Chico Mendes (1944-1988) was a Brazilian environmental activist who paid with his life for his commitment to protecting the rainforest and the rights of its indigenous people. He was murdered in 1988 by a rancher, Darly Alves da Silva, and accomplices, after Mendes had succeeded in stopping da Silva’s proposal to clear-cut an area of forest which had been designated a nature preserve. In the same year, 18 other activists were murdered in Brazil. Da Silva and his two accomplices were prosecuted successfully and convicted for the murder of Mendes.
As a result of Mendes’ campaigns , and the international outcry following his murder, the Brazilian government no longer subsidies logging and ranching in the rainforest, and has designated many more nature reserves, including one named after the activist: Parque Chico Mendes. However, clear-cutting of the rainforest has not completely stopped and many more activists have lost their lives since 1988 in Brazil.
“At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rain forest. Now I realize I am fighting for humanity.” Chico Mendes