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Counter-Protest by Workers Forces Indian Protesters and Activists From Brazilian Port
Sao Paulo, Brazil, 14 December 2006 - Portocel, the port terminal in Aracruz (ES) used to ship 90% of Brazil's pulp exports, resumed its activities on Thursday (December 14). The nearly 100 Indians and activists linked to the Brazilian Landless Peasants Movement (MST) who invaded the port on Tuesday morning, forcing the interruption of its activities, departed from the facility Wednesday afternoon after some 2000 Aracruz Celulose employees and collaborators held a demonstration to protest the invasion of the terminal. The invaders ransacked the Portocel offices.

The employee protest against the invasion was organized by Espírito Santo forestry and industrial workers labor unions (Sintiema, Sindifer and Sindicel). According to the president of the forestry workers union (Sintiema), Davi Gomes, the purpose of the demonstration was achieved. "We felt that the company was all alone. The lack of action by the government infuriated the workers. This situation puts our jobs at risk, and so we decided to hold this protest against the Indians. It is a legitimate demonstration by the workers who decided, each one, to fight for what is theirs by law."

Aracruz Celulose's president and CEO, Carlos Aguiar, reiterated the expectation that authorities would "assure the right to work of all employees and the orderly environment necessary to conduct productive activities."

Portocel is the largest pulp exporting terminal in the world, through which four companies -- Aracruz Celulose, Cenibra, Suzano and Stora Enso -- ship 5.4 million tons a year of the product, contributing some USD 3.2 million annually to Brazil's trade balance. The shutdown of the port could cause delays in the delivery of Brazilian pulp to international customers, leading to contractual breaches that would have serious consequences for Brazilian companies.

The invasion of Portocel was the latest of an escalating series of actions designed to pressure the Brazilian Ministry of Justice into issuing a favorable decision on the expansion by 11,000 hectares of an indigenous reservation in Espírito Santo, almost all involving land owned by Aracruz Celulose. These acts have included the invasion of land and industrial facilities, the setting of forest fires, the interruption of traffic on public highways, the theft of wood and the intimidation of workers, in clear disregard of the law. Last June, the company presented the government with detailed and independently verified documentation proving that it acquired its lands in a legal manner.


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