In Brazil, Murder of Activists Underscores Bitter Fight over Amazon’s Resources

The mega-dam on Xingu River would cause the disappearance of entire species of birds, reptiles, and fish, and displace tens of thousands of people.

BY KAREN HOFFMANN – JULY 5, 2011

Locals Say Timing of Killings and Approval of Belo Monte Dam Far From Random

“The forest cries,” read a sign at the funeral of José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and Maria do Espirito Santo. The Amazon activists had been murdered, execution-style, by unknown assailants, less than 24 hours after Brazil’s lower house of congress voted to roll back forest protections.

Chillingly, Silva had predicted his own death at a TEDx talk in Manaus six months earlier. He had been receiving threats from loggers in the area of his home near Nova Ipixuna, in the lawless Brazilian state of Para.

“I could be here today talking to you and in one month you will get the news that I disappeared,” Silva said. “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 the charcoal makers, and that is why they think I cannot exist.”

Two days after his murder, another activist and possible witness to him murder was killed. Soon after, Brazil’s environmental agency, IBAMA, approved construction of the controversial Belo Monte mega-dam on the Lower Xingu River in Pará.  (More at Earth Island Journal)

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