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Week of 3.6.09

Who Killed Sister Dorothy?

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How could a struggle over land lead to the brutal murder of an American nun?

This week, David Brancaccio interviews award-winning filmmaker Daniel Junge on his latest film "They Killed Sister Dorothy." The documentary focuses on Sister Dorothy Stang, a Catholic nun from Dayton, Ohio, who in 2005 was killed on a muddy road in the Brazilian Amazon she worked tirelessly to save. But it's also the story of peasant farmers hoping to preserve their way of life in the face of powerful industry interests. Who will dare stand up in the battle between the haves and the have nots, and will our world's ecosystem pay the biggest price?

"Peasant people...don't have a chance to share in the riches that the planet can offer because some people are taking off so much of the pleasures of this world, and there's only so much to go around," Sister Dorothy said before her death.

Clips: They Killed Sister Dorothy'
Video iconClips: "They Killed Sister Dorothy"
Watch clips from "They Killed Sister Dorothy" on HBO on March 25.
Related Links

Film Website—"They Killed Sister Dorothy"

Greenpeace: Amazon Cattle Footprint (pdf)

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Viewer Comments

Commenter: Elrush
Things that are environmentally friendly seem to disappear at a rapid rate! Several years ago, I watched (on T.V. News) someone that had invented synthetic tires in COLOR, no less. Evidently, someone bought them off because I have not been able to find any information about them since then. I believe the inventor was from Arizona. My whole family and the neighbors saw the news program and were excited about the prospects, but to no avail!

Commenter: MArshall B in Seattle
Sister Dorothy's murder is a tragic shame, but hardly surprising. The same greed that fueled the meltdown of Wall Street fuels the rape of the Amazon. Greed knows no moral.

Commenter: Gary Lee Howard
Make no mistake, the open violence against eco-friendly workers in Brazil is more than matched by structural violence for the same purposes in the United States. Just look at mountaintop and strip mining in our Appalachian coalfields or gauge the thrust toward urban sprawl even during the onset of a Depression. Even as homebuilding and business park development have come to a halt in Gaston County, NC (near Charlotte) I have recently observed the widespread clear stripping of trees and vegetation from large tracts of land for speculative reasons, and this at a time where chronic turbidity of the South Fork and Catawba Rivers is of increasing alarm. Between concerned people and the destructive and irreversible activity stands realty interests and property rights oriented county commissioners. They deny us walking trails and mass transit because such amenities may pass adjacent to holy "private propitty."
The mindset of the World Bank and the IMF emanates from elites in the US and Europe. Daniel Junge is naive if he believes ambiguous property rights are to blame. The former GATT economist Hernando de Soto makes the same error in his simple-minded book "The Mystery of Capital." If the powerful and connected dominate everything else then why would they not have hegemony over the titling of land? I tend to think that "the commons" (collective ownership, maybe under indigenous auspices) is the best defense of the environment. We should hope the later-comers to these problems not repeat the Western mistakes of enclosure: the "success ethic" and sacred large private ownership.

Commenter: Tina K.
Wow, great choice to interview Mr. Junge. It sounds like an extraordinary film and I anticipate seeing it.

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