“Terra Vermelha: bloodshed and destruction in the Brazilian Amazon”
“Terra Vermelha: bloodshed and destruction in the Brazilian Amazon” is a portrait of the modern day Brazilian Amazon, a place where social and humanitarian crises overlap with the ongoing destruction of the rainforest: the lungs of the earth.
In recent years, environmental destruction, rural and urban violence have reached unprecedented heights in the region.
The urban centres are amongst the most violent in the world, the result of rapid and uncontrolled urban expansion and drug wars from increased cocaine production as well as migrants brought by the crisis in neighbouring Venezuela and economic migrants to work on dams and other mega projects
The region is the deadliest in the world for land rights, environmental and Indigenous activists who are terrorized by land grabbers and violent extractive gangs in a violent grab for the region’s vast natural resources while poverty stricken illegal miners and loggers are employed in slave like conditions.
Scientists say the forest is reaching a tipping point after which it will not be able to recuperate. Deforestation feeds global markets for timber, beef, and soy and iron ore. Meanwhile, government and private sector infrastructure projects like dams and mines destroy rivers and habitats of indigenous people.
On the mighty Amazon River, pirates and drug gangs go to war, recently enlisting the help of Colombia’s FARC.
The Amazon crisis has been exacerbated in recent years as Brazil has bounced from political to economic crisis and seen resources to combat these ills slashed. With the rise of an increasingly powerful anti-environmental and human rights orientated congress and president, this is not a problem that is going away any time soon.
I have been working in region for the past four years, documenting the intersecting social and environmental crises in the states of Amazonas, Maranhao, Pará, Rondonia and Roraima. The portfolio covers all of these intersecting crises.
Deforestation, unregulated development, pollution, crime. All of these scenarios are driven by the same forces; poverty, weak institutions, corruption and savage self-interest. More than in other places, in the Amazon region it becomes clear that land is worth more than human life. And on the path towards the destruction of the planet, the first and closest step for mankind is still its own annihilation.