Heroes: José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo

Written By: - Date published: 8:53 am, May 29th, 2011 - 8 comments
Categories: activism, Conservation, International - Tags:

José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo are heroes. Like Chico Mendes before them, they have paid for their activism with their lives:

Amazon rainforest activist shot dead

José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva fought against illegal loggers and had received death threats but was refused police protection

Six months after predicting his own murder, a leading rainforest defender has reportedly been gunned down in the Brazilian Amazon. José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo, are said to have been killed in an ambush near their home in Nova Ipixuna, in Pará state, about 37 miles from Marabá.

According to a local newspaper, Diário do Pará, the couple had not had police protection despite getting frequent death threats because of their battle against illegal loggers and ranchers. …

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.”

The courage of people like Da Silva and Santo is humbling. Take a moment today to remember two heros.

Sometimes the world makes me angrier than I can possibly describe.

8 comments on “Heroes: José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo”

  1. ZeeBop 1

    The treasury secretary says if we have money we have more choices to protect the environment. So if we chop down the forests, we have more money to protect the environment.
    Its unfortunate that the lofty heights of bureaucracy have no debates with the Greens, they might be more careful about their leadership of our country in the advice and directives they give government.

    We should dig up in DOC land because with the money we can save DOC land. Wow.

  2. uke 2

    If and when mining of DOC land begins – I expect we will see the NZ Army being used as protection for mining corporations in much the same way as the NZ Navy is for Petrobras. Interesting times ahead.

  3. prism 3

    José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espírito Santo are heroes

    When one of this special band of people dedicated to the ideals of respect and care for each other and the environment is lost we suffer that loss even if we are unaware of them and their work.
    Two brave people have died after foreseeing their own deaths from vested interests destroying a nurturing environment for their gain causing others’ loss. I only hope that the death meted out was quick and relatively painless.

  4. Afewknowthetruth 4

    Governments around the world have three prime roles:

    1. to facilitate the looting of natural resources by global corporations

    2. to promote the agendas of money-lenders

    3. to the keep the general populace misinformed and deluded.

    It has been that way for over 400 years.

    Needless to say, we are fast approaching the point of global environmental collpase, now that such a large portion of natural systems have been degraded or destroyed. Global corporation love disasters, of course: disasters provide further opportunities for profiteering.

    Military, police and privately-hired security forces are the main agents for enforcing this insane and dysfunctional system on the sane and functional.

    Just look at what has happenined in Spain recently: a large, peaceful group of young people who have had the rug pulled from under them by a succession of corrupt governments gets attacked and beaten by police. As Midnight Oil put it many years ago: “If you disagree, you get annihilated.”

    That’s the system. And it rather looks as though it will continue until there is nothing left for the wealthy to steal from the poor.

  5. Descendant Of Smith 5

    Having had family who fought against logging in this country and who also received death threats at the time it’s a sad day to see again activists fighting against the destruction of forests threatened and in this instance killed.

    It’s a reminder that opposition to mining and the cutting down of native forests in NZ is not just about NZ – what’s the point in allowing companies to mine here with tight controls and processes if the same companies are allowed to not follow those same tight safety controls and procedures elsewhere.

    The good news is that there are occasional victories:

    http://www.survivalinternational.org/news/6385

    Background video

    • uke 5.1

      That’s great news about the Dongria Kondh victory over the Vedanta corporation. Thanks for the link.

  6. Tigger 6

    Thanks for posting this. I agree, this is humbling stuff. And inspiring. “my fear does not silence me”.

  7. HC 7

    This is just one sad aspect of the dark side of what goes on in so-called fast developing “emerging markets”. This is the mantra we hear daily about the great new growing middle class with more wealth and ability to buy our agricultural and other products. Due to lack of law enforcement, wide-spread corruption and “wild west” conditions the environment gets plundered, people exploited and killed and we never hear about this in our main media.

    I read about this first on Al Jazeera English a day or so ago. Also is there another developing story about the rural Aymara indians in southeastern Peru blockading traffic of trucks on major highways between Bolivia and Peru, because they oppose a leading Canadian mining company planning to mine for silver there.

    The Peruvian government apparently makes contracts with such overseas companies and does not bother consulting local communities about the mining projects. So peasants and farmers fear for their land and water sources going to be polluted as a consequence.

    We get fed all the great economic news about these countries, but little about at what costs the present growth is achieved.

    My greatest respect for these two activists and steadfast defenders of their rights!

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