June 16 - A sixth rural worker is murdered in the Amazon in less than a month, raising concerns over land conflicts. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
Funeral services for an Amazon activist in Brazil. Six Environmental activists and workers have been killed in less than a month in the Amazon, in a wave of violence that has put the spotlight on violent conflicts over land and logging. In Brazil's northern countryside, the poor compete with big farmers, cattle ranchers and illegal loggers over natural resources -- and most disputes are often settled with guns. Carmen Helena is with Brazil's rural workers confederation. SOUNDBITE: CONTAG's Secretary of Women's Affairs, saying (Portuguese): "Money is scarce, the roads are scarce. We hear stories that two months after a certain worker was murdered, there is still no means to drive through the roads they have to recover the bodies. So this is absurd and this is what we hear from the members of our workers' union. This should be a priority and I think the Brazilian government must include in its political agenda the necessity of carrying out a land reform." The crime surge prompted President Dilma Rousseff to hold an emergency meeting with local authorities and order hundreds of Army officials to be deployed in the region. But activists say the situation won't change its the policies stay the same. SOUNDBITE: Greenpeace Campaigns Director Sergio Leitao, saying (Portuguese): "Unfortunately the government is not taking the appropriate measures. On the contrary, it ends up sending signals through actions and policies that stimulate these crimes in the Amazon, because instead of punishing those responsible for the murders and for deforestation, the government recognizes land grabbing. In 2008 the government legally recognized the invasion of 66 million hectares (163 million). Sixty-six million hectares is equivalent to the size of two European countries -- France and Germany." Brazil's Congress just passed a controversial land bill, which grants partial amnesty to farmers who have illegally cleared land for decades. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters