Death in the Amazon: Triple Murder Renews Friction Over Rain-Forest Growth

May 22, 2014 • Protection of Species, Brazil, Daily Email Recap

Death in the Amazon: Triple Murder Renews Friction Over Rain-Forest Growth

Tenharim Indians Charged in Killings of Settlers as Brazil Continues Development in Difficult Region

For WSJ link to story: Here

HUMAITÁ, Brazil-On a muggy February day, police made a grisly find on an Indian reservation in Brazil’s Amazon: the bodies of three men last seen driving toward the reserve on the Trans-Amazon highway, the massive road Brazil bulldozed deep into the rain forest in the 1970s.

The discovery added grim clues to a murder case that has pitted the Amazon settler town of Humaitá against the Tenharim Indian reservation 80 miles to the east. Police charged six Tenharim Indians this month with murder-charges the six have denied as they await trial. In Humaitá, where two of the victims lived, police say locals rioted and set fires at an Indian health clinic and aid agency. There is ominous talk, locals say, of more violence.

The triple murder exposes a troubling legacy of the Amazon’s signature road. Four decades after Brazil plowed a rutted red-clay track some 2,500 miles into its vast rain forest interior, the Trans-Amazon remains a source of tension between the settlers who came with it, and the Indians who were living in its path. And those tensions have boiled over as Brazil makes a new push to develop the world’s largest tropical rain forest.

Some of those tensions are surfacing now because the Amazon region-about the size of Western Europe-has undergone a remarkable population boom, rising 50% in two decades to 25 million people as mines, ranches and soy farms attract migrants. Workers are flocking here to help pave roads and build a string of huge hydroelectric dams planned for the region’s big rivers.

For WSJ link to story: Here

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