From here in Xapuri, we remind the world that Chico Mendes did not die. He was assassinated. This was the price he paid for dedicating his life to the cause of agrarian land reform and the protection of forests. The fact is that those in power never accepted that the peoples of the forest have a right to land, bread and dreams. They thought that murdering him would bury his struggle. But for that it was too late. Chico Mendes had become a force that surpasses his physical existence.
Since his assassination, his legacy has grown in importance. Conscious of the importance of this legacy and fearful of its liberating power, those in power threw themselves at the task of appropriating his legacy through a continuous and systematic process of distortion. This is what the government of the so-called “Popular Front of Acre” (FPA) has done over the course of the last 20 years. Serving the interests of international capital, they imposed, using and abusing the image of Chico Mendes, a set of policies which resulted in an increase in privatisation and the destruction of forests.
From the extraction of timber, to the exploration of petrol and gas in the Vale do Juruá region of Acre and extensive cattle raising, they opened the door for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation – REDD projects and other Payment for Environmental Services – PSA initiatives. These policies represent, in all aspects, a full negation of what the rubber tapper leader defended, consider that they privatize the forest, violate the rights of the peoples of the forest and treat them like criminals. In this process, Chico Mendes was disfigured and, in a certain sense, killed several times over as he was turned into a defender of the very capitalism that killed him, turning him into the opposite of what he was.
Lamentably, what we see today in Acre is the attempt to transform into goods the land and territories which are sacred for the original peoples and which furthermore, are the source of subsistence for all inhabitants of the forest. Against this backdrop, we have seen criminalization grow in our midst over the past years, criminalization of ancestral practises of communities as well as any form of resistance to the capitalist appropriation of nature.
True to Chico Mendes' legacy of struggles, we denounce these murderous projects and those who defend them. Based on our painful experiences, we affirm to the world that proposals like "sustainable development" and "green economy" are a mere farce ad tragedy. They are a farce because they do not protect nature as they claim. They are a tragedy because they do exactly the opposite. And we know the reason. There is no way out in capitalism, in any of its forms and colors. One cannot take care of life with a system that kills.
We denounce this farce and demand: the immediate suspension of all commercial logging projects and all environmental and climate compensation policies that have been grown out of the false solutions of green capitalism; the demarcation of all territories of indigenous peoples and an agrarian reform rooted in popular sovereignty.
For the Amazon, for agrarian reform, for the demarcation of indigenous peoples' territories; against green capitalism and capitalism in any other color, whether it's pushed forward by so-called leftist or admittedly fascist governments!
Chico Mendes lives. The struggle continues.
Xapuri, December 16th, 2018.
Sign this statement:
• Grupo de Pesquisa Trabalho, Território e Política na Amazônia (TRATEPAM)
• Núcleo de Pesquisa Estado, Sociedade e Desenvolvimento na Amazônia
• Grupo de Pesquisa e Extensão em Educação Ambiental e desenvolvimento
• Movimento Mundial pelas Florestas Tropicais (WRM)
• Organização dos Povos Indígenas Apurinã e Jamamadi de Boca do Acre e
• Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores de Rondônia (MPA)
• Via Campesina
• Amigos da Terra – Brasil
• Centro Acadêmico de Ciências Sociais da Ufac (CACS)
• Movimento Esquerda Socialista – PSOL
• Coletivo Juntos – Acre
• Federação do Povo Huni Kui do Acre (FEPAHC)
• Fórum de Mudanças Climáticas
• Equipe Itinerante • Centro Shuar Kupiamais (Equador)
• Conselho Indigenista Missionário (CIMI)