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Brazil police deployed to contain land feud
by Staff Writers
Brasilia (AFP) June 5, 2013

Amazon deforestation reduced by nearly 84%: Brazil
Brasilia (AFP) June 5, 2013 - Brazil said Wednesday it has reduced Amazon deforestation by nearly 84 percent over the past eight years and is nearing its international target for slowing devastation of the world's largest rainforest.

From August 2011 to July 2012, 4,571 square kilometers (1,764 square miles) of Amazon forest were destroyed, 27 percent less than during the previous corresponding period and the lowest rate since Brazil began monitoring, said Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira.

It was the fourth consecutive annual reduction.

Teixeira said the country "reached 76 percent of its voluntary deforestation reduction goal in the Amazon as agreed in Copenhagen in 2009," referring to an international conference on climate change held that year.

That goal set the deforestation ceiling at 3,900 square kilometers (1,505 square miles) in 2020.

According to official but still provisional data, deforestation totaled 1,900 square kilometers between August 2012 and April 2013.

Key causes of the destruction include fires, the expansion of agriculture and livestock, and illegal trafficking in timber and minerals.

A crack police unit was deployed in the central Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul Wednesday to contain a land feud between indigenous residents and white farmers that left one person dead.

The federal government ordered the 110-strong contingent of the National Force, a special police unit, to head to Sidrolandia, where indigenous Terena are occupying a white-owned farm to demand the return of their ancestral lands.

Justice Minister Jose Eduardo Cardozo traveled to the scene Wednesday, saying: "We are here to ensure public order and avert conflict."

"We are going to start a dialogue to prevent further deaths," he added, according to a ministry statement.

Last Friday, an indigenous Terena died during a police operation ordered to expel 1,000 natives who occupied a local farm.

Another was shot and wounded, according to native chief Lindomar Terena.

The violence is linked to a spate of land disputes in the vast country where one percent of the population controls 46 percent of the cultivated land.

"Farmers have armed men and one of those gunmen shot our companion," the Terena chief said.

Luiz Eloy, a lawyer for the native protesters, said authorities rescinded the expulsion order and that he welcomed the dispatch of the National Force.

President Dilma Rousseff insisted her government would respect any decision made by the judicial authorities and that she favored negotiations "to prevent conflicts, deaths and injuries."

Her government is also faced with recurring protests by indigenous communities affected by construction of the huge Belo Monte dam in the Amazon.

Belo Monte, which is being built at a cost of $13 billion, is expected to flood an area of 500 square kilometers (200 square miles) along the Xingu River, displacing 16,000 people, according to the government.

Some NGOs have estimated that some 40,000 people would be displaced by the massive project.

The dam, expected to produce 11,000 megawatts of electricity, would be the third-biggest in the world, after China's Three Gorges facility and Brazil's Itaipu dam in the south.

Indigenous groups say the dam will harm their way of life while environmentalists warn of deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and irreparable damage to the ecosystem.

Indigenous peoples represent less than one percent of Brazil's 194 million people and occupy 12 percent of the national territory, mainly in the Amazon.


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