Prominent Brazilian Rainforest Activist And Wife Murdered

A prominent Brazilian conservationist and his wife have been killed in the Amazon region, police have said.

They said Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo were ambushed near their home in Nova Ipixuna, in Para state, near the city of Maraba. The bodies of the couple were found inside the nature reserve, Praialta-Piranheira, where they had been working for the past 24 years.

Repeated Death Threats

The government has ordered an immediate investigation and promised to catch those responsible for the deaths of Mr Da Silva and his wife.

It turns out that the environmentalist had repeatedly warned of death threats against him by loggers and cattle ranchers, but had never received police protection.

“My Fear Does Not Silence Me”

From The Guardian:

In a speech at a TEDx event in Manaus, in November, Da Silva spoke of his fears that loggers would try to silence him. “I could be here today talking to you and in one month you will get the news that I disappeared. I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment … because I denounce the loggers and charcoal producers, and that is why they think I cannot exist. [People] ask me, ‘are you afraid?’ Yes, I’m a human being, of course I am afraid. But my fear does not silence me. As long as I have the strength to walk I will denounce all of those who damage the forest.”

Roberto Smeraldi, founder and director of the environmental group Amigos da Terra, who worked with Da Silva in the Amazon, said he had been in a meeting with Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, discussing changes to the forest code when the news broke of Da Silva being killed. “He was convinced he would be killed one day,” Smeraldi said. He added that Da Silva had been “very active” in the fight against illegal forest burning and logging. According to Brazilian media reports, Rousseff has asked her chief of staff, Gilberto Carvalho, to offer support to the murder investigation.

New Forest Code For Brazil

The BBC reports that news of the deaths came just hours before Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies voted on changes to the existing Forest Code. The new bill, which now needs approval from the Senate and President Dilma Rousseff, reduces the amount of land farmers must keep as forest.

A 2008 report compiled by Brazilian human rights groups listed Da Silva as one of dozens of Amazon human rights and environmental activists “considered at risk” of assassination.

“My fear does not silence me. As long as I have the strength to walk I will denounce all of those who damage the forest.” Da Silva’s words are inspiration for all of us.


Photo Credit: accosta via Creative Commons

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Kayla Kuczynski
Kayla Wolfheart4 years ago

Quite right. STOP EATING BURGERS, make sure of your paper sources. don't buy products made from hardwoods. stay away from palm oil.REUSE EVERYTHING & THEN RECYCLE IT.That way there will no longer be a market for rain forest destruction. Our money determines the future of our planets lungs. Take responsibility and action NOW, and their deaths will not be in vain. I cry more for the loss of the trees than for these brave and noble individuals. LIVE ETHICALLY!

monica r.
monica r.4 years ago

As far as I'm aware, if you eat fast food burgers, you paid for this. That's where the meat goes, and the grain exports to feed cattle here, also. So either way, we paid the hit men.

I think there was a stat of acres per burger but can't find it now.

Janet S.
Past Member 4 years ago

If all readers here want to help the forests, waters, and air, then decrease your consumption of everything. Make as much of your own goods as possible from the simplest materials, and do not be fooled by labels that claim environmental protection - be sure your really know. Examine every material good you want to buy each and every day, before making the decision, and ask yourself, who and what has died for this?

Robert O.
Robert O.4 years ago

So tragic. I can only hope that justice will be served on all the horrible people that did committed the murders and anybody else involved.

Ruth R.
Ruth R.4 years ago

It is sad that this happened. May all who knew them be comforted when they grieve in safe places.

When the corn plant dies, many seeds are scattered and go into the fertile ground. May they grow up to be wonderful knew corn plants -- non gmo, organic, and diverse.

Pat Vee
Pat Vee4 years ago

Their fears will not silence them,it did not, and they paid the ultimate price,for their beliefs.How sad a loss .

jennifer curtis
jennifer curtis4 years ago

every murder should be brought to justice

Janine Hofmann
Janine H.4 years ago

Very sad news :(

Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

The nun was Dorothy Stang, 2005 I think, also in Brazil.

Myron Scott
Myron Scott4 years ago

Just like Dian Fossey and of course Chico Mendes, tragically among others. Such vile greed and cowardice.