5,800-year-old tree (the Amazon’s oldest) cut down by illegal loggers trespassing on protected tribal land

A 5,800-year-old tree has been cut down by loggers illegally encroaching into the Matsés Indigenous Reserve, an area where logging is illegal but potentially holds huge reserves of oil and gas below ground.

Amazon's oldest tree chopped down by loggers

The logging firms claim it was an accident and they didn’t realise either where they were or how old the tree was. The giant Samauma tree is over 5,800 years old and 40 meters high.

The Matsés tribe called it “The Mother Tree”, so long has it been a fixture in the lives of them and their ancestors. No punishment has been given to the logging company involved, suggesting the local authorities may not be on nature’s side or that of the native people.

Within 20 years the speed at which the rainforest is being cut down in the Amazon has more than tripled, at 100 acres destroyed every minute, with most of the lost forest becoming pasture for cattle or to grow soy.

Protecting nature’s always pretty down the list in terms of priorities when war and famine are rife around the world, but this is still probably one of the ugliest man-made issues we’re committing on earth right now, and it’s one that could be solved fairly easily with the right controls and guidance.

Remember, the Amazon is the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists, which shows how vicious, lawless and powerful the logging firms are around there.

“We are fighting for our land, and we are being killed, one by one.” Eliseu Lopes, tribe leader in Brazil

Guarani are an indigenous people that live across Argentina, Bolivia and southwestern Brazil. When Europeans first arrived in South America in 1500 the Guarani numbered around 400,000. At that time, they were living in small communities and grew manioc, maize, wild game, and honey.

Cue a few hundred years and their leaders are being murdered by ranchers in a land dispute that should have ended in 1993.

Earlier this month, 27-year-old Guarani leader Marinalva Manoel was raped and stabbed to death after traveling 1,000km to Brasília to lobby the government to recognize Guarani land rights.

NGO Survival International has evidence Guarani-tribe leaders are being murdered by gunmen hired by ranchers eager to quash a land dispute in the rancher’s favour. Ranchers use Guarani land to grow sugar cane, soya and cattle. Profits are huge and ranchers are actively protected by local police and politicians, leaving the Guarani at their mercy.

Guarani leaders are singled out, attacked and killed by ranchers’ gunmen as a result of their campaign for their ancestral land to be mapped out and returned to them. Many leaders have received death threats. According to Brazil’s constitution, all the tribe’s land should have been returned to them by 1993.

Forced to live in overcrowded reserves and roadside camps while ranchers earn huge profits on their land, the Guarani suffer alarming rates of malnutrition, suicide and violence. A recent wave of eviction orders threatens to further worsen their horrific plight.

Despite many promises, successive governments have failed to resolve Brazil’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Survival International is asking anyone interested in protecting the rights of indigenous people to write to the Brazilian government and force them to sort the issue out in the Guarani’s favour.

Or send an email to President Dilma Rousseff at sg@planalto.gov.br

Something like:

Dear Dilma,

I am deeply concerned successive governments have failed to map out the lands of the Guarani tribe of Mato Grosso do Sul.

Without their ancestral land, the Guarani cannot survive. Their leaders are being killed one by one, their children are dying of malnutrition and they suffer one of the highest suicide rates in the world. The worldwide community is sickened by your failure to protect your people.

Please uphold the constitution and demarcate the Guarani’s lands immediately, before more lives are lost.

Sincerely,

Local Brazilian Funk DJ shot to death outside his home last night

(WARNING: Disturbing image in link at end of article)

A Funk DJ in Belo Horizonte was shot dead outside his house in Pampulha last night by two motorcyclists that rode past him, confirmed it was him and then circled back to open fire. He was shot ten times and died at the scene.

Although police say they don’t know the motive for the killing, rumours are that DJ Paulinho was mixed up with the wrong girl – a girl already attached to someone dangerous. His death could have been as petty as that – seems ridiculous, doesn’t it?

The worst thing about it is that this motive has been seen before in the Brazilian music scene.

The rumours echo the murder of MC Daleste a few years back, a huge Funk star making $60,000 a night when he was murdered (reportedly by cops) live on stage. MC Daleste was supposed to have been fooling around with a girl attached to a big drug-trafficker. For that, he was killed.

DJ Paulinho wasn’t a mega-star DJ in Brazil, but he had enough sets that he would work the local Funk circuit in Belo Horizonte, and he’d toured in the US, Portugal and France. He had a song called “Vai Paulin Vai Paulin” which got pretty famous.

Below is a video of him doing a Funk mix at Conexão Rio. The crime-scene image for DJ Paulinho is here – don’t click the link if you don’t want to see a dead body or blood.

Rest in peace – descanse em paz.

 

 

Acai: The best fruit-breakfast to start your morning in Brazil

There is no better breakfast than Creme de Açaí (pronounced “A-sigh-ee”), Brazilian’s national breakfast, dessert, energy-food and vitamin booster.

On a hot, humid morning in Brazil Açaí’s better than toast with butter and jam, Frosted Flakes, a Full English, croissants or even pain au chocolat dipped in hot chocolate.

Creme de Açaí is a kind of smoothie made from the little Açaí berry, a family-member of the cranberry and the blueberry. Creme de Açaí’s served just below freezing by taking it from the freezer and sticking it in the fridge for ten minutes, so it’s a little gloopy but still ice-cold.

Creme de Acai in a bowl with granola, strawberry and banana

It’s served with banana, granola and strawberries, although most places offer Leite Condensado (Sweetened Milk) and all kinds of fruit like pineapple and kiwi. It’s absolutely packed full of fibre, protein, vitamins and mineral – that’s why Brazilians call it the “complete fruit”.

Creme de açaí shops are everywhere in Brazil, especially in my state of Minas Gerais. Açaí is native to the Amazon rainforest, where trees grow up to thirty-feet high and the Açaí berries bunch together like grapes.

Creme de Acai bowl - super-healthy and beautifully-decorated with banana and strawberries, and milk powder

 

Cliff-top view of South America’s largest favela Rocinha from “Dois Irmaos” in Rio de Janeiro

Here’s a video looking over the edge down into Brazil and South America’s largest favela, Rocinha, from the “Dois Irmaos” mountain 500 metres above, in Rio de Janeiro.

It zooms right into the favela and across to the luxury beaches and apartments by the ocean, and then back out towards the mountains further along the Rio de Janeiro coastline.

The Rocinha favela is considered “pacified” by the police, and it’s true tourists can walk along the main road without fear of robbery. However, further into the favela the drug-trafficking regimes still rule the area, and crime is still ongoing for most of its 800,000 residents. As proof, I heard the sound of automatic gunfire echoing through the valley one morning as I hiked the Dois Irmaos mountain alone.

Access to the Dois Irmaos trail is through the Vidigal favela, itself a pretty difficult hike through steep, twisting favela streets. The neighbourhood’s really interesting, though, and there’s an Acai shop along the way.

The view from Dois Irmaos is better than the views from either Christ the Redeemer or Sugarloaf mountain, both of which you can see from Dois Irmaos.

In Brazilian novellas, Brazil is an all-white country with a couple of happy-to-be-poor black people

Brazil’s Globo TV company is producing a new novella called “Sexo e as negas (“Sex and denials“), about a group of four black women living in a lower-class neighbourhood in the Zona Norte of Rio de Janeiro, loosely based on Sex and the City.

Instead, however, of it being about four white women working prominent jobs in Manhattan, the wealthiest neighbourhood in the wealthiest country on earth, the four black characters are poor (but glamorous), and work as a cleaner, a seamstress, a manual labourer and a cook.

sexo-e-as-negras like sex and the city, but with black girls in Rio

(Also don’t search that title on Google, or you’ll come up with a lot of naughty pictures).

Despite Brazil having a huge share of black people in prominent and senior positions (including a potential future black female president in Marina Silva), Globo’s novellas on TV prefer to cast black people in poor, subservient roles where they are the comic foil or lackey. Black men and women are cleaners, manual labourers or shop assistants in the world of Globo scriptwriters.

That’s if black people feature at all in the novellas.  Despite Brazil being the second most-populous country in the world for black people (over fifty-per-cent of Brazilians identify themselves as black), novellas are predominantly dramas based in a Brazil where only white people exist.

In the latest smash-hit novella from Globo, Meu Pedacinho de Chão, here is the main cast (which you’ll notice doesn’t feature any black characters at all):

Meu pedacinho de chao, the rest of the predominantly-white cast

 

And here’s the black character:

Meu pedacinho de chao's diapo, the one black character is a clown...

And here’s the female lead protagonist, just because:

Meu pedacinho de Chao seio hot Brazilian novella girl with huge breasts on TV

The cast is whiter than milk, which obviously doesn’t represent the real Brazil. In fact, the characters are so white it only represents the small contingent of European descendant Brazilians that live in southern Brazil and still have blue eyes and blonde hair. They’re a tiny percentage of Brazil’s population (think Gisele), but they receive the most amount of attention on TV, are considered the most glamorous and hold the most senior positions.

The majority of Brazilians are a mix of caramel, coffee and chocolate skin colours.  Most of them aren’t that poor; they hold down jobs and buy cars and drink beers and speak other languages and have dreams.  but Globo doesn’t want to portray that side, which is pretty sinister and cruel when you think of the insane popularity these shows have in Brazil and what that would do to a person’s psyche.

For Globo, it’s everyone in their place, forever, and for black people, that means staying poor and pathetic.

 

Car drives through wall of multi-storey car park and lands flipped upside down in road

Today a car in Belo Horizonte drove through the concrete wall of a first-storey car-park, flipped over and slammed upside-down on the pavement.

And the driver managed to crawl out with minimal injuries. Nice!Car landed flipped upside down after smashing through multi-storey car-park wall.

He said the accelerator slipped under his foot...
He said the accelerator slipped under his foot…

News articles, videos and images looking at life and living in modern Brazil.