Rights of Nature Tribunal Judges in southeastern Pará, Brazil, scene of the largest rural massacres in the country
The International Rights of Nature Tribunal will tour the so-called Carajás Corridor, a mining and cattle ranching complex known for its high rates of deforestation, slave labor, land grabbing, and persecution of people fighting for land and forests.
To understand the territorial dynamics of one of the most violent and degraded areas of the Amazon and the country – the Carajás region, in southeastern Pará, Brazil – the judges of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal will tour several locations in the so-called Carajás Corridor, scene of the largest rural massacres in the country. In 2017, ten workers were murdered in Pau D’Arco. In Eldorado dos Carajás, in 1996, 19 landless rural workers were murdered.
Following the route between Marabá and Canaã dos Carajás, the judges will visit several locations that make up a complex mosaic of huge areas dedicated to mining and cattle raising, as well as large-scale meat and grain processing plants and a railroad to transport the iron and mineral trunks that divide the communities and never stop – where grabbing, deforestation, and land concentration is rampant. In contrast, peasant and indigenous resistance movements oppose this development model, occupying territories to defend their own lives and forests.
The Carajás Corridor connects Vale’s mine in Pará – the largest open-pit iron ore mine in the world – to the Port of São Luís, in Maranhão through a railroad that cuts like a razor through quilombos, settlements, and traditional communities. Along this route, the country’s most serious violations of the rights of rural and forest peoples have been taking place for four decades.
More than 300 wagons of Vale’s locomotives form the largest freight train in the world, with a length of 4 km, and transport production of 112 million tons of iron ore per year. The «Vale train» runs through territories exposing the raw material, which pollutes the air, animals, and people with mining dust. They also cause hearing impairment and environmental degradation, which has already made it impossible for entire communities – previously resettled as a result of Vale’s projects – to remain there.
REPORT AND VERDICT
The Tribunal’s delegation is composed of Blanca Chancosa, indigenous Otavalo (Ecuador); Cormac Cullinan, environmental lawyer (South Africa); as well as Maial Paiakan, indigenous Kayapó, Ailton Krenak, ombudsman for indigenous peoples, and Ana Carolina Alfinito, legal consultant (Brazil). Judge Tom Goldtooth, an indigenous man from Diné and Dakota (USA), will participate remotely in the production of the report. The committee is coordinated by Federal Public Ministry (MPF) attorney Felício Pontes, from Pará, who is also accompanying the visits, as well as Natalia Greene (Ecuador), secretariat of the Tribunal.
Last week, the Tribunal delegation visited Altamira, where they were able to talk to a number of community leaders affected by the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam and the Belo Sun mining project, embargoed by the Federal Court. The judges were also in Anapu, a violent region; since 2015, at least 21 rural workers have been killed in the context of the land struggle, and the region’s meager standing forest, protected by peasants and traditional communities, is getting smaller and smaller.
At the end of the visit – organized in partnership with the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) the Movement of Those Affected by Mining (MAM) and the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST), among other entities – the judges of the Tribunal will write a report to be released during the Pan-Amazon Social Forum (FOSPA) in Belém on July 28th. This will become a verdict that will be signed by other judges from around the world who make up the Judges’ Assembly of the International Rights of Nature Tribunal.
According to Natalia Greene, Tribunal Secretariat, the legal purpose of the verdict is to «influence judicial decisions and create model jurisprudence that can be used by justice bodies in the fight for rights.» The Tribunal issued an important verdict in 2019 on violations committed against indigenous populations in the Bolivian Amazon, in the Tipnis region. «By collecting testimonies and understanding what is happening, we raise the voice of the peoples, which is the voice of Nature,» she explains.