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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 11:07 GMT
Brazil landless blockade railway
Protesters block the railway line on 10 March in Minas Gerais
The protest halted the transport of iron ore for export
Hundreds of landless farmers in Brazil blockaded a railway operated by mining giant Vale for several hours.

The demonstrators occupied the line in the state of Minas Gerais to protest against the construction of a dam by Vale and a partner company.

They left after Vale obtained a court order to have them removed.

The action comes amid a widening campaign by landless groups to target major agricultural businesses and multinationals over a range of issues.

Several hundred protesters, led by activist groups Via Campesina and MST, occupied the railway in the town of Resplendor on Monday.


The demonstrators said they were protesting against a hydroelectric dam built by Vale and an energy company that had, they said, displaced more than 2,000 people.

Vale, the world's biggest exporter of iron ore, said the blockade prevented the transport of some 300,000 tonnes of iron ore to port.

The company said the action was "a criminal act of extreme violence", accusing demonstrators of destroying railway signals.

Vale said the protesters' demands had no relation to the company and should be resolved by the federal and state governments.

"Clearly there is a movement forming in Brazil to use Vale as an instrument to publicise and pressure," said Vale corporate affairs director Tito Martins, according to Reuters news agency.

In the past, groups that represent landless rural workers focused on occupying farmland they regarded as unproductive, says the BBC's Gary Duffy in Sao Paulo.

But their actions have been increasingly aimed at businesses, he says.

In a protest earlier this month, protesters invaded property to destroy genetically modified crops.

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