Environmental Activists Murdered in Brazil. (Environmental Intelligence)

By Larson, Vanessa | World Watch, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Environmental Activists Murdered in Brazil. (Environmental Intelligence)


Larson, Vanessa, World Watch


Between July and October, 2001, six rural environmental and labor activists were murdered in separate incidents in Brazil's northeast state of Para, and a number of their colleagues received death threats or found their names listed on an anonymously circulated "death list." Labor and environmental groups attribute the killings to powerful business and land owners in the region, who have employed contract killers in the past to eliminate political opponents. The most prominent instance was the 1988 murder of rubber tapper Chico Mendes by rancher Darci Alves, which brought international attention to Brazil's beleaguered environmental movement.

This recent spate of murders is part of a decades-long pattern of violence against environmental activists, farm-workers, and rural laborers in Brazil, where 1 percent of rural landowners own approximately 46 percent of agricultural land, while 4.8 million families have no land. A total of 1,517 rural workers were murdered in Brazil between 1988 and 2000, according to Brazil's Pastoral Land Commission.

One victim, anti-corruption campaigner Ademir Alfeu Federicci, founded and directed the Movement for the Development of the Trans-Amazon and the Xingu, a coalition of 113 indigenous, women's, religious, and environmental groups. Federicci had helped federal police investigate the former state governor, who embezzled public development funds and channeled money to ranching, logging, and other business interests. …

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