It’s common knowledge to all that the Amazon Rainforest is subjected to deforestation, though the murders that take place are not so known. As of yet, there have been eight illegal logging activists murdered. Each received death threats and were fearful of their lives before the actual murder occurred.
Some activists such as Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva were very vocal and outspoken on their views and activism. They often took part in international and local seminars on Amazon protection. Thus making themselves some enemies.
Jose was even once quoted saying: “I could be here today talking to you and in one month you will get the news that I disappeared. I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment … As long as I have the strength to walk, I will denounce all of those who damage the forest.”
Earlier this year, Jose and his wife were gunned down whilst riding their motorcycle from the nature reserve where they have worked for over two decades. Authorities believe that the gunmen were professional hired hit men. Both Jose and his wife’s ears were cut off, the ears are often used as a sign of proof to the people who ordered the killings that the murder has taken place.
Murder, is not something completely unheard of in the Amazon. Many ancient hunter gatherer tribes have been killed by ranchers and modern day agriculturists in the Amazon already. This is because they are both fighting for ownership and use of the land.
All of this could simply be resolved if there is a complete stop in illegal and legal deforestation in the Amazon. A strengthened forest code from the previous 1965 legislation may also help. Unfortunately, despite Brazilian President Dilma Roussef‘s ‘promise’ to uphold the previous governments commitment to reduce deforestation by 80% by 2020, things aren’t looking up for the better.
Brazil is currently considering major changes to the current Forest Code which would allow for an increase in deforestation. Deforestation this year alone has already increased by 500% when compared to that of last year. With the reformation of this code, it has the possibility of giving agriculturists impunity. This impunity will allow them to get away with more murder and illegal deforestation. Farmers are already rushing to cut down more trees, in faith that the new reformed code will protect them with impunity.
The vote to change the code has already passed the Brazilian Senate and so now, the final decision lies with Roussef. Throughout this period of voting she has not shown any signs of favouring the change in code or rejecting it. Though those watching her closely believe she may be going with the former.
Many Brazilian scientists who have conducted studies on the impact of such a change, as well as ten former environmental ministers and soya export giants; have all voiced their concern. They all agree that such a change will licit a considerable loss in biodiversity and climatic change.
We need the Amazon more then ever right now, yet we seem to be destroying it faster than ever. If this newly reformed Forest Code is legalised in its entirety, blood will continue to flow on through the Amazon. Leaving the land and rivers stained red.