Biggest protests in 20 years sweep Brazil

By Todd Bensen and Asher Levine, June 18, 2013 Global Justice Ecology Project

As many as 200,000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Brazil’s biggest cities on Monday in a swelling wave of protest tapping into widespread anger at poor public services, police violence and government corruption.

The marches, organized mostly through snowballing social media campaigns, blocked streets and halted traffic in more than a half-dozen cities, including Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia, where demonstrators climbed onto the roof of Brazil’s Congress building and then stormed it.

Monday’s demonstrations were the latest in a flurry of protests in the past two weeks that have added to growing unease over Brazil’s sluggisheconomy, high inflation and a spurt in violent crime.

While most of the protests unfolded as a festive display of dissent, some demonstrators in Rio threw rocks at police, set fire to a parked car and vandalized the state assembly building. Vandals also destroyed property in the southern city of Porto Alegre.

Around the country, protesters waved Brazilian flags, dancing and chanting slogans such as “The people have awakened” and “Pardon the inconvenience, Brazil is changing.”

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Oil showdown in the Amazon

There is one area of the Ecuadorian Amazon that is so pristine that the whole ecosystem has been preserved and even jaguars roam free! But the government is now threatening to go in and drill for oil.

The local indigenous people have been resisting, but they are afraid that oil companies will break up the community with bribes. When they heard that people across the world might stand with them and make a stink to save their land, they were thrilled. The president of Ecuador claims to stand for indigenous rights and the environment, but he has just come up with a new plan to bring oil speculators in to 4 million hectares of jungle. If we can say ‘wait a minute, you’re supposed to be the green president who says no one can buy Ecuador’, we could expose him for turning his back on his commitments just as he is fighting for re-election.

He doesn’t want a PR nightmare right now. If we get a million of us to help this one community defend their ancestral land and challenge the president openly to keep to his word, we could start a media storm that would make him reconsider the whole plan. Sign the petition now and tell everyone — let’s help save this beautiful forest:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/oil_in_the_amazon_8/?bBFJsab&v=21318

After Texaco and other oil companies polluted Ecuadorian waters and irreversibly devastated precious ecosystems, Correa led his country to be the world’s first nation to recognize the rights of “Mother Earth” in its constitution. He announced Ecuador was not for sale, and in Yasuni National Park promoted an innovative initiative where other governments pay Ecuador to keep oil in the ground to protect the rainforest rather than destroy it. But now he’s on the verge of selling out.

Shockingly, the Sani Isla Kichwa land is partly in Yasuni National Park. But even more shocking is Correa’s bigger plan — in days government officials begin a world tour to offer foreign investors the right to drill across 4 million hectares of forest (an area larger than the Netherlands!) Ecuador, as any country, may argue it has the right to profit from its natural resources, but the constitution itself says it must respect indigenous rights and its amazing forests, which bring millions in tourist dollars every year.

Right now, Correa is in a tough fight to win a second term as president. It’s the perfect time to make him honour his environmental promises and make this green constitution come to life. Sign now to stand with the Kichwa people and save their forest:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/oil_in_the_amazon_8/?bBFJsab&v=21318

Our community has fought year after year to protect the Amazon in Brazil and Bolivia, and won many victories standing in solidarity with indigenous communities. Now it’s Ecuador’s turn — let’s respond to this urgent call for action and save their forest.

With hope and determination,

Alex, Pedro, Alice, Laura, Marie, Ricken, Taylor, Morgan and all the Avaaz team

More Information:

Ecuadorian tribe gets reprieve from oil intrusion (The Guardian)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jan/17/indigenous-ecuadorian-tribe-oil-intrusion

Ecuador adopts rights of nature in constitution (Rights of Nature)
http://therightsofnature.org/ecuador-rights/

How oil extraction impacts the rainforest (Amazon Watch)
http://amazonwatch.org/news/2013/0107-oil-extraction-how-oil-production-impacts-the-rainforest

Drilling for oil in Eden: initiative to save Amazon rainforest in Ecuador is uncertain (Scientific American)
http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2012/03/17/drilling-for-oil-in-eden-initiative-to-save-amazon-rainforest-in-ecuador-is-uncertain/

Ecuador’s indigenous leaders oppose new oil exploration plans in Amazon region (Earth Island Journal)
http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/elist/eListRead/ecuadors_indigenous_leaders_oppose_new_oil_exploration/