I just returned from Brazil, where I visited partners in the Amazon states of Para and Mato Grosso. Before I get into the nitty-gritty, let me reflect on the big picture regarding the State of Para in Brazil. Para is clearly undergoing a dramatic and deep transformation. Only a few years ago, Para was a place I was afraid to travel to, a place where organized crime ruled and assassins were available for hire almost openly. It was known as the wild west of the Amazon—more so than any other place in the Amazon (the size of the continental US). Quite a few environmental or human rights activists had been killed or threatened. This is where in 2005 Sister Dorothy Stang was murdered in cold blood for standing up for the poor.
Today, more than half of the private lands are registered with the state and monitored, and organized crime has less of a stranglehold. In place of lawlessness and fear, one feels a real sense of pride emerging alongside a booming economy and increased governance. Para is not like it was in 2005; Para is not like it was 5 years ago. Para isn’t even like it was one year ago. read more