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Brazil on the edge: LAB Newsletter 24 October 2018

As Brazil heads to the second round of presidential elections, LAB's correspondents describe the febrile atmosphere and the fears of many.

24 October 2018 Dear LAB Supporter and Friend,

Brazil on the edge

Some women detest Bolsonaro ….
With all eyes on Sunday (28 October)’s second round of Brazil’s presidential elections, LAB has been trying to keep on top of the torrent of news and opinion sent to us. Jan Rocha, our regular São Paulo correspondent has done an extraordinary job. You can see her blog here, where you can find links to her latest posts: ‘Bolsonaro’s dirty tricks’, ‘Are Brazilians sleepwalking into disaster’ and ‘Brazil: as the dust settles, the picture is grim’, as well as all her earlier posts (more than 60 since January 2014). Sue Branford looked into the sophisticated techniques being used by Bolsonaro supporters to generate fake news and to attack PT candidate Fernando Haddad (Read more).
Youth artists from the AfroRaiz Collective, Rios de Encontro project.
In Brazil’s interior, Dan Baron Cohen has begun a new blog-diary for LAB. Dan lives in the afro-indigenous community of Cabelo Seco, in Marabá, Pará, at the confluence of the Amazon tributaries, the Itacaiunas and Tocantins rivers. He works with Rios de Encontro, an ‘eco-cultural’ project working in dance, music and other mediums with young people of the community. You can Dan’s first three posts here, which describe the deep fears of many that a Bolsonaro victory will bring back the violence and arbitrary killing of the dictatorship years. But he also finds Bolsonaro suppoters, even among families in the community. Dan hopes to add a new diary post monthly. Andreza de Souza Santos has written a thoughtful blog-post, ‘Amid the furore of Brazil’s 2018 elections: listening for the quiet voices’, a timely reminder that even in the times of greatest polarization, many do not speak out because of fear – of attack, of ostracism, of losing their jobs.

Whistle-blower beware

Oil pollution in Lago Agrio, November 2007. Photo: By Julien Gomba – CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia
LAB correspondent Linda Etchart has written a three part series of articles on the byzantine complexities of the Ecuador-Chevron law suits. What they demonstrate, above all, is the near impossibility of obtaining compensation from the world’s largest companies for their flagrant negligence in polluting the environment. More than 25 years after the worst pollution incidents, despite some derisory and largely ineffectual ‘remediation work’, not a penny has been paid to the indigenous and other communities in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador’s Amazon whose land and water supplies were (and remain) extensively contaminated by the criminally careless oil extraction methods of Texaco (now part of Chevron). Read more: 1. Lago Agrio – Ecuador’s Chernobyl; 2. The Ecuadorian government: friend or foe? ;          3. When in doubt, sue the lawyer

LAB News

We plan to publish two major books in the next three months. Amazon Besieged – by dams, soya, agribusiness and land-grabbing by Mauricio Torres and Sue Branford tells the story of the assault on the Tapajós basin and its tributary river, the Teles Pires, as Brazil’s vast soya megafarms in Mato Grosso and Pará attempt to create road, rail and river highways to ship their product to the sea, and logging and land-grabbing continue under the umbrella of this ‘development’. The book will be launched at the annual Latin America Adelante conference at TUC Congress House in London, on 1 December. Voices of Latin America – ed. Tom Gatehouse is the culmination of almost three year’s of LAB work, collecting interviews and testimony from over 70 social movement leaders and activists in 14  countries across the region. Details of the book and its launch, in mid-January 2019, will be announced here. Looking ahead to 2020, we are already starting work on Overburden: community resistance to mining in Latin America. Matt Kennard will be working full-time on the project in the coming months and our partners now include War on Want, Christian Aid, London Mining Network, OCMAL (Chile) and MiningWatch Canada. Best wishes, The LAB Team  

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