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Indigenous Demonstrators Block Highway and Keep Aracruz Celulose Employees From Work
Sao Paulo, Brazil, 28 August 2006 -- Aracruz Celulose's employees were kept from reaching their workplace this morning (August 28) because of a demonstration by members of indigenous communities from the Aracruz (Espírito Santo) region. The demonstrators, who said they were protesting the recent arrest of Indians in the region, blocked the highway near a Federal Highway Police station at the entrance to one of their villages, stopping buses taking employees to the Aracruz pulp mill and any automobiles containing individuals wearing Aracruz uniforms.

Each day, 12 buses carrying Aracruz employees from the Greater Vitória area drive through the region where the highway was blocked. Seven of these buses, carrying approximately 220 employees, were held back by the demonstrators. Another five buses succeeded in reaching the company through another route.

One part of the group of demonstrators wore typical Indian body and facial paint and carried bladed weapons. The group totaled approximately 60 persons, including teenagers and children. The motive of the protest was the arrest of 23 persons (including 15 Indians) on 09 August in the municipality of Aracruz when they were alledgedly discovered stealing wood from an area owned by Aracruz Celulose. They are being held at the Aracruz police station and will be tried on charges of theft and criminal association.

Aracruz's manager for community affairs, Jessé Moura Marques, noted that the company vehemently repudiates this type of demonstration, mainly involving impeding its employees to come and go as they please. "Once again, Aracruz is being used as an instrument of pressure by a part of the indigenous communities who are interested in calling attention to the authorities to resolve matters that go beyond the decision-making powers of the company. Aracruz continues to believe in a legal solution through the courts, and understands that this is the proper forum to resolve any conflicts of interest," she said.


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