José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva

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José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva (January 22, 1957 – May 24, 2011) was a Brazilian conservationist and environmentalist who campaigned against logging and clearcutting of trees in the Amazon rainforest.[1]


Ribeiro da Silva, who was also known by the nickname Zé Cláudio, campaigned against illegal logging, deforestation and ranchers.[2] He originally worked as a community leader at a forest reserve that produced sustainable rainforest products, such as oils and nuts.[2] He became an anti-logging activist as illegal loggers began to encroach further into untouched areas of Pará, his largely forested homestate in northern Brazil.[2] He and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo, had received death threats for his activism in favor of the preservation of Brazil's rainforest.[1] In 2008, a report issued by a group of Brazilian human rights groups listed Ribeiro da Silva one of a dozen activists based in the Amazon to be "considered at risk" of harm or assassination by opponents.[1][3]

In November 2010, da Silva was invited to speak at TED conference.[2] He told the TED audience that his particular region of Pará once had 85% coverage of native Amazonian plants.[2] However, since the arrival of loggers, the region's plant biodiversity had shrunk to just 20% native Amazonian plant life.[2] Da Silva also acknowledged the death threats that he had received, "I will protect the forest at all costs. That is why I could get a bullet in my head at any moment — because I denounce the loggers and charcoal producers."[4]

José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva, aged 52, and his wife, Maria do Espírito Santo, aged 51, were shot and killed in an ambush attack on May 24, 2011.[1] The attack occurred at a settlement called Maçaranduba 2, which is located near their home in Nova Ipixuna, Pará.[1] José Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva had been refused police protection by local authorities, according to reports by the Diário do Pará and The Guardian.[1] Da Silva murder brought comparisons with the killings of environmentalist Chico Mendes in 1988[1] and American nun Dorothy Stang in 2005.[5]

Two other environmental activist were also killed soon after Da Silva - Eremilton Pereira dos Santos, a farmer who was killed in the same area of Pará, and Adelino Ramos, a farmer and leader of the Corumbiara Peasant Movement in Rondônia, who was shot while selling vegetables on May 27, 2011.[6] The Brazilian government pledged to protect Amazonian activists in an emergency cabinet meeting held on May 31, 2011, to deal with the crisis.[6]

Da Silva was survived by his adopted sixteen-year-old son and two children from a previous marriage.[2]

At the 2012 United Nations Forum on Forests held in New York, José and Maria were recognised posthumously by a special Forest Heroes Award.[7][8]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Philips, Tom (2011-05-24). "Amazon rainforest activist shot dead". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Elizondo, Gabriel (2011-05-24). "AAnti-logging activist murdered in Amazon". Al Jazeera English. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  3. ^ Philips, Tom (2008-12-22). "Hundreds of Brazil's eco-warriors at risk of assassination". The Guardian. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  4. ^ Collins Rudolph, John (2011-05-24). "On Our Radar: Brazilian Forest Advocate and Wife Slain". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  5. ^ Lyons, John (2011-05-26). "Brazil Moves to Loosen Amazon-Logging Rules". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  6. ^ a b "Brazil acts to protect Amazon activists". UPI. 2011-06-01. Retrieved 2011-06-03.
  7. ^ "Forest Heroes Awards". United Nations. 2011.
  8. ^ Borgman, Teresia (2012-02-16). "De blev FN:s skogshjältar". Jordbruksaktuellt.

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