By Harald Eraker
Jose Luiz Francisco Ramos (representative of the Tupinkim-Indians) and Mauricio da Silva Goncalves (representative of the Guarani Indians) together with Winfried Overbeek (from CIMI, the Brazilian catholic church organisation for indigenous questions) will visit Norway from 19-26 of May.
The delegation has the goal of seeking support in Norway for their struggle to get their land back from Aracruz Celulose S.A., which is partly owned by the Loretzen family and the Den norske Bank. It is in this connection that the Indians have requested Future In Our Hands (FIOH), which is financing part of the trip, to investigate the possibility of meeting King Harald. An enquiry of audience was sent on the 11th of April
- We really hope that the King will have time to meet the Indians. Ramos and Goncalves represent 1 500 Indians who legitimately demand back some of their traditional land. This should not be any problem for Aracruz, which owns land equivalent to 4/5 of Oppland county, to satisfy the demand, said Tor Traasdahl, the director of Future In Our Hands, who signed the enquiry of audience.
The Norwegian visit comes a year after the Indians started an international campaign to pressure Aracruz regarding the land dispute. Besides the meeting with the King, the delegation from Brazil wishes to meet politicians, environ-mental and solidarity organi-sations, representatives of the church and the Sami people, and to reach out to Norwegian public with their story about the expanding Aracruz.
Several thousand Indians had to move from their traditional land when Aracruz started its activities in 1967. The company has replanted a large part of the area with eucalyptus, raw material for cellulose production. Eucalyptus plantations cause large environmental problem. Within a few years Aracruz logged more than 50 000 hectares of virgin forest to make space for the plantations (see NorWatch No.6-96 and 3-97).
"Within a short time they destroyed seven Tupinikim villages, threw us out, and today we are circled with an ocean of eucalyptus plantations....."
Jose Luis Ramos, leader of a Tupinikim village, referring to Aracruz conduct in 1967.
Lorentzen and DnB in Brazil
Through Lorentzen Empreendimentos Holdings (owned 60% by Lorentzen and 20% DnB), the two Norwegian companies control 28% of the voting-shares in Aracruz Cellulose S.A., where Erling Lorentzen is board chairman.
Norwatch Newsletter 5/97