Friends of the Earth accuses Stora Enso of buying political influence in Brazil
Company says supporting politicians is legal
The environmental advocacy group Friends of the Earth Finland is accusing the forest company Stora Enso of inappropriate behaviour in Brazil in its land acquisition activities in the state of Rio Grande do Sul.
The organisation’s spokeswoman Noora Ojala says that Stora Enso has donated money for the election campaign of the state’s governor Yeda Crusium in exchange for favourable decisions by the state’s authorities. Ojala says that pulp manufacturers supported Crusium to the tune of EUR 200,000.
At an event organised on in Helsinki on Thursday by Friends of the Earth and Friends of the Landless, Ojala said that the support smacks of corruption.
Stora Enso owns half of the Veracel pulp mill in Brazil, and the company is planning to expand its pulp business, which means that the company needs more land. The raw material for pulp in Brazil is cultivated eucalyptus.
The two NGOs say that land acquisition has not been without problems. Last spring police in Brazil broke up a demonstration by women of the Landless Workers’ Movement at a Stora Enso wood plantation in Rio Grande do Sul.
The women had taken over a plot of land of one hectare, cutting eucalyptus seedlings. Police broke up the demonstration using clubs and rubber bullets. Sixty demonstrators were injured in the clash.
Noora Ojala says that the police were called in by Stora Enso, which knows that Brazilian police are in the habit of using tough measures against demonstrators.
At Stora Enso, Eija Pitkänen, the company’s head of sustainability, denies that Stora Enso had called in the police to evict the demonstrators.
“We did not call the police, and we have apologised for the incident”, she says.
Stora Enso has put forward a request concerning possible new demonstrations. “If something like this happens on our land, the people there can be at peace.”
Supporting politicians in Brazil is a lawful activity that takes place in public. “It is how things are done in the country, and it is not corruption”, she says.
Pitkänen would not say if she thinks that not taking part in political campaigns would harm the company. She emphasises that donations are made to candidates of many different parties.
Brasil Landless Workers Movement
Friends of the Earth Finland
Stora Enso press release: NGOs against Stora Enso’s operations in Brazil