Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Forest Man by Mônica

Francisco Alves Mendes Filho, had just turned 44 on December 15, 1988, one week before being murdered. Chico Mendes received bullets in the chest in the backyard of his house in front of his wife and his sons. Chico Mendes born in the Brazilian state of Acre, in the “serigal” (rubber tapper settlement) called Porto Rico in Xapuri city. He started working as a rubber tapper when still a child. On December 22, 1988 he was murdered.
On December 9, 1988 the president of Rural Workers Union of Xapuri (Acre), Chico Mendes member of the Rubber Tapper National Council and internationally acknowledge by his ecological struggles, had been in Rio de Janeiro to participate in a round table. On that occasion, he said during an interview to a newspaper that he knew that he would be murdered and always asked the authorities for help.
In that time, Chico Mendes denounced that ranchers Darly and Alvarindo Alves threatened to kill him and had ordered the murder of more than 30 rural workers. On the same day, the congressman João Carlos Batista, from the Brazilian Socialist Party, declared in the Pará State Legislative Assembly that he too had received death threats. He was a lawyer for rural squatters and was murdered on that same night.
Chico Mendes learned to read when he was 20, until that time, he was illiterate. He studied hard. In 1975 he was already a leader and he was actively engaged in the rubber tappers’ fight against deforestation. He also organized several actions to defend the people’s right to land ownership. During that time, Chico Mendes was accused many times of inciting land workers to violence. He was already a target of evidence. But then it’s also true that he knew about the risks against his life, despite knowing he decided to continue his fight.
As a leader Chico Mendes gained national and international exposure. One of the most consequences of Chico Mendes’ actions was in 1987 when United Nations members met Chico Mendes in Xapuri, where they witnessed the extent of forest devastation and expulsion of rubber tappers caused by projects financed by international investments. Because this, the financing to the forest projects was suspended and Chico Mendes was accused by local ranchers and politicians of hindering the progress of the state of Acre.
Months later, Chico Mendes began to receive several national and international awards. Also he was receiving many death threats from powerful farmers. Nothing stopped him. Chico Mendes traveled a lot around the Brazil and this way he could denounce the predatory action against the forest and ranchers’ acts of violence against the Xapuri workers.
On December 15, 1990 when Chico Mendes would be 46 years old if alive, both farmers involved in his murder were condemned to 19 years of prison.
But, there are many questions without answers and a lot to be done about Chico Mendes’s case. It’s (insert) much more complex situation and several suspicion was not clarified yet.

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