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In Bolsonaro’s Brazil, indigenous groups fear more violence | Brazil News




Amarante do Maranhao, Brazil – Davi Gaviao, an indigenous man with a mental illness was known to spend his days wandering the streets of Amarante do Maranhao, a poor and remote rural town on Brazil’s Amazon frontier.

By nightfall, he would usually return to the nearby 42,000 hectare Governador indigenous reserve where he lived with around 1,500 other Gaviao Pykopje tribespeople, in Maranhao state.

But in mid-October, days after the first round of Brazil’s presidential elections, Davi was killed, shot to death by two men on a motorbike as he lay asleep outside a local supermarket.

Sebastiao Wagner Bezerra, a local civil police chief, confirmed to Al Jazeera that an investigation of Davi’s murder was “advancing” but the motive was still unknown.

Rumours spread that Davi had somehow “offended” the matriarch of one of the powerful landowning families that dominate the region. Others speculate that he was killed for being indigenous.

Amarante’s economy, specialists say, is based in large part on illegal timber, much of which is plundered from indigenous reserves like Governador where Davi lived.

“Some locals here see indigenous people as a barrier to progress,” said Guaraci Mendes da Silva, a substitute regional coordinator in Maranhao state for Brazil’s National indigenous Foundation (Funai).

Davi’w murder comes amid rising violence against indigenous people and rural peasants in Brazil’s Amazon states, enabled by recent cuts to indigenous and environmental budgets.

And now, with the election of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1, local indigenous activists fear even more violence due to the president’s history of anti-indigenous rhetoric and alliance with Brazil’s powerful farming lobby.

A sign marking an indigenous territory is riddled with bullet holes [Tommaso Protti/Al Jazeera]

Shortly after being elected at the end of October, Bolsonaro said in a TV interview, “As far as I am concerned, there is no more demarcation of indigenous land.” 

Increased gun ownership for rural property owners and opening up indigenous lands for mining were also measures touted throughout his campaign.

Hours after assuming office on Tuesday, Bolsonaro issued an executive order transferring the responsibilities of regulating and creating new indigenous lands from the the indigenous affairs agency, Funai, under the Justice Ministry to the Agricultural Ministry. Funai will be moved to a new ministry for family, women and human rights.

Analysts fear that such a move and rhetoric empowers violent loggers and land grabbers in largely lawless and remote rural areas and towns like Amarante.

“It’s a discourse that legitimises violence against indigenous people,” said Cleber Buzatto, executive secretary of the indigenous Missionary Council, an advocacy group, said of Bolsonaro.

‘Sends a message’

In July, Bolsonaro visited Eldorado do Carajas, in the Amazon state of Para, which neighbours Maranhao, site of a 1996 massacre in which 19 rural workers protesting by blocking a highway were killed by military police. Two former police colonels are serving 228 years for the crime.

Brazil’s O Estado de S Paulo newspaper reported that Bolsonaro said, “Who needed to have been arrested were the MST, (Landless Worker’s Movement) who are scoundrels and shameless. The police reacted not to die.”

Luiz Antonio Nabhan Garcia, president of the Democratic Association of Ruralists (UDR), a group of right-wing farmers and activists opposed to land reform, now appointed as Bolsonaro’s secretary for land affairs, told Brazil’s O Globo in a recent interview that he would not “negotiate” with landless peasant movements.

“The tendency is for rural violence to increase even further, it’s very worrying,” said Paulo Cesar Moreira, a national coordinator for Brazil’s Pastoral Land Commission. 

Brazil is already the world’s deadliest country in sheer numbers for indigenous, land and environmental activists with a record 57 killings in 2017 according NGO Global Witness.

Impunity is a huge driver of violence and Maranhao is one of the worst affected states. According to Brazil’s Pastoral Land Commission, a rural violence watchdog, of 157 land conflict killings in Maranhao between 1985 and 2017, just five ended up in court.

Amarante do Maranhao, a municipality of some 40,000 people is home to two large indigenous reserves; Governador and Arariboia. Together, a handful of indigenous lands and conservation units concentrate 70 percent of the remaining Amazon forest in Maranhao state.

According to Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research, just 25 percent of Maranhao’s previous 110,000 square kilometre of Amazon forest remains, the majority of which was cleared for agriculture and cattle ranching.

Recent data showed that across Brazil’s Amazon states, deforestation increased by nearly 50 percent during the August to October election period.

“Bolsonaro’s discourse throughout the campaign, that he’ll end Ibama [Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources] or the environmental ministry, this sends a message to those that commit environmental crimes, that they will be tolerated,” said Marcio Astrini, public policy coordinator for Greenpeace Brazil. “It has an immediate effect.”

Government data pointed to an overall increase of nearly 14 percent in Amazon deforestation in 2018 compared with the previous year, the worst result in a decade, which the government blamed on illegal logging.

Ibama destroyed several irregular sawmills in Amarante and the surrounding municipalities last year [Tommaso Protti/Al Jazeera]

Experts warn that unless deforestation slows, the Amazon will reach a point of no return and eventually begin to turn into shrubland.

“If the deforestation continues and passes 20 – 25 percent, there is the risk of the beginning of the process of the Amazon turning into Savannah,” said Carlos Nobre, one of Brazil’s leading climate scientists.

Nobre said that 16 percent was already gone and could be accelerated through climate change, global warming and forest fires.

Ricardo Salles, Bolsonaro’s environmental minister, has called climate change a “secondary issue” and environmental fines “”ideological.”

‘We have no resources, no support’

In poor rural Amazon towns like Amarante do Maranhao, many locals who depend on the timber trade for their income agree with Salles, leading to conflicts with authorities and indigenous groups.

Last year, Ibama destroyed several irregular sawmills in Amarante and the surrounding municipalities.

“The objective of destroying these sawmills was to protect the biodiversity inside of indigenous lands and conservation units,” said Roberto Cabral, surveillance operations coordinator of Ibama, who was once shot and injured by loggers in the region.

Rosinan Alves dos Santos, 43, said that he had worked at a sawmill that was destroyed by Ibama last year and that afterwards was unemployed for nearly eight months. Now working at another irregular sawmill, he said he could earn 50 Brazilian real (about $13) a day, more than Brazil’s minimum wage.

“They come here and destroy our jobs,” he said of Ibama. “For us, this is the only work we have.”

Roberto Cabral of Ibama said, “There is a false impression that the jobs that sawmills provide are providing prosperity,”

Cabral added that “if you look as cities where clandestine sawmills are present, the city doesn’t develop, because there are no taxes paid.”

Forest guards say that they receive regular threats [Tommaso Protti/Al Jazeera] 

Al Jazeera visited the Governador indigenous reserve earlier this year. For decades, the Governador reserve has been plundered by illegal loggers and in 2013, tribesmen set up an indigenous forest patrol guard initiative to keep the loggers out.

“Before, illegal logging in our territory was basically liberated,” said Marcelo Gaviao, 37, the leader of the forest guard. Marcelo Gaviao said he and other leaders receive regular threats.

But it’s far from stopped. It was here, last year, that Sonia Vicente Cacau Gaviao and José Caneta Gaviao, were killed when they were hit by a speeding truck local leaders say belonged to loggers.

Marcelo Gaviao also said that some indigenous on Governador are “co-opted”: that they pass information to loggers in exchange for payment. 

“Even during our monitoring group we have people who pass information about missions,” he said.

Al Jazeera recently accompanied the forest guard on a night patrol of the territory. At one point, Marcelo Gaviao and four other forest guards dressed in camouflage and armed with shotguns in a pickup, sped after a truck laden with timber they suspected was taken from their reserve but gave up after a brief chase, fearful of a violent confrontation.

Now, with the murder of Davi Gaviao and the new Bolsonaro government, Marcelo Gaviao, his forest guard and the community fear escalating violence and increased invasions of their territory.

“We are really scared after what happened to Davi,” Jonas Polino Sançao, a local indigenous teacher and activist said. “We have no resources, no support.”


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Tiger-Cats claim victory against the Argos to maintain home record on Labour Day




The Hamilton Tiger-Cats were at their devastating best against the Toronto Argonauts when the two locked horns on Labour Day at the Tim Hortons Field.

Just like with previous Labour Day fixtures, the Ticats produced a stellar performance with Dane Evans throwing two touchdown passes while Frankie Williams scored on a 67-yard punt return as they claimed a 32-19 victory on Monday. With this vital win, the Ticats extended their Labour Day home record to 7-0.

For players and fans of the Tiger-Cats, games on Labour Day are a lot more special and losing is something the Ticats aren’t used to.

“We know the fans are going to be behind us, we know Toronto is going to be chippy, we know it’s going to be sunny; we know it’s going to be windy. Everything that happened (Monday) we prepared for. There is something extremely special about Tim Hortons Field on Labour Day . . . you can feel it in the air, I can’t put it into words,” said Evans.

After the COVID-19 induced hiatus, the CFL is back in full action and fans can now bet on their favourite teams and just like with online slots Canada, real money can be won. Hamilton (2-2) recorded its second straight win to move into a tie atop the CFL East Division standings with Montreal Alouettes (2-2). Also, the Ticats lead the overall Labour Day series with Toronto 36-13-1.

In the sun-drenched gathering of 15,000—the maximum allowed under Ontario government COVID-19 protocols—the fans loved every minute of this feisty game. After all, this was the Ticats first home game in 659 days, since their 36-16 East Division final win over Edmonton in November 2019.

The contest between the Ticats and Argos was certainly not bereft of emotions, typical of a Labour Day fixture, as it ended with an on-field melee. But the Argos often found themselves on the wrong end of the decisions with several penalty calls and most of the game’s explosive plays.

Hamilton quarterback Evans completed 21-of-29 passing for 248 yards and the two touchdowns while Toronto’s make-shift quarterback Arbuckle completed 18-of-32 attempts for 207 yards. Arbuckle also made a touchdown and two interceptions before eventually being substituted by McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Bethel-Thompson made an eight-yard TD pass to wide receiver Eric Rogers late in the final quarter of the game.

“They got after us a bit . . . we didn’t block, or pass protect well,” said Ryan Dinwiddie, rookie head coach of the Argos in a post-match interview. “They just kicked our butts; we’ve got to come back and be a better team next week.”

The Labour Day contest was the first of four fixtures this year between Toronto and Hamilton. The two teams would face off again on Friday at BMO Field. Afterwards, the Tim Hortons Field will play host to the Argonauts again on Oct. 11 with the regular-season finale scheduled for Nov. 12 in Toronto.

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Roughriders looking to bounce back after Labor Day defeat




In what an unusual feeling for the Saskatchewan Roughriders, they would now need to dust themselves up after a 23-8 loss to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in what was a Labor Day Classic showdown in front of a full capacity crowd at Mosaic stadium.

Craig Dickenson, head coach of the Riders, witnessed his team with an unbeaten record get utterly dominated by a more superior team from Winnipeg. Now, he has got a lot of work on his hands getting his team back to winning ways as they visit the Banjo Bowl next.

“We’re going to see what we’re made of now…the jury’s out,” said Dickenson.

Dan Clark, who played centre for the Riders expressed his disappointment in losing what was “the biggest game of the year”.

 “If you lose every other game, you don’t want to lose that one. We’ve just got to take the next step,” said Clark in a report. “There are 12 steps to the Grey Cup left and it’s just about taking that next step and focusing on what Saturday will bring.”

With their first defeat to Winnipeg, the Riders (3-1) now rank second place in the CFL’s West Division, trailing the Bombers by one victory (4-1). However, the Riders will have the chance to even the season series during their trip to Winnipeg this Saturday. With the CFL heating up, fans can now enjoy online sports betting Canada as they look forward to their team’s victory.

The Rider’s offensive line will once again have a busy time dealing with the Blue Bombers’ defence.

Quarterback Cody Fajardo, who played one of the best games of his career two weeks earlier, had quite a stinker against the Bombers in the Labour Day Classic—which is the most anticipated game for Rider fans.

Fajardo had a 59 per cent completion percentage which wasn’t quite indicative of what the actual figure was considering he was at 50 per cent before going on a late drive in the final quarter with the Bombers already becoming laid back just to protect the win.

Fajardo also registered a personal worst when he threw three interceptions, but in all fairness, he was always swarmed by the Bomber’s defence.

While Fajardo has claimed responsibility for the loss and letting his teammates down, many would be curious to see how the team fares in their next game and with less than a week of preparation.

Dickenson is confident that his team would improve during their rematch in the 17th edition of the Banjo Bowl in Winnipeg. The only challenge now would be the loss of home advantage and dealing with the noisy home crowd, he added.

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Canadian report reveals spike in food-related litter during pandemic




TORONTO — Restaurants’ inability to offer their usual dine-in service during much of 2020 may explain why an unusually high amount of food-related litter was found across the country, a new report says.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup (GCSC) is an annual program in which volunteers are encouraged to clean up green spaces and other natural areas.

Last year, single-use food and beverage containers made up 26.6 per cent of waste collected through the program – nearly twice as high a percentage as in 2019, before the pandemic.

“We suspect the change may be one of the many implications of COVID-19, including more people ordering restaurant takeaway and consuming more individually packaged foods,” GCSC spokesperson Julia Wakeling said in a press release.

While food- and beverage-related litter accounted for a greater percentage of waste uncovered by GCSC than in the past, it wasn’t the single largest category of items picked up through the program last year.

That dubious honour goes to cigarette butts and other smoking-related paraphernalia, which comprised nearly 29 per cent of all items collected. There were more than 83,000 cigarette butts among the 42,000 kilograms of waste found and clean up last year.

So-called “tiny trash” – little pieces of plastic and foam – also accounted for a sizeable share of the waste, making up 26.8 per cent of the total haul.

In addition to smoking-related items and tiny trash, the main pieces of litter removed by GCSC volunteers last year included nearly 22,000 food wrappers, more than 17,500 pieces of paper, more than 13,000 bottle caps and more than 10,000 beverage cans.

Discarded face masks and other forms of personal protective equipment were also detected and cleaned up, although not tallied in their own category.  PPE waste has been repeatedly cited as a concern by environmental advocates during the pandemic; a robin in Chilliwack, B.C. is the earliest known example of an animal that died due to coronavirus-related litter.

The GCSC is an annual program organized by Ocean Wise and the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Its operations were disrupted by the pandemic as well; only 15,000 volunteers took part in the program last year, versus 85,000 in 2019, due to delays and public health restrictions making large group clean-ups impossible.

Still, there was GCSC participation from every province and the Northwest Territories in 2020. Nearly half of the volunteers who took part were based in B.C., where the program began in 1994.

Data from past GCSC reports was used as part of the research backing Canada’s ban on certain single-use plastic items, which is scheduled to take effect by the end of 2021.

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