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Kampa People Seek Protection

TWO members of the 30,000 Kampa people were in Brasilia recently asking for protection from white squatters who threaten their livelihood. The Kampa live in Brazil's far western state of Acre, and in eastern Peru.Moises Pianko, who lives in a 300-person community in the region, says in a telephone interview, that 12 families of squatters on Kampa lands "cut wood to sell it, hunt with dogs, and clear virgin forest." By contrast, the Kampa grow only rice, corn, manioc (a root), and bananas, and refrain from clearing new fields. They also hunt, but cannot compete with the white settlers' guns and dogs for wild game, which is becoming scarce. They grow coca leaves for their own use, he says, and are afraid whites wil l involve them in the drug trade. "This hurts us a lot. We'll end up with nothing if they take it all away," adds Mr. Pianko. The Kampa have asked the Brazilian government to investigate their complaints, and to send the federal police in to convince the squatters to leave them alone. "This will degenerate into a violent conflict soon," says Margaret Mendes, an anthropologist who accompanied the Kampa in Brasilia. "There is a lot of verbal aggression. I've seen [the squatters] making death threats." The World Wildlife Foundation, the Gaia Foundation, and Brazil's environmental secretariat paid the Kampas' air travel and lodging expense in Brasilia.

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