US Firms Linked to Brazil’s Lumber Wars

April 16th, 2004 - by admin

by –

States of Conflict

Several US companies help to fuel violence and rainforest destruction in the Brazilian Amazon by buying and/or distributing wood from Grupo Madenorte, a logging company that engages in corrupt practices in Brazil’s conflict-torn Pará state.

As detailed in the Greenpeace report State of Conflict, Madenorte and other timber companies use fraud, intimidation, slavery, and murder to usurp land from Pará residents and decimate the rainforest.

An annex to the report identifies Center, Texas-based Ihlo Sales & Import Company as the single largest importer of wood from Madenorte, and lists several other US companies that either import from Madenorte directly or distribute Madenorte wood from Ihlo.

We delivered copies of State of Conflict to every company named in the annex along with a letter, asking them to stop doing business with Madenorte.

We also delivered copies to the US Justice Department, State Department, Commerce Department, Fish & Wildlife Service, US Customs, and other government agencies responsible for enforcing the President’s Initiative on Illegal Logging.

Letter to Attorney General Ashcroft sent on release of new Greenpeace report, State of Conflict

Hand Delivered
John Ashcroft, Secretary of Justice
US Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20530-0001

Attorney General Ashcroft,

As you know, your Justice Department is prosecuting Greenpeace because, in April 2002, Greenpeace supporters attempted to alert the US government to a shipment of illegal Brazilian mahogany in transit to the Port of Miami. In multiple ways, we have delivered to you this message: Prosecute the criminals who are destroying our ancient forests, not Greenpeace for blowing the whistle.

Consistent with this message, today we are providing you with a new Greenpeace report entitled State of Conflict: An investigation into the landgrabbers, loggers and lawless frontiers in Pará State, Amazon.

Illegal Logging and Armed Violence
This report details the extensive degree to which illegal logging is taking place in Pará State, Brazil. State of Conflict profiles Grupo Madenorte and other Brazilian timber companies, and documents their use of fraud, intimidation, slavery and murder to illegally usurp land from Pará residents and illegally destroy the rainforest.

For your information, we have also enclosed a report annex, which details US companies that buy forest products from Grupo Madenorte. The annex identifies Ihlo Sales and Import Company of Center, Texas as the single largest importer of wood from Madenorte and lists several other US companies that have either imported from Madenorte directly or distributed Madenorte wood via Ihlo.

>i>State of Conflict details the alarming practice of land invasions, the illegal occupation of land, and violence — including murder and modern-day slavery – carried out by logging companies such as Madenorte.

The deplorable corruption and lawlessness in Pará State have led to egregious human rights abuses and widescale rainforest destruction, equaling one-third of the Amazon’s total deforestation. These crimes against the forest and forest-dependent people are being committed, in large part, to supply wood to the US marketplace.

White House Response Fails to Address Role of US Firms
In response to the alarming rate of illegal logging worldwide, President Bush launched the Presidential Initiative Against Illegal Logging with “the objective of assisting developing countries in their efforts to combat illegal logging, including the sale and export of illegally harvested timber, and in fighting corruption in the forest sector.”

Unfortunately, this initiative fails to address the role of the US as the largest importer of forest products worldwide and our responsibilities to ensure that our market is not inadvertently fueling the crisis.

As Greenpeace carries on its work to highlight the illegal forest products trade we welcome the opportunity to continue to work with the US government to strengthen the Presidential Initiative Against Illegal Logging to include measures to stop the importation of illegal wood.

Please contact Michelle Medeiros, Greenpeace Forest Campaigner, with your response to this letter.

Sincerely yours,
John Passacantando
Executive Director
Greenpeace, Inc.