Filed under: Action, Development, Environment, Indigenous, Midwest
Report from recent anti-Line 3 pipeline action in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – On Thursday – Halloween – evening, Minnesotans protested at the house of David MacLennan, the chief executive officer of Cargill, the multinational agriculture commodities trader based in Wayzata, MN. Protesters organized with Northfield Against Line 3 staged a “funeral for the earth,” stressing the role of Cargill in the ongoing destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Across huge expanses of the Brazilian Amazon and the adjacent Cerrado savannah, fires continue to rage.
“I’m here to fight for the planet and Indigenous rights,” said Michelle Wenderlich. “Cargill is a commodities trader, and they trade in embargoed Brazilian soy and beef which comes from illegally deforestated areas that directly threaten the existence, rights, and land of Indigenous people.”
Brazil’s economy has long relied on agriculture commodity exports. It is one of the world’s biggest producers of soy and beef. Cargill is one of the major commodities traders that trades with Brazilian agroindustry actors and works with financial institutions such as JPMorgan Chase and BlackRock that provide foreign capital. In the pursuit of profits, Cargill facilitates the destruction of the Amazon for soy and beef production.
Cargill has previously “pledged to eliminate deforestation” and committed to cleaning up its supply chains. In July 2019, the advocacy group Mighty Earth reported that Cargill’s trading remains “closely associated with deforestation.” In 2018, Cargill was among a handful of multinational companies fined millions for buying soy from land that had been embargoed for illegal deforestation in Brazil.
Protesters drew attention to the role of David MacLennan in determining Cargill’s policies. In a speech outside MacLennan’s house, Revmira Beeby said that “Corporations are just intangible entities. It’s the handful of top executives and the Cargill family in charge of Cargill that are directly responsible for Cargill’s policies. CEO David MacLennan is personally responsible for the burning of the Amazon rainforest and the threatening of Indigenous peoples and their land. Cargill’s corruption and inaction is what brings us here – outside the home of MacLennan to hold him accountable.”
2019 has seen a record number of wildfires raging in protected areas of the Brazilian Amazon, with the Kayapó and Munduruku indigenous territories among the worst hit. The fires are no accident. The Bolsonaro regime is actively encouraging guerilla farmers, loggers and miners to invade and burn indigenous territories so that they can be stolen for global commodities trading purposes such as with Cargill. This is part of an explicit campaign of indigenous genocide and ecocide. Bolsonaro has explicitly admitted that “the recognition of indigenous land is an obstacle to agribusiness.” 
To enact this agenda, Bolsonaro has rolled back environmental protections and attacked Indigenous peoples’ and Afro-Brazilians’ constitutionally-guaranteed right to the land. Spurred on by these actions, land grabbers and plantation owners working with Cargill have intentionally set wildfires to clear the forests. Cargill is working with the Bolsonaro regime and is purchasing from these embargoed areas, and is thus directly supporting this practice.
When asked about their role in organizing the event, Jonathan Chen said, “I’m with Northfield Against Line 3 and we organize against Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline in northern Minnesota. The issues echo each other: Enbridge is clear-cutting the proposed route ahead of necessary permits and without consent in Indigenous territories up north, and are threatening Indigenous peoples and their sovereignty. We see similar violence being waged by Cargill, which is why we organized this event in solidarity.”