(First published in Norwegian 31 Aug 2007)
By Pia Gaarder
On Tuesday 28 August 2007 Brazil’s minister of justice signed the decrees that settle a long-standing land conflict between the cellulose giant Aracruz Celulose and the Tupinikim and Guarani Indian tribes in favour of the Indians.
The decrees determine that the disputed 11,009-hectare territory, the major part of which is formally owned by Aracruz today, originally constituted Indian territories and is to be returned to the Indians. The Indian tribes’ territory will thereby increase from today’s 7,061 hectares to 18,070 hectares.
Norwatch has asked Haakon Lorentzen to comment on the decision made by the minister of justice. Haakon Lorentzen is today a member of the board of Aracruz Celulose and continued as a board member after his father, Erling Lorentzen, resigned as chairman of the board in the spring of 2004. Erling Lorentzen was the founder of Aracruz Celulose, and today the family owns, through Lorentzen Empreendimentos, 28% of the company.
“Even though there exist several points that indicate that Aracruz can dispute the decision in the courts, this is not the company’s intention”, Haakon Lorentzen informed Norwatch in an e-mail.
The prerequisite is, according to Lorentzen, that the company receives a juridical guarantee that there will be no further expansion of the Indian reservations on the company’s land and that there is a definite end to the matter.
Lorentzen emphasized that the minister of justice has stated that the decision must not be regarded as if Aracruz has done something unlawful.