Felipe Milanez on Violence and Impunity in Brazil

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Danrley Furigá and other Ikpeng, one of the many indigenous people opposed to the Belo Monte dam and other proposed dams in the Xingu basin in Brazil’s Amazon. Photograph by Felipe Milanez

I’d never heard of Felipe Milanez before reading this article, which is surprising given his expertise and focus on violence in northeastern Brazil (I guess that’s a pretty poor reflection of my research skills).

Milanez’s interview had me excited for a variety of reasons, not least of all being his political ecology laden responses on the drivers of socio-environmental destruction in Brazil. Two points that had my mouth hanging open:

  1. In 2015 49 activists- 45 in the Amazon- were killed, making it the most violent year since 2004. Last year, 19 activists were killed in Pará (sorry Mum). All those responsible for these killings are free.
  2. “In the most violent region, southern Pará, where Zé Cláudio and Maria were killed, the main driver of blood today is the expansion of iron ore mining by Vale, the S11D project, and its infrastructure, such as the expansion of the Carajás railway”.

The numbers are striking, but Milanez’s second point grabbed my attention because it’s rare to come across such a stark accusation of Vale’s role in exacerbating violence in the Amazon. His advice to Dilma is sound, although he’s probably right, she wouldn’t pay any attention.