Rainforest activist reported killed months after predicting own disappearance


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José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva had predicted his own murder six months before he was killed and received frequent death threats. Photo courtesy of Lou Gold/Guardian.co.uk

MELBOURNE, Australia (26 May, 2011)_An advocate for sustainable use of Amazonian rainforests has been killed, just months after predicting he would be ‘disappeared’ for his views on illegal logging.

José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo, were reported killed in an ambush on or around May 23 2011, near their home in Nova Ipixuna, in Pará state, Brazil.

In a TED lecture in Manaus, Brazil in 2010, Da Silva admitted he was in constant danger.

“I live from the forest and will protect her by any means,” he said,

“For this…  I live with (the prospect of) a bullet in my head at any time.

“I stand up, I denounce the loggers, I denounce the charcoal makers and for this they think that I can’t exist.”

Six months after that talk, Da Silva was reported dead, bringing to an end a life devoted to the forest and preserving it, while striving for the promotion of economic activity.

In his talk, Da Silva, a traditional forest worker from the age of seven, focused more of the threat of his home forests becoming deserts than of his own demise.

“There used to be 85 per cent of the original forest canopy, with cashew nuts and cacao.. in 2010, there was 20 per cent of the canopy left”

“I am adding value to the forest.  The forest must be saved any way we can because everything in the forest is productive and bring money.”

Da Silva closed his 2010 talk with a stark image of a desert, warning that that was the end result illegal logging and burning.

It is currently unknown who may be behind the attack, but 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.

See Da Silva’s TED talk (English Subtitles)


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