Palm Oil companies under scrutiny after assassination attempt of Lúcio Tembé

Palm Oil companies under scrutiny after assassination attempt of Lúcio Tembé
Lúcio Tembé was shot in the head by two gunmen.

Pará State, Brazil, is a region of intense and escalating violence between large palm oil companies and Indigenous and traditional communities. It’s a region that accounts for most of the country’s lucrative palm oil production, and subsequently, where most of the fines issued for deforestation and instances of violence occur. Palm oil companies, such as the nations largest company Brasil BioFuels SA (BBF), have been accused of hiring private security forces to ensure a level of deniability, to carry out violence against Indigenous and other communities. In September last year, community leaders reported the killing of a non-indigenous activist and the wounding of two Indigenous Turiwara men in the state. Quilombola people, a community of Afro-Brazilian descendants of runaway slaves, also accuse BBF of using private contractors to impose themselves on local opposition. 


The use of violence to oppose local actors in order to secure profits is of course, nothing new, but the escalation of violence at a time of serious environmental collapse is a worrying trend. On the 14th May, Indigenous leader Lúcio Tembé, a staunch opposition of the continued pillage of his communities lands, was shot in the head. Though he has survived the assault after surgery, he is still in a critical condition. An investigation into the connection between the Palm Oil Companies  and the two gunmen is underway. 


impACT International urges the Brazilian judiciary, if a connection between gunmen and palm oil is found, to seriously punish corporate interest. Rather than just punishing the gunmen, ensuring that the industry faces the brunt of state and federal authority to deter any further illegal activities. In a region where 44 fines from both federal and state level have been issued, though only three have been reported to have been paid, Brazilian authorities must take a firmer stance against an industry that clearly sees itself above the law. At a time where environmental and Indigenous protection is be paramount, serious and lasting consequences must be laid out for entities that break the law and endanger environmental and public health. 


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