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Commodity traders accused of complicity with death threats and violence against Brazilian indigenous communities

BRAZIL’S rural communities face death threats and violence as corporations seek to force them from their sustainably managed land, a new Global Witness report claimed yesterday.

The community of Capao de Modesto in Bahia state is one of those facing forced displacement to make way for powerful agricultural producers of environmentally damaging cash crops like soy and cotton, it is claimed.

Locals allege that security guards hired by a group of major soy producers have carried out violence, destruction of property and death threats, while the community also faces litigation to prevent it from accessing its lands.

“The conflict is an example of a ‘green land grab’,” Global Witness said, “with the farmers claiming that the contested area is a ‘legal reserve’ — forest areas that Brazilian law requires be preserved to offset deforestation for soy.”

The human rights group said that the Brazilian government must prioritise the provision of recognised land titles to traditional communities in Brazil to allow them to live in peace.

Investigations by Global Witness revealed that global commodity traders ADM, Bunge and Cargill are dealing in “conflict-tainted soy sourced from these producers.”

“In doing so [they] are contributing to this land conflict and alleged human rights abuses,” which is a violation of UN human rights standards, the NGO said.

Locals are doing their best to defend their communities from the land grab and to remain in their traditional homeland.

“We resist because we need to remain in our territory,” said Juscelino Santos Britto. “If we give up our land to them, what are we going to live off?”

The European Union imported 7 million tons of Brazilian soy last year.

Global Witness spokeswoman Marina Commandulli called for “strong action from the European Commission as it moves ahead with new draft legislation to hold companies liable for human rights and environmental harms in their supply chains.”

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