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Brazil indigenous group mobilises against planned soy railway | Brazil News

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Sao Paulo, Brazil – The Kayapo, a Brazilian Amazon indigenous group, is mobilising to protect its land rights as the government works to launch an ambitious soy railway project that would pass within 60km of the tribe’s territory.

The $3.3bn, 933km EF-170, “Ferrograo” or “Grain Railway”, is a priority project of the government of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, whose 2018 victory was backed by Brazil’s powerful agriculture sector, in part on promises to freeze indigenous land demarcations.

Tarcisio Freitas, Brazil‘s Minister for Infrastructure, has described the Ferrograo project as “a revolution in terms of agribusiness”. Bidding is expected to begin end of the year or in early 2020.

The planned extension would connect Sinop in Brazil’s soy heartland state Mato Grosso to the Miritituba port in Para that sits on the Tapajos River, a major tributary of the Amazon. From there, soy shipments for export to China and other countries would head to ports in Belem and Santana.

Doto Takak-Ire, a Kayapo leader and member of Kabu Institute, an organisation formed of 12 Kayapo villages, told Al Jazeera he worried that the project would bring an influx of speculative farmers to the edges of the Kayapo Menkragnoti and Bau reserves and that increased use of pesticides would pollute local rivers. 

The Kayapo say they are worried that the project would bring an influx of speculative farmers encroaching on the edges of the Kayapo Menkragnoti and Bau reserve [Giovanni Bello/Rede Xingu/Al Jazeera]

“We notice that, already, with the announcement of the project, there is a huge increase in the amount of soy plantations in the region, some very close to our land,” he said.

Takak-Ire also voiced concern that the project would cause illegal loggers, land grabbers and wildcat miners in the region to increase.

‘Government isn’t fulfilling the law’

Located close to the BR-163 highway, the Kayapo territory is already one of the Amazon’s most targeted indigenous lands for loggers, losing 776 hectares between 2017-2018 according to Brazil’s National Space Institute.

The Kayapo say that they haven’t been consulted adequately about the railway and delivered a protocol document to federal prosecutors and environmental authorities on Wednesday with a list of demands.

These include that leaders from all 12 villages must be present during government negotiations and meetings must include trusted translators for tribe members that don’t speak Portuguese.

“This protocol is important for us because the government is not fulfilling the law,” Takak-Ire said.

Brazil’s Program of Investment Partnerships, which oversees investment of the project, rejects the Kayapo accusation, telling Al Jazeera via email that representatives of indigenous communities were present during public hearings about the project and that further consultations will happen during the environmental licensing process.

The indigenous reject this and say they must be consulted sufficiently and under their specified conditions before the project proposal heads to Federal Court of Accounts as promised to them by National Land Transport Agency in 2017.

Felipe Moura Palha, a federal prosecutor, told Al Jazeera that “the position of the prosecutor’s office is that the Brazilian state must respect the protocol drawn up by the indigenous people”.

Palha added that if the state does not, it is violating the Brazilian constitution and Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization. 

“This could lead to the project being annulled if the national and international norms of indigenous rights are not respected,” Palha said. “This could even lead to the conviction of the Brazilian state in international courts for violation of human rights.”

Most valuable export product

Soy is Brazil’s most valuable export product, accounting for $25bn in 2017, most of which is sent to China. But infrastructure bottlenecks such as poor quality roads cause the price of Brazil grains to rocket from farm to port.

Edeon Vaz Ferreira, a logistics specialist at the Association of Brazilian Soybean Producers, told Al Jazeera, that the average cost of soy collection and delivery to port per ton in Brazil was $88 compared to $20 in the American mid-west.

“The Ferrograo will significantly reduce the costs of Brazilian soy, making the product more competitive,” he said.

According to the Mato Grosso Agricultural Institute, the Ferrograo could lead to a 70 percent increase in the annual grain collection of the state over a period of 10 years. 

Currently, Mato Grosso grains heading north to the Miritituba port are transported along the BR-163 highway, at least 50km of which is still unpaved and in 2017, 4,000 trucks were stopped for more than a week due to flooding because of heavy rains.

Brazil’s Vice President General Hamilton Mourao told local soy producers at an agricultural event on Friday in Sorriso, Mato Grosso, that “the Ferrograo will happen, it will be built. It won’t be easy, but if it was easy, it wouldn’t be for us. The difficult missions are for Jair Bolsonaro.”

Bolsonaro was sworn in on January 1. Indigenous leaders and advocacy groups have denounced steps taken by Bolsonaro’s government to reduce protection of indigenous lands by handing power of demarcation to Brazil’s agricultural ministry, as well as a series of attacks and invasions by loggers and land grabbers.

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Driver in satisfactory condition following head-on Gatineau collision

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One person was in hospital in satisfactory condition following a head-on collision between two vehicles in Gatineau on Saturday.

According to Gatineau police, the crash occurred around 1:30 p.m. on Montée Paiement, between Saint-Thomas and Saint-Columban roads.

Each of the vehicles had only one occupant at the time of the incident.

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Ottawa military family alleges bad faith eviction by Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada

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An Ottawa military family alleges their former landlord — Saudi Arabia’s top diplomat in Canada — acted in bad faith when he gave them a notice of eviction, claiming he intended to move into their Vanier rental home with his own family.

The home is now listed for sale for $950,000, two months after Vivian and Tim Funk moved out with their two young children.

In documents filed with the Landlord and Tenant Board, the Funks detailed how their landlord, Sulaiman AlAqeel, acted to end their tenancy by allegedly pretending he was moving in himself. This was preceded by an attempt to market the house to new tenants for significantly more money when the Funks had not given notice indicating they would be leaving, the documents alleged. “The landlord’s representative,” according to the documents, allegedly told the Funks they needed to accept a $500 monthly rent increase and a new lease if they wanted to continue living in the rental property, which wouldn’t be legal under the Residential Tenancies Act.

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Ottawa COVID-19 hospitalization data showing half of cases coming from community, not just long-term care

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With local data showing 50 per cent of COVID-19 hospitalizations coming from the community, long-term care residents aren’t the only one vulnerable to severe illness from the virus, Ottawa’s Board of Health reports.

Despite the majority of deaths having happened in older adult age groups in long-term care homes, residents shouldn’t think institutions are the only settings that are vulnerable to outbreaks that lead to serious illness from the virus.

“[Ottawa Public Health] continues to expand our understanding of the types of settings and situations that have the most impact on COVID-19 transmission in our community and is seeking academic partners to better explore exposure risks as well as a broader assessment of the harms from different public health measures,” OPH outlined in its document, to be present at the Board of Health on Monday.

At the same time, however, OPH says it is working closely with partners on “processes to strengthen and streamline responses.” This includes weekly meetings across agencies to address issues and concerns to ensure a strong collaboration, ongoing communications with facilities, preventative visits and phone calls to review infection prevention and control.

In situations where OPH identified failings at an LTCH or concerns of compliance have been raised, OPH has been quick to issue letters of expectation that outline the deficiencies and timelines fo compliance.

It is unclear how many letters have been issued through both waves of the virus.

And while outbreaks in LTCH during wave two have recorded a higher number of LTCH outbreaks than in wave one, the overall morbidity and mortality has been lower. This means fewer cases, fewer deaths and a lower average duration of outbreaks.

OPH contributed this to building on lessons learned from early COVID-19 outbreaks in LTCH in Ottawa.

https://www.ottawamatters.com/local-news/ottawa-covid-19-hospitalization-data-of-severe-illness-shows-half-of-cases-coming-from-community-not-just-long-term-care-homes-3136152

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