Roadside camp in Mato Grosso, Brazil. Photo: Rodrigo Baleia
The human cost of 'super-clean' sugar ethanol
2nd March, 2010
Brazil is hailed as a biofuels success story - producing and using ethanol from high yielding crops within the country. But those indigenous families who have been displaced by sugar cane cultivation see things differently
Cars shoot along a highway that cuts its way through a sugarcane plantation as Farid and his community sit by the roadside. Members of the indigenous Guarani-Kaiowa people from the South-Western Brazilian province of Mato Grosso do Sul, they have been camped here for two months, with nothing but a canopy of refuse sacks on sticks to protect them from the blasting sun.
Why are they here? This 10m verge is the last remaining strip of their ancestral lands, upon which they may legally live as they fight their battle to move back home. Meanwhile vast sugar cane plantations, valued at up to USD$300 million, are turning this fertile rolling landscape into a monoculture as demand for biofuels rockets up.
Order and progress?
Brazil, a country renowned for its natural wealth, is almost as famous for its economic inequalities. However during the last 10 years the adage 'Brazil is the country of the future — and always will be' is being proved false. The economy is booming, and agriculture is one of the big contributors. However, despite the millions of urban and rural poor that have been pulled out of poverty, one of the groups who have been left behind in Brazil’s race to...
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