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Sue Branfords' Amazon Journey 2012

Part 6: Fordlândia

Published on: Mon Oct 29, 2012
Author: Sue Branford
Part 6: Fordlândia

 It's my last weekend in Brazil, so we decide to travel by boat to one of the places that Maurício and I have both wanted to visit for a long time – Fordlândia, the extraordinary project set up by Henry Ford in the late 1920s to demonstrate to Brazilians how rubber should be produced! No more relying on rubber trees randomly distributed in the forest, but a proper plantation with the trees in straight lines! Maurício, a friend of his and I take an Amazon boat – the Leão – in the late afternoon from…

Part 5: Altamira, Belo Monte, Anapu - colonos and loggers

Published on: Thu Oct 25, 2012
Author: Sue Branford
Part 5:  Altamira, Belo Monte, Anapu - colonos and loggers

 From Uruará we continued eastwards along the Transamazônica highway to the town of Altamira, which, because of the proximity of the construction work for the gigantic Belo Monte hydroelectric power station, is expanding at a momentous rate. Infrastructure is lagging badly behind, despite an earlier commitment from Norte Energia, the consortium building the dam, to invest heavily in this area. There is no running water in most of the town, and many of the streets have open sewers (which I know to…

Part 4: The Sister Dorothy Sustainable Development Project

Published on: Fri Oct 19, 2012
Author: Sue Branford
Part 4: The Sister Dorothy Sustainable Development Project

Still in the Rio Trairão settlement, the colonos, knowing that we’re interested in witnessing first-hand the damage that illegal logging is doing to the forest, take us, again by motorbike, to the Sister Dorothy Sustainable Development Project (PDS), named after the American religious sister murdered in 2005 for her opposition to abuses by landowners and loggers. It’s near the colonos' settlement, but isn’t part of the land they want to annex to turn into a forest reserve where they can collect forest…

Part 3: Uruará

Published on: Mon Oct 15, 2012
Author: Sue Branford
Part 3: Uruará

We reach Uruará, a town of some 50,000 inhabitants on the Transamazônica highway. It is a typical frontier town, with no running water, no sewerage, no Internet, no airport (apart from some small, clandestine landing strips, some of which are said to be used for drug trafficking), not even a bus station. Its hospital is understaffed and poorly equipped, with people sleeping in hammocks overnight on its veranda, just in order to make an appointment to see a doctor in a month’s time.  What Uruará does…

Part 2: Santarém

Published on: Sat Oct 13, 2012
Author: Sue Branford
Part 2: Santarém

After a few delays, I’ve reached Santarém, a sleepy river-port located precisely where the green water of the Tapajós river flows in to the red, muddier water of the Amazon. It’s great to be back to the slower pace of the Amazon basin, to sit by the river as the tropical dusk falls rapidly, while old-style river-steamers load cargo and people, ready to travel in the cool of the night. I was last in Santarém five years ago. There was much talk then of the big new soya terminal that Cargill had opened…

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