue to be at risk. The Pastoral Land Commission and others who have been engaged for so long in the struggle to defend the forest believe this is a moment to call again upon the Federal Government to carry through on promises whose fullfillment has been long delayed, promises that go back as far as the time of Dorothy's death, promises made as recently as the Public Hearing on January 25, 2011. They are calling on the Federal Police, the Land Reform Institute at both local and federal levels, and the Federal Attorney's office in Belm. They and also involving the San Paulo press.
Our Sisters are asking your prayers for the safety of the couragous people of Anapu who continue the blockade. They are also asking our prayer support as the Pastoral Land Commission and others engage in strong advocacy for the implementation of the laws that protect the forest and the people who lawfully live within it. Let us respond with hearthfelt prayer.
Excerpt from a letter from our Sisters in Anapu. Your prayers showered us with the strength and depth of the Holy Spirit. We share with you today´s experience...
We arrived at the meeting place at 9 a.m. It was a long and tiresome meeting filled with lies and manipulation. There were many people brought in by the mayor and union president, both in favor of the loggers.
We had many people there. They were well prepared, organized and succinct. They spoke well, telling their stories and experiences, substantiating everything with names and data.
There were government officials of all types and a large number of police because the meeting was arranged to increase the violence and anger. The people representing the governmental entities perceived what was happening. Their decisions were made based on what was legal and beneficial for all. All of our requests were fulfilled. Not even the mayors lies and speech changed their minds.
We have much to to do and there will be recriminations and threats...but the results were unimaginable. Our people returned home, happy and at peace for awhile. But we must demand action right away. We want to hope and believe it is possible.
Thank you so much for your prayers and know that they certainly did make THE difference.
We have been living a nightmare here in Anapu.
The families in the Sustainable Development Project Esperança, faithful to the objectives of the project, closed the road to illegal loggers on January 10 of this year. (Since December 2009, loggers and their financial backers have been invading this forest reserve in waves.)
Many of the leaders and officials with whom Sr. Dorothy Stang worked and confided in have “turned.” These men now seek to destroy the Sustainable Development Project, plunder the rainforest for profit and get our priest and us out of Anapu.
But the people in Anapu are courageous. They are the heroes and heroines of this environmental and land struggle history. For more than 12 days they have left their homes and camped in the rain and sun on the roadside, blocking ONLY the passage of logging trucks. Two of our Sisters have been with them for several days and nights as well. At the moment our priest is there with the police searching out and finding loads and loads of illegal lumber.
Thankfully the press has been very favorable and transparent, telling the real story, but the decision is in the hands of the government and the federal Land Reform agency. We have two local land agency people who are wonderful. Unfortunately the corrupt politicians are working to remove everyone who gets in the way of their profit, including them and us!
The showdown comes Tuesday, January 25 at 11 a.m. our time (GMT-3). There will be a public audience here in Anapu to respond to the situation. These events are always loud, arbitrary and sometimes violent.
We ask that you remember us all in prayer these days and in the weeks to come.
We hold on to hope, as we have always done. Will this time be different? We want to believe so, but history tells us not to be naive. However we continue to dream of a different society and plan for our February 12 commemoration of Dorothy’s life here among us. We know that to dream is to begin to live the impossible...dream with us please.
Loggers try to remove impounded and illegally harvested wood.
Multiple gunshot depressions on a plaque in memory of the martyrs who died in the fight for forest preservation and land reform in the Amazon.
The devastation of the Amazon rainforest at the hands of the loggers and ranchers.