Fighting the machine in the Amazon rainforest

The Amazon rainforest is facing one of the worst crisis in history.  It is facing a battle between the logging, agricultural and cattle raising business and the people who want to preserve the rainforest from deforestation and destruction. This large ecosystem of forest, rivers, flora and fauna is being exploited for its natural resources in an unsustainable way that if not being stopped it could produce an irreversible damage to the world.  At current deforestation rate it is calculated that in the next two decades the Amazon rainforest will be reduced to 40%.

causes of amazon deforestation in brazil
Causes of deforestation in Brazil

The Brazilian government hasn’t been able to stop the devastation in the Amazon, and has left the natives with weak environmental protection laws and with very little police presence protection from the capitalist interests in the region.  Logging corporations and loggers who live from the exploitation of wood in the region have been slowly taking over territory in order to harvest wood and create grazing land for cattle. This has accelerated the erosion of the land, and the deforestation of a natural habitat that is destroying the amazonian ecosystem.  Natives interested in preserving this natural ecosystem have been left alone to face this hungry capitalist machine that has been gaining territory through bribes, government lobby, threats and violence.

The murder of Brazilian conservationist Zé Cláudio Ribeiro

One of the most notable cases of a loss battle in preserving the Amazon forest has been the violent murder of Zé Cláudio Ribeiro, a Brazilian conservationist and environmentalist who campaigned against logging and clearcutting of trees in the Amazon rainforest.  Zé Cláudio was a lone warrior together with his wife that campaigned against corporations and loggers who were illegally trying to gain territory for exploitation.  These people who main interest was money, had absolutely no consideration towards the environment and were eager to do what ever it takes to expand their business, even if it meant killing other people that stood in front of them.  Zé Cláudio felt that doing justice was protecting the land and campaigning against illegal logging and deforestation.  From that moment both he and his wife started getting death threats, that materialised on may 23, 2011 when he was brutally murdered with his wife on his way home by two gunmen.

Zé Cláudio was a worthy representative of the native Brazilian community in the northern Amazon, he as a normal citizen did not understand violence.  His weapon was the sense of justice and preservation of the environment.  He did not have the ability to face violence or threats against his life, that is why he was murdered, because he was a good man, unable to protect himself from evil.  Currently in the Amazonian rainforest evil can only be fought with evil, because justice is too far away to protect the innocent.  Zé Cláudio was a victim of it, but left a great legacy and spiked global awareness on the Amazonian deforestation crisis.  His murder resonated worldwide and brought the attention of the world, which now understand how business works in the Amazon rainforest.  How money is the only priority, even if it means cutting down the last tree and destroying the future of Brazil and the world.

Shortly before Zé Cláudio was murdered he appeared in a TEDx Amazônia talk in Brazil, his speech was remarkable and inspirational. His most amazing quote:

“The forest is twice as sustainable when standing up than when cut down, because when you cut it down you only have it once, but when you leave it standing you have it forever”

“The forest is twice as sustainable when standing up than when cut down, because when you cut it down you only have it once, but when you leave it standing you have it forever”  Zé Cláudio

This is the complete Zé Cláudio Ted Talk with English subtitles

Shortly after his murder Vice travelled to the state of Para in Brazil to document the aftermath of the tragedy interviewing his family, friends and other political activists.

Here is the complete documentary by Vice dedicated to Zé Cláudio, Murder in the Amazon