Saturday, April 28, 2012

Murder of Two Environmentalists in the Amazon

Two rainforest activists were gunned down in May 2011. Activists claim that the murders are linked to the ongoing battle that pits environmentalists and small farmers seeking to protect the Amazonian rainforest, against landowners who want to expand their crops and cattle ranching there. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo, were killed on 24 May, six months after Ribeiro da Silva had predicted during an international environmental conference that he could be killed at any time. The activists were known for their vocal stance against illegal loggers, cattle ranchers and charcoal producers operating in Praia-Alta Piranheira, a remote Amazon settlement in Brazil's Para state, where they lived.

Nearly four months after the killings police in the Brazilian Amazon arrested two men. Police named the prisoners as José Rodrigues Moreira, who is accused of ordering the killings, and his brother Lindon Johnson Silva Rocha, who allegedly carried out the executions. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva told a TEDx conference in Manaus that he expected to be killed. "I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment," he said. Ribeiro da Silva's sister said, "We believe there are more people involved [in the murders]."

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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