5.27.2009

BRAZIL: Murder, Death Threats Amid Environmental Protests

·Environmentalists and human rights activists in Brazil are demanding clarification of the murder of Paulo Santos Souza, a fisherman and trade unionist who was fighting irregularities in the construction of a gas pipeline for Petrobras.
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The Associação dos Homens do Mar (AHOMAR – the fishermen’s union) for which Santos Souza was the treasurer, and other unions and civil society groups have called for a demonstration Wednesday in front of the headquarters of the state oil firm Petrobras, in Rio de Janeiro.
They are also demanding the interruption of work on a natural gas pipeline being laid some 60 kilometres from Rio de Janeiro, following reports of environmental permit irregularities and damages caused to flora and fauna in the mangrove swamps of Guanabara Bay.
The gas pipeline is part of the Liquefied Gas and Oil Project (GLP) carried out in the framework of the Accelerated Growth Programme (PAC) embarked on by the government of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
Construction of the future Petrobras Petrochemical Complex (COMPERJ) is in the hands of a consortium, GLP Submarino, made up of the Oceânica Engenharia and GDK S.A. companies.
The head of AHOMAR, Alexandre Anderson, said that the engineering works, which began in late March, have particularly harmed fishing, which has declined by 70 percent since that time.
Although the union will not say outright that the two are connected, it says it is a remarkable coincidence that its treasurer was killed on May 22, the same day that the Environment Secretary of the municipality of Magé blocked the work on the gas pipeline because it lacks the necessary environmental permit.
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