Photo: Greenpeace in Brazil
The environmental organization Greenpeace blocked a freighter from being loaded with iron in the port of Sao Luis in the northern Brazilian state of Maranhao in protest against the partial veto by President Dilma Rousseff of a widely criticized land-use bill.
A group of 14 Greenpeace activists sailed into the port on their ship, the Rainbow Warrior, and several climbed onto a crane that was about to load a cargo of pig iron, the raw material of iron and steel, on the freighter Clipper Hope, property of the Viena iron and steel works, the NGO said in a communique.
A studio released by Greenpeace two weeks ago said that some Brazilian iron and steel works contribute to the deforestation of the Amazon jungle by the intensive use they make of charcoal produced from timber taken illegally from the forest.
“The Amazon jungle is turning into charcoal. Brazil, turn off the chain saw,” said a giant banner tied to the crane, according to a photo distributed by the NGO.
The director of the Greenpeace Amazon campaign, Paulo Adario, said that the demonstration was also a protest againt Rousseff’s “omission” in not vetoing the Forest Code in its entirety as they had asked.
Rousseff announced this Friday a partial veto of 12 of the 84 articles of the controversial bill that regulates how land is to be used on rural properties.
One of the vetos annulled the article providing amnesty for people who contributed to deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon region in recent decades in order to expand farming activities.
The head of state also blocked a provision that would reduce the size of forested buffer zones around rivers from 30 meters (100 feet) on either side to 15 meters (50 feet).
Environmental groups sought the annulment of the entire bill which, they said, will provide a legal opening for unchecked deforestation.
In any case, Congress can override the president’s vetoes.
Greenpeace blocked the Clipper Hope in the port of Sao Luis for the first time on May 14 and continued the blockade until last Thursday while awaiting a conciliatory meeting with local authorities, whose results, however, failed to satisfy the environmentalists.
The deputy governor of Maranhao state, Washington Luiz, went to the port Saturday to negotiate an end to the blockade of the freighter, the NGO said.