Belo Monte :
Chief Raoni's petition

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Press release : Chief RAONI’s last stand

Press release : Chief RAONI’s last stand

Back in Europe (May 3-17, 2010) for the very last time, Kayapo Chief RAONI, great defender of the Amazon rainforest, will seize the opportunity to promote his memoirs, ’Raoni, Mémoires d’un chef Indien’ (Editions du Rocher), to call for help against the Belo Monte dam complex and relaunch the pilot project for an Institute bearing his name.

Revealed to the public in a 1978 Academy Award nominee documentary directed by Jean-Pierre Dutilleux and narrated by Marlon Brando, RAONI acquired full international stature in 1989, during an awareness raising campaign in 15 countries around the world. In 1993, the many donations collected worldwide by the local branches of the ‘Association pour la Forêt Vierge’ allowed for the demarcation of the current Kayapo reserve. Between the years 2000 and 2001, with the support of French President Jacques Chirac, RAONI returned to France to once again bring the increasing destruction of the Amazon rainforest to the public’s attention and initiate the construction of a flagship Institute project bearing his name. After high hopes, the project was put on hold following the events of September 11, 2001.


The Raoni Institute: a project led by the French NGO, ‘Association pour la Forêt Vierge’.

Spread across the Brazilian States of Mato Grosso and Pará, the Kayapo reserve was demarcated and formalized in a 1993 presidential decree. Combined with the Xingu National Park and the Panará reserve, it is the largest rainforest reserve in the world, spreading over 195 000 km2. Its surface is equal to the size of the State of Florida or a third that of France.

Nowadays, despite the official demarcation, the area is increasingly threatened by logging, mining, agro business companies and the Belo Monte dam project. After two years of research and consultation with the Indians, the Brazilian National Foundation of the Indian (FUNAI), the French Group for Research and Technology (GRET) and the Association pour la Forêt Vierge, an Institute project is being developed in the Xingu River region to ensure the sustainability of this territory. In the last few days, chief Raoni secured a tremendous support from the general public, the media and various personalities. Among them, the support of ex French President Jacques Chirac, Prince Albert II of Monaco and their respective foundations.

* Following RAONI’s initiative, that of several other Indian tribal chiefs and celebrities concerned with the massive deforestation in the Amazon, the Association pour la Forêt Vierge was founded in 1989. It aims to preserve the Amazon rainforest and the indigenous tribes who live there.

Date : 25/05/2010

Author : Gert-Peter BRUCH