Brazilian Indigenous Leaders Denounce the Role of French Financiers in Amazon Destruction
In Paris, Brazilian Indigenous Leaders Denounce the Role of French Financiers in Amazon Destruction
Tuesday 12th November 2019, Paris (FRANCE) – Eight Brazilian indigenous leaders led a spirited protest along with 100 supporters in a Parisian financial center today, targeting the key role of French investors behind mounting human rights and environmental destruction in the Amazon. France hosts several leading financial institutions - such as BNP Paribas and Société Générale - responsible for bankrolling deforestation in the Amazon and Cerrado biomes with billions of euros in loans and underwriting to corporations that deal directly in forest risk commodities such as soy and beef.
See images of the protest here
Leaders from the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB) are on an intense advocacy tour across Europe denouncing an exacerbating human rights crisis faced by the country’s indigenous communities and territories under the Bolsonaro’s government. Entitled Indigenous Blood: Not a Single Drop More, the delegation calls on European political authorities and business leaders to respond to growing violence and environmental devastation in the Amazon and across Brazil. On November 1st, an indigenous Forest Guardian, Paulo Paulino Guajajara, was shot dead after illegal loggers ambushed him on his Amazonian territory, in yet another emblematic case of brutality against Brazilian environmental and human rights defenders.
“Many European companies are exploiting the Amazon directly in our territories,” said Sonia Guajajara, a member of the APIB delegation. “Today we are already feeling the effect of this unrestrained exploitation, and it won’t take long for it to also reach you here, in France. European corporations must be conscious of their responsibility. Everything is at stake: the rainforest, the climate, and our survival. It is very important to act quickly while there is still time!”
Last April, data from an APIB report, produced in partnership with Amazon Watch showed how European and US companies, including banks and soy traders, enable today’s crisis in the Amazon region. The research analyzed Brazilian companies fined for environmental crimes in the Amazon since 2017 and identified linkages between these and northern countries’ commercial interests. Recent events, such as the Amazon fires, increasingly show how local and global corporate interests are driving deforestation, exacerbating land conflicts, and spurring violence.
“Big banks and large investment firms in particular play a critical role, providing billions of euros in lending, underwriting, and equity investment to soy and cattle companies,” said Christian Poirier, Amazon Watch Program Director, who joined the protest in Paris. “This financing enables agribusiness to maintain and expand operations, causing further devastation to the Amazon and Cerrado. BNP Paribas has over US$3 billion invested across the world’s four largest soy traders, as well as other investments in Brazilian meat-packers.”
Cattle ranching and soy production are the leading drivers of deforestation in Brazil. Ranching alone leads to approximately 80% of Amazon deforestation, and 80% of the Amazon forests cleared since 2014 are currently occupied by cattle. The economic and environmental implications of these commodities extend to the global market: Brazilian soy accounted for 14.3% of the country’s total exports, generating $31 billion in 2017 while cattle exports accounted for about $5.4 billion. Brazil leads the world in exports of both commodities. If global consumers continue to provide a market for these commodities, these industries will enjoy considerable economic incentives to aggressively expand activities, to the detriment of forest protections and indigenous land rights.
“Extinction Rebellion stands by APIB and its leaders in their efforts to amplify the role of the global financial sector in Amazon destruction through an international solidarity campaign. Because the genocide against indigenous people in Brazil is real, forces must be joined among allies in a battle for survival. Extinction Rebellion is their global ally, one country at a time,” said an Extinction Rebellion France spokesperson who attended the Parisian protest.
The protest in Paris had the support of civil society organizations, like Alerte France Bresil, Planète Amazone, Autres Bresils, Weaving Ties, Extinction Rebellion France, Amazon Watch, Nature Rights Citoyens Pour le Climat Paris, and others.
Interviews with APIB leaders available upon request
Click here for more information on APIB’s European tour.