The city of Rio de Janeiro is home to 6 million people with approximately 1.5 million residents living in favelas. These residential communities, named after the favela trees native to the region, are commonly misunderstood by outsiders. Although 32% of favela residents belong to the lower-class, a 2013 study found that 85% of people residing in favelas like where they live. Some favelas have high crime rates, but many are high-functioning, self-governing communities.
On 1 June 2009, the global environmental advocacy organization Greenpeace released the findings of a 3-year undercover investigation of the Brazilian cattle industry. The report, “Slaughtering the Amazon,” traced the convoluted supply chain of leather and beef products from cattle ranches to the recent and illegal deforestation in the state of Pará at the heart of the Amazon rainforest.
Brazilian Indigenous protest construction of Belo Monte Dam on Xingu River in Brazilian Amazon, 2008-2011
During the 1970s, when Brazil was ruled by a military dictatorship, the proposal of building several hydroelectric dams on the Xingu River was first presented. These dams were suggested as a way to increase energy supply to Brazil. The location of these proposed dams, along the Xingu River, was within the Brazilian Amazon in the region of Para, Brazil. The proposal was eventually put on hold, due to controversy regarding the dams’ potential location on idigenous land.
Brazilian Rubber Tappers campaign to protest the deforestation of the Brazilian rainforest region, 1977-1988
For centuries, those who made a living by extracting and collecting rubber from rubber trees had been virtual slaves to the powerful rubber barons who controlled the Amazon region. Attempts were made in the 1960s to unionize these workers, called “rubber tappers;” however, these attempts failed. The 1970s marked a shift in the dynamics of the extraction of resources from the Amazon. Ranchers from Southern Brazil began to buy up huge tracts of land in order to clear them for cattle grazing land.