José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo,were shot and killed last week in an ambush near their home in the Brazilian rainforest. Da Silva was a leader in defending the rainforest from illegal loggers, and knew that his life was under threat. Since their assassinations, yet another Brazilian environmentalist has been brutally murdered: Adelino Ramos, a land reform leader in the Amazon state of Rondonia, which borders Bolivia, was shot down. Like the Silvas, he also denounced those who illegally cut the rain forest.
The recent deaths add 3 more names to the list of over 1,150 rural conservationists who have been slain in land conflicts across Brazil in the past 20 years. The murders are carried out by gunmen hired by loggers, ranchers and farmers to silence those who protest illegal cutting of the forest, although few of the perpetrators are prosecuted.
Here is Mr. da Silva speaking at a TED Amazonia conference last November. His words are an indictment against his murderers, and shine as an inspiration to those of us still able to take a stand for the Eaarth:
“I can be here today talking with you, and a month from now you know what could happen to me – disappeared. Ask me if I am scared. I am afraid. I am a human being. I have fear. But my fear won’t let me be quiet. As long as I have the power to walk I will be denouncing those who are harming the forest.”
It is up to those of us still here to work for change, so that José , Maria, and Adelino’s deaths are not in vain. We won’t all make a difference in the same way, but each of us can do something. For practical steps to take in your every day life, go to my Action Not Apathy page.
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