AUSTRIA - Companies profit from land grabbing in Brazil

In the following we want to share a report of the "Brazil Solidarity Initiative" from Austria about the Austrian capital interests in Brazil using the example of two companies. (own translation)


Austrian companies profit from land grabbing in Brazil

Around 200 Austrian companies and concerns have branches in Brazil. Among them are the two Upper Austrian corporations Voest Alpine and Lenzing AG. They boast of buzzwords such as sustainability and climate neutrality, but profit from land grabbing and deforestation.

Voest Alpine operates no fewer than five sites in Brazil, including its Profilform branch. This produces tubes and profiles and has significantly expanded its monopoly position with the plants in Brazil, among other things. Not only that, but the stainless steel subsidiary Böhler-Uddeholm has been exploiting Brazil for more than 80 years and with a production of 88 million tons of special steel and sales of $437 million has become the largest special steel producer in all of Latin America. Among other things, they supply vehicle manufacturers, which also serve the profit interests of foreign corporations. In 2004, the Voest subsidiary took over the "local" stainless steel group Villares Metals Insumarè near Campinas, from the Spanish (!) Sidenor Group, which once again shows that the Brazilian economy is largely firmly in the hands of foreign groups.

The situation is no different with the Lenzing Group, the Upper Austrian fiber manufacturer. Those does not hold back on having "conquered a strategically important market with production in Brazil" and also boasts of "climate neutrality" and sustainability. Stefan Doboczky, Chairman of the Management Board of the Lenzing Group, says: "Strategically, we are still fully on track and the implementation of the key projects in Brazil and Thailand continues to proceed according to plan. With our corporate priorities, we are consistently pursuing a major goal, namely to realize a CO2 emission-free future." However, they can only realize their production through the "consistent" exploitation of the Brazilian population, their resources and, above all, through the theft of land. They are supported in this by the wood producer Duratex, which is the eighth largest wood producer in the world and the largest wood producer in Latin America. Duratex will assist Lenzig in supplying mainly land and forest property! One of the reasons for the "smooth" land acquisition (Lenzing's new plant is 44,000 hectares!) is that the Brazilian parliament is made up of one third representatives of the agro-business sector. The Minister of Agriculture herself previously worked in the agro-industry ( agriculture/wood industry).

The centrality of the struggle for land is further illustrated by the fact that the agro-industry is considered the "most powerful" sector, both economically and politically. The Austrian company Lenzing is preening itself, producing "cleanly", but using resources that have been stolen from the Brazilian population and are being defended in a bloody way. The state in which it produces, Minas Gerais, has historically been an important area of movement and struggle for poor and landless peasants.

These corporations benefit from governments that accept everything, including numerous lives of their own people, in order to serve foreign capital interests. The land theft, the expulsion and persecution of poor peasants, are closely related to the "success stories" of Austrian concerns as well!