The Greenpeace Effect

Environmental advocates claim they just want loggers to play by the rules. But Brazilian mahogany barons, local lumber lords, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the Port of Miami all want these tree-huggers stopped

Gadflies don't make a lot of friends. Paulo Adario knows. A bustling man with a wiry build, intense emerald eyes, and flecks of gray in his beard, Adario has spent most of the past three years wearing a bulletproof vest and fending off death threats with the help of bodyguards. As director of the Greenpeace office in the city of Manaus, deep in the Amazon jungle, the 55-year-old Brazilian oversees the environmental organization's campaign to halt the illegal logging of big-leaf mahogany. "Only drugs have that incredible variation of value," Adario points out. No wonder there are people in the timber industry who would like to see him dead.

Adario doesn't fear for his life as he sips a cup of cafecito on this April morning at Raffi's outdoor cafe on Collins Avenue, but the matter at hand seems almost as urgent. "It's upside down," the activist marvels. "The people working to enforce the law are now being prosecuted by the law." Adario arrived in South Beach this morning along with Hamilton Casara, the former president of Brazil's environmental protection agency IBAMA, who now represents the state of Rondônia in the Brazilian congress. The immense man with a soft voice, shy smile, and skin nearly as dark as the wood he protects signed into Brazilian law a moratorium on the mahogany trade in October 2001. "We are grateful to Greenpeace for helping us preserve the forests," relays the first-term congressman. Now he says he has come to Miami to support Greenpeace in turn: "It's very important to defend democratic principles."

Hillary Hosta agrees. The blond, six-foot-tall massage therapist calmly carving up a vegetarian omelet was convicted of illegally boarding the APL Jade, a merchant vessel that Greenpeace suspected of mahogany smuggling, three miles out from the Port of Miami in April 2002. The smugglers got away, but the activists were charged with breaking an 1872 law that hadn't been implemented in more than a hundred years. The sparse case law on record suggests the statute, which forbids unauthorized persons from boarding a ship about to arrive at its destination, was originally written to keep shady characters from luring sailors to houses of ill repute on shore. That June, Hosta and the other activists hit with the charge pled no contest. Case closed. Then thirteen months later a federal grand jury indicted Greenpeace USA for the same crime, accusing the organization itself of conspiracy to commit "sailor-mongering." As silly as the charge may sound, the impact of a conviction could be quite serious.

From top, upper left: Paulo Adario tracks the 
mahogany trade; Hillary Hosta and Scott Anderson 
board the APL Jade as Greenpeace boats buzz about 
the vessel; Hosta contemplates her duty as a U.S. 
citizen
Top left and bottom: Jonathan Postal; All others C
From top, upper left: Paulo Adario tracks the mahogany trade; Hillary Hosta and Scott Anderson board the APL Jade as Greenpeace boats buzz about the vessel; Hosta contemplates her duty as a U.S. citizen

While Hosta and the Brazilians finish their breakfast, the Greenpeace legal team convenes across the causeway in a windowless conference room at a Brickell Avenue law firm. There's local attorney Jane Moscowitz; Greenpeace general counsel Thomas Wetterer, who has come down from Washington, D.C., with two other lawyers; Greenpeace International sent a consultant from London as well. The team sits in black high-backed chairs and sifts through stacks of documents to prepare for a trial before Judge Adalberto Jordan in a Miami courtroom in May. If the jury finds Greenpeace USA guilty, the organization faces five years' probation and a fine up to $10,000 that could increase every time anyone in the group engages in civil disobedience. Adario's U.S. allies could be effectively shut down.


When the Search and Rescue alarm sounded at 2:15 p.m. on April 12, 2002, Seaman Darrin Grant ran for his gun belt and gear. The radio at the Miami Beach Coast Guard station reported that two Greenpeace activists had illegally boarded a commercial freighter in Biscayne Bay. Boatswain Mate Second Class David Ramirez briefed his crew, then sped past the jetties on Government Cut as fast as the 41-foot USCG utility boat allowed. There the Coast Guard saw three tugboats preparing to tow in the APL Jade. Three smaller boats, carrying flags that read "Save the Amazon" and "Stop Illegal Logging," buzzed about the freighter.

Flipping on police lights and siren, Ramirez chased a gray Greenpeace dinghy, but he could not keep pace with the agile eighteen-foot Avon. So Ramirez radioed for backup, then switched course to pursue a smaller red inflatable. The Zodiac's operator immediately obeyed a command to follow the Coast Guard boat to dock at the station. When Ramirez returned to the scene, he saw a small Sea Ray idling near the Jade while a photographer onboard snapped pictures. The Sea Ray's skipper also followed Ramirez to the station without flight or fight. By the third time the utility boat approached the Jade, a nimble 27-foot USCG safeboat had arrived, as had a Miami-Dade Police Marine Unit. The three police boats boxed in the Avon, and it was towed in on a skiff hook.

Below deck on the APL Jade, Greenpeace volunteers Hosta and Scott Anderson chatted with the freighter's chief officer, Cheang Wai Sun. Sun had discovered the pair scurrying up the pilot's ladder on the side of the ship and prevented them from hanging a banner that read "President Bush: Stop Illegal Logging." When Hosta left the ship, she gave the banner to Sun as a souvenir. Seaman Grant waited on the dock with handcuffs.

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