Three Indigenous Nations in Altamira area, Para, signed REDD contracts with an untrustworthy individual, Benedito Millleo Junior, representative fromTopoGeo.Tuesday, March 27th, 2012
By Rebecca Sommer
I was in the city of Altamira, the Amazon area in the state of Para, preparing to leave the next day. It was with a knot in my throat when I promised the young chief of one of the three indigenous nations in this area that had signed REDD contracts, not to reveal their identity.
For years I have tried to inform indigenous peoples about the lies and wrongs that one day soon they will be told in order to obtain their consent for REDD projects on their indigenous territory.
But it is indeed a very abstract issue, and unfortunately, my explanation had no effect on this particular young chief, and other young leaders that were standing in a circle around me, with their REDD contract signed, in their hand, in June 2011.
They were worried, thus the reason why they approached me with the contract. They trusted me enough to allow me to photograph it. (To view the original contract in Portuguese with the names that could identify the indigenous nation removed CLICK HERE)
The young leaders wanted to know what the contract actually said, as they admitted, it wasn’t exactly clear to them.
The first thing that I spotted was that the contract was signed by an individual and not by a company. Benedito Milleo Junior.
The chief showed me Benedito Milleo Junior’s business card.
[TopoGeo | Surveying and Geo-referenced GIS | Annotation Legal Reserve IBAMA and IAP | Accredited at INCRA under Code APO | Benedito Milleo Junior | Agronomist | Federal Judicial Expert | CREA 13.062/D-PR]
I asked the young leaders why they thought he had signed as an individual, while they had to sign with their positions, under their Indigenous Association.
They did not know why.
I ask them if they knew this (sinister) gentlemen, and asked about the location of his companies’ office.
“He lives in a rather shabby house in Altamira, with no sign or logo of his company. We wondered about that. But he promised to pay us a lot of the money in June 2012.” said the young chief.
However, when we went to the location, the neighbors informed us that the carbon cowboy and his assistant had vacated the house, and that we were not the first ones to look for them.
The neighbors said many small landowners would come every day, with the goal to sign “the contract that would make them rich”. Further, during the time Mr. Benedito Milleo Junior from TopoGeo had resided next door, hundreds of contracts had been signed in the region, and sometimes there had been a line of waiting folks, in front of Benedito Juniors’ house, that was in a shabby condition, with paint peeling off of it.
The second issue I raised with the indigenous young leaders was the language of the contract, the way it was actually written. I told them that Portuguese is not my mother language, but the text was confusing, without comas and proper punctuation, in my view leaving some sentences seriously unclear.
I told them that I am not a lawyer, but that in my view important parts have been left out in the contract, such as who will pay whom. I couldn’t find clear articulation who would pay them. This articulation was left out by Mr. Benedito Milleo Junior.
However, what was not left out in the contract was that the indigenous nation was charged for all the costs. Including the costs of the project and the costs that the broker, Mr. Junior himself would incur. Do these costs include promotion of the sale of carbon credits, his office expenses, travel costs, gasoline, utilities website administration and whatnot?
I asked them to imagine what he could charge them for, as this wasn’t clarified in the contract.
“We don’t know, he didn’t say,” responded the young chief, while the others were looking down, poking their toes in the sand.
I told them that in my view this man is a criminal, and that they will not only not receive any payments, but also won’t be able to trace the carbon credits sold on behalf of their forest.
I explained to them the problems of REDD, the lies and wrongs, but to no effect.
“We wait for June 2012, and hope he will pay,” they said. “And please, stick to your promise and don’t reveal our identity.”
I wasn’t able to meet the Elders and the traditional chief of this indigenous nation, to which I had the year before explained the problems with REDD, with not only the young chiefs present, but that of the entire community. Yet I firmly believe that I know what the Elders and old chief would have told me.
I have attempted to translate the contract from Portuguese to English as accurately as possible. It is as follows:(download original here)
PRIVATE CONTRACT TO PROVIDE PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL SERVICES AND PARTNERSHIP FOR CARBON CREDIT AND AVOIDED DEFORESTATION
For this particular instrument of RENDERED PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL SERVICES, that makes one side the prominent CONTRACTOR: BENEDITO MILLEO JUNIOR, Brazilian citizen, married, agronomist, holder of identity card RG. No1.494.076-6-SSP-PR and CPF / MF. under the 320838409-25, resident Marechal Candido Rondon Street No 911, center, GUAIRA-PR.,
On the other hand the prospective Contracted: INDIGENOUS ASSOCIATION XXXXXX, Civil Society, CNPJ XXXX XXXXXX Location In the municipality of Rio XXX ALTAMIRA, to the State. THE AREA WITH A TOTAL OF XXXX HECTARES, THE INDIGENOUS LAND XXXX, Located in the municipality of ALTMAIRA, state PARA.
1) THE CONTRACTOR AND THE CONTRACTED will receive on both sides the importance of 50% (FIFTY PERCENT) FOR EACH OF CARBON CREDITS SOLD IN THE Stock Exchange OF CHICAGO - U.S. and or STOCK EXCHANGE LONDON - ENGLAND, NATIONAL BANKS OR INTERNATIONAL BANKS or anyone interested in Buying, AND THE COSTS ON BEHALF OF THE PROJECT AND PLACEMENT FOR SALE IS ON ACCOUNT OF THE CONTRACTEE, AND THE PROJECT OF CARBON CREDIT and avoided deforestation, the OWNER agrees to not deforest THE AREA OF THE PROJECT BEING THE TOTAL OF NATIVE FOREST DETERMINED IN THE UPDATED SATELITE PICTURE OF THE ABOVE CITED PROPERTY, GEOREFERENCED ACCORDING TO INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS, ON BEHALF OF CONTRACTEE THE AMOUNT OF RS 4,000,000.00 (Four million dollars) paid WHEN RECEIVING THE 1rst part of the payment of Carbon Credit and Avoided Deforestation. The contracted shall pay 10% (ten percent) INCOME TAX and 10 (ten percent) BROKERS COMMISSION FOR THE SALE OF CARBON CREDITS. FOR THE PERIOD OF 25 (TWENTY FIVE) YEARS. THEIR SUCCESSORS SHALL COMPLY WITH THIS AGREEMENT, IF THE TERM IS EXTENDED BY 40 (FORTY YEARS) OR HIGHER THIS CONTRACTS DEADLINE EXTENDED
2) Therefore we are under contract, having signed this particular instrument in two identical copies and form
ALTAMIRA - PA, JUNE 28, 2011
CONTRACTOR - JUNIOR BENEDITO MILLEO
PRESIDENT OF THE INDIGENOUS XXXX
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE INDIGENOUS XXXX
VICE PRESIDENT OF THE INDIGENOUS XXXX