sábado, 2 de abril de 2011

Statue of Chico Mendes

Francisco Alves Mendes Filho, better known as "Chico Mendes" (Xapuri, December 15, 1944 - Xapuri, December 22, 1988) was a rubber tapper, unionist and environmental activist in Brazil. He fought for the preservation of the Amazon and became known worldwide because of his death.


Chico Mendes, a child, he began learning the craft of rubber, accompanying his father on tours through the forest. Only learned to read at 19 and 20 years, since most of the rubber there were no schools, nor the landowners had no intention of creating them on their properties.

He began his career as a union leader in 1975 as general secretary of the newly formed Union of Rural Workers of Brasiléia. Since 1976 actively participated in the struggles of the rubber to prevent deforestation through the "ties" - peaceful demonstrations in which the rubber trees to protect their own bodies. Also organized several actions to defend the possession of land by native inhabitants.

In 1977 he participated in the founding of the Rural Workers Union of Xapuri, and was elected councilor for local MDB. Then comes the first death threats by farmers, and starts having problems with his own party, who did not identify with their struggles.

In 1979 Chico Mendes brings together union leaders, and celebrations at City Hall, turning it into a great forum debates. Accused of subversion, is subjected to harsh interrogation. Without support, can not register the complaint of torture he suffered in December that year.
Representatives of the peoples of the forest (rubber tappers, Indians, Maroons) present claims during the 2nd National Meeting, Brasilia

Chico Mendes was one of the founders of the Workers Party and one of its leaders in Acre, and participated in rallies with Lula in the region. In 1980 was framed within the National Security Law at the request of the local ranchers, who sought to involve him in the murder of a ranch foreman, possibly related to the assassination of the President and Workers' Union Brasiléia, Wilson Pinheiro Sousa.

In 1981 Chico Mendes became the director of the Union of Xapuri, where he was president until his death. Candidate for state representative for the PT in the 1982 elections, can not be elected.

Accused of inciting violence squatters, was tried by the Military Court of Manaus, and acquitted for lack of evidence in 1984.

Led # 1. National Meeting of Rubber Tappers, in October 1985, during which he created the National Council of Rubber Tappers (CNS), which became the main reference for the category. Under his leadership the rubber tappers' struggle to preserve their way of life became known nationally and internationally. The proposal of the "Union of Forest Peoples" in defense of the Amazon Forest seeks to unite the interests of indigenous peoples, rubber tappers, Brazil nut, small fishermen, babassu nut breakers and coastal communities through the creation of extractive reserves. These reserves preserve indigenous areas and forests, besides being an instrument of agrarian reform rubber tappers.

In 1986 participates in the elections that year for the PT-AC candidate for state representative alongside other candidates including Ms Marina Silva to federal, José Marques de Sousa (Mathias) to the Senate, and Helio Pepper for Governor, none of which are elected .

In 1987, Chico Mendes was visited by some members of the UN in Xapuri, they could see firsthand the devastation of the forest and the expulsion of the rubber caused by projects financed by international banks. Two months later he took his complaints to the U.S. Senate and the meeting of a financing bank, the IDB. Funding for these projects are immediately suspended. On occasion, Chico Mendes has been accused by farmers and local politicians for "obstructing progress", which apparently does not convince international public opinion. Some months later, Mendes received several international awards, highlighting the Global 500, offered by the UN for their struggle in defense of the environment.

Throughout 1988 he participated in the establishment of the first extractive reserve in Acre. Threatened and persecuted by organized after the installation of the UDR in the state, runs Mendes Brazil, participating in seminars, lectures and conferences where he denounced the predatory actions against the forest from farmers and violence against workers in the region.

After the expropriation of Cachoeira Rubber in Xapuri property Darly Alves da Silva, are compounded by the death threats against Chico Mendes, who has repeatedly denounced publicly the names of likely responsible. Makes it clear to the police and government are at risk of losing life and that he needed protection. In the 3rd National Congress of the CUT, returns to denounce their situation, similar to several other leaders of rural workers across the country. Assign responsibility for the violence to the UDR. The thesis presents on behalf of the Union of Xapuri, In Defense of Forest Peoples, adopted by acclamation by the nearly six thousand delegates. At the end of the Congress, Mendes was elected deputy of the national leadership of the CUT. Also assume the chairmanship of the National Council of Rubber Tappers from the 2nd National Meeting of the category, scheduled for March 1989 but did not survive until that date.

On December 22, 1988, exactly a week after his 44th birthday, Chico Mendes was killed by shots from a shotgun in the chest at the back door of his house, when I went out to bathe. Chico announced that he would be killed because of their intense struggle to preserve the Amazon, and sought protection, but authorities and the press did not investigate. Married Ilzamar Mendes (2nd wife), left two sons, and Elenira Sandino, who was then two and four years old, respectively. In 1992 he was identified through DNA testing a third daughter.

After the murder of Chico Mendes over thirty union, religious, political, human rights and environmental groups have joined to form the "Committee Chico Mendes." They demanded that measures and through national coordination and international pressure on official bodies for the crime to be punished. In December 1990, the Brazilian court ordered the farmers Darly Alves da Silva and Darcy Alves Ferreira, responsible for his death, 19 years in prison. Darly escaped in February 1993 and hid in the INCRA settlement in the interior of Pará, and even received public funding from the Bank of Amazonia under false identity. He was recaptured in June 1996. The misrepresentation earned him a second sentence: two years and eight months in prison.

Review of sentence

In December 2007, a judge's decision Maha Kouzi Manasfi Manasfi and granted the farmer Darly Alves da Silva house arrest until March 2008. Darly had been taken to prison in Rio Branco in August 2006 after having been convicted in jury and famous as the instigator of the crime.

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