Monday, 22 December 2008

Brazil: Legacy of Chico Mendes

On the twentieth anniversary of the death of Brazilian environmentalist Chico Mendes, the Guardian offers a timely reminder that progress for activists in Brazil has been mixed. In spite of the relative safety of some of the Amazon reserves, sticking up for the forest and its traditional people is still a dangerous business: least 260 people, among them a Catholic bishop, live under the threat of murder because of their fight against a coalition of loggers, farmers and cattle ranchers.

The list names Frei Henri des Rosiers, a French priest based in the Amazon town of Xinguara, as a particular target. Police are investigating claims he has a £14,000 price on his head because of his fight against slave labour. Also named are Maria José Dias da Costa, a union leader in the remote town of Rondon do Pará, and an Austrian bishop, Dom Erwin Krautler, who has been under 24-hour police guard for two years because of his battle against developers and child prostitution in his Amazonian diocese.

In February this year, Francisco da Silva, a 51-year-old leader of the landless movement in the Amazon, was killed with a single shot to the head. He had been named in a previous CPT report about rural leaders receiving death threats.

Hundreds of Brazil's eco-warriors at risk of assassination, according to new report (Guardian)

More on Mendes:

Brazil remembers slain activist (BBC)

The life and legacy of Chico Mendes (BBC)

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