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Environmental activists are being murdered at the highest rate in the world in Brazil. Three hundred sixty five activists were killed in Brazil from 2002 to 2011 according to a report by globalwitness.org. The Guarani, first people of land now coveted by cattle ranchers, have been under systematic attack by paramilitary groups funded by wealthy agribusiness owners intent on stealing Guarani land. World leaders meet and party at Rio+20 oblivious to the genocidal attacks on the Guarani who are the protectors of the land.

Social justice organizations are exerting pressure to stop the genocide in Brazil, with some success, but the global rate of killing continues to grow as the World bank continues to fund the expansion of multinational agribusiness corporations into impoverished countries.

In Brazil, the host country for the Rio summit, the Catholic Land Commission compiles a comprehensive annual report on land conflicts, which over the decade reveals the highest numbers of reported killings – 365 killed, more than half the global total.

In May 2012 the Catholic Land Commission reported that murders connected to land disputes fell from 34 in 2010 to 29 in 2011, despite an increase in conflicts. Reasons for the significantly high number will include the scale of investments in this large,
populous country, the conflicts arising from efforts to develop Brazil’s land and forests, and the fact that the country has some of the most unequal patterns of land ownership in the world with powerful landowners clashing with farmers and others for
control of lucrative farming and logging.

At the global level, it is well known that the main driver of demand for land is agribusiness, and global demand is increasing exponentially, with the World Bank reporting a fourfold increase in global large-scale farmland investments between 2001 and 2009 Africa has received the majority of such investment (62% of projects covering a total of 56.2m ha) followed by 17.1m ha in Asia and 7m ha in Latin America.

Global Killings of Environmental Activists Surged to 106 in 2011
Across the world, our research found 711 individuals reported killed in the past decade - an average of more than one killing per week. Of these, 106 people
were killed in 2011 – nearly twice the death toll in 2009. It includes those killed in targeted attacks and violent clashes as a result of protests, investigating or taking grievances against mining operations, logging operations, intensive agriculture including
ranching, tree plantations, hydropower dams, urban development and poaching.

The Guarani practice sustainable land management by the community, not private ownership.

The concept of property for the Guarani is very different than how it is understands in the involving society. The Guarani people do not consider them owner of the land, nor of that what lives on it. They understand that they received from God the right to use the land, and this should be done in a respectful and balanced way, without exploring, watched by God and the other Guarani.

Without being considered owners of the land, the Guarani respect the territorial domain of the families in each tekoha. They don't invade or take advantage of the resources of the families without permission.

In the Guarani economy, the principle of solidarity cannot be seen in a collective way of living, in that all work together and are owners of everything. What exists is a moral obligation of helping whenever the other needs it, of receiving help when you need and participating happily with the work of another Guarani whenever the other needs it. This reciprocal way of helping is called Jopói.

The generosity is one of the most important virtues in the Guarani society and a selfish person, which accumulates goods, for instance not sharing what he or she produces with the others, is criticized and marginalized.

The forests and streams that give us the air we breathe and the water we drink cannot be protected or saved without protecting the indigenous people living peacefully in the that healthy, intact environment.

There has been a huge land grab in impoverished nations over the past 5 years by multinational corporations at the expense of indigenous people. In particular, palm oil plantations have been devastating to  biodiversity, endangered species and indigenous people. Land grabs will be a source of future hunger. environmental degradation and violence against indigenous people.Oxfam PDF

In developing countries, as many as 227 million hectares of land – an area the size of Western Europe – has been sold or leased since 2001, mostly to international investors. The bulk of these land acquisitions has taken place over the past two years, according to on-going research by the Land Matrix Partnership.

The recent rise in land acquisitions can be explained by the 2007–08 food prices crisis, which led investors and governments to turn their attention towards agriculture after decades of neglect. But this interest in land is not something that will pass; it is a trend with strong drivers. The land deals are very often intended to produce for foreign food and biofuel markets. They can often rightly be called ‘land grabs’. This term refers to land acquisitions which do one or more of the following:

• Violate human rights, and particularly the equal rights of women;
• Flout the principle of free, prior, and informed consent of the affected
land users, particularly indigenous peoples;
• Ignore the impacts on social, economic, and gender relations, and
on the environment;
• Avoid transparent contracts with clear and binding commitments on
employment and benefit sharing;
• Eschew democratic planning, independent oversight, and
meaningful participation.

Originally posted to DK GreenRoots on Wed Jun 20, 2012 at 03:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks.

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