Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva considered “cruel and cowardly” the assassination of Sister Dorothy Stang and the other murders that occurred in the state of Pará, in Brazil’s Amazon region, for reasons connected to land disputes.
He regarded the crimes as “a reaction against the implementation of the federal government’s program on behalf of property regulation and environmental preservation in the region,” and he ordered the installation of a provisional federal government cabinet in the area, as well as declaring off-limits 20 million acres (the size of the state South Carolina) of forest on federal government lands adjoining federal highway BR 163.
This information was furnished by Presidential spokesman, André Singer. According to Singer, Lula assured that the federal government programs that provoked these reactions will not only continue but will be expanded in Pará.
To this end, yesterday Lula authorized the creation of the Midland (“Terra do Meio”) Ecological Station and the Serra do Pardo National Park in the region under the greatest threat of deforestation last year in Pará.
Together, as the Minister of Environment, Marina Silva, announced, these two conservation units will contain over 3.8 million hectares and will protect one of the state’s most important forest areas.
A provisional cabinet to reinforce the federal government’s actions will also be set up in Pará. The location has not been determined yet, but the cabinet is expected to function in Belém (the state capital) or in the municipality of Altamira.
Lula also decided to declare off-limits the entire area of forests on federal government lands to the west of federal highway BR 163 in the state. This represents over 8.2 million hectares, in which the creation of conservation units will be studied during the next six months.
Minister Silva emphasized that these measures should convey a message to public opinion that “there will be no type of turning back when it comes to the implementation of acts of property regulation and the creation of conservation units in the state.”
Translation: David Silberstein
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