Survival International, a human rights advocacy group based in the US, reports that Brazilian armored units are conducting a large-scale operation against illegal logging that threatens the land of the Awá a people: one of the various native American tribes living in Amazonia. According to SI, hundreds of soldiers, police officers and Environment Ministry special agents have flooded the area, backed up with tanks, helicopters and close to a hundred other vehicles, to halt the illegal deforestation which has already destroyed more than 30% of one of the Awá territories.
 
Since the operation reportedly started at the end of June, 2013, at least eight saw mills have been closed and other machinery has been confiscated and destroyed. A release from SI contends that the government's interdiction "comes at a critical time for the Awá, one of the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribes in the Brazilian Amazon, who are at risk of extinction if the destruction of their forest is not stopped as a matter of urgency."
 
But while the operation is making it more difficult for loggers to enter Awá territory and remove the valuable timber, the forces have not moved onto the Awá’s land itself – where illegal logging is still taking place. A spokesman for the tribe, Amiri Awá, said "The invaders must be made to leave our forest. We don’t want our forest to disappear. The loggers have already destroyed many areas."
 
Survival International has frequently urged the Brazilian government to send troops to prevent the encroachment of loggers and settlers on the Awá territories and preserve the Amazonian rain forest. On July 15, Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said of the military operation, "Brazil has taken a promising first step towards saving the world’s most threatened tribe, and it’s thanks to the many thousands of Awá supporters worldwide. This is proof that public opinion can effect change. However, the battle is not yet won: the authorities must not stop until all illegal invaders are gone."


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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