Five Environmental Activists Murdered in Brazil in Three Weeks

The Amazon Another rural worker, Obede Loyla Souza, 31, the father of three children, was assassinated in Pará state, Brazil, on June 9. This, less than a month after four rural workers, all of them involved to some extent in environmental activism, that is to say, opposed to illegal logging in the rainforest, were killed in the North region of Brazil. 

Three of the other assassinations also took place in Pará the other was in the neighboring state of Rondônia.

According to the Catholic social assistance organization Land Pastoral Commission (CPT), Obede was shot in a village called Tucuruí, in an area that is a hotbed of illegal logging.

It should be pointed out that many of these “rural workers” live in settlements that are supposed to serve as a kind of barrier against the advance of deforestation.

Some of them have actually been established by the government through its settlement institute (Incra). The idea behind the settlements (“assentamento extrativista”) is sustainable use of natural resources without destroying the forest.

However, they are located in remote, isolated places and the pressure by loggers, backed by landowners who are farmers or ranchers, is enormous.

A spokesperson for the CPT says that Obede was recently seen having arguments with loggers although it is reported he was not an activist in any social or environmental movements.

A local leader of rural workers, Francisco Evaristo, says he saw a pickup truck in the settlement where Obede lived on the day he was killed, which was strange.

He also revealed that many people like him and Obede have received death threats, although Obede was not on any death list. Francisco Evaristo is.

The Comissão Pastoral da Terra says it has a list of rural workers who have received death threats that has a thousand names on it. The CPT says it has sent copies of the list to Brazilian and foreign authorities.

Following the assassinations in May, president Dilma Rousseff held an emergency meeting at the Palácio do Planalto (the Brazilian White House) with North region governors and six members of her cabinet: Nelson Jobim, minister of Defense; José Eduardo Dutra, minister of Justice; Maria do Rosário, head of the Secretariat of Human Rights; Gilberto Carvalho, the president’s top administrative aide and Afonso Florence, minister of Agrarian Development.

Dilma ordered soldiers into the region. The meeting took place on June 3, and the soldiers arrived on June 7 and are supposed to stay as long as necessary.

ABr

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