Before the world was outraged by the murders of British journalist Dom Phillips and Indigenous advocate Bruno Pereira, it was aghast at the killings of Chico Mendes and Dorothy Stang.
Mendes was a rubber tapper and unionist murdered by ranchers in 1988 in the southern Amazon; 73-year-old Stang was a US nun assassinated in 2005 for standing up to illegal loggers on the other side of the rainforest.
Their deaths shocked ブラジル, caused international outrage and temporarily focused the world’s attention on the Amazon.
But for those hoping the recent murder of Phillips and Pereira will mark a turning point for the Amazon – some combination, いう, of greater environmental protections, more oversight or broader rights for Brazil’s Indigenous communities – the killings of Mendes and Stang do not offer very comforting lessons.
Mendes was shot dead three days before Christmas 1988 for standing up to the ranchers clearing the rainforest where he survived by farming latex from rubber trees.
His murder embarrassed Brazil, a nation that was returning to the international stage after a brutal 21-year dictatorship.
The South American nation responded by passing a series of laws that granted broader protection for the rainforest and indigenous communities, as well as providing a framework for Brazil’s modern environmental movement.
Those laws are not always applied but when they are, they work, and for years they have formed the backbone for Amazonian preservation.
The clamor for action after Mendes was killed reverberated around the world, with former Police front man Sting leading the way, meeting Indigenous leaders and bringing friends such as Elton John and Billy Joel together for a series of concerts dubbed Rock for the Rainforest.
This time around, Brazilians have taken the lead, with footballers Pelé and Richarlison, singers Anitta and Caetano Veloso, and a host of actors, writers and other celebrities demanding justice for Phillips and Pereira.
The parallels are clear to Marina Silva, a former environment minister who knew Chico Mendes growing up in their home state of Acre. But Silva warns that the situation is bleaker today under far-right President ジャイール・ボルソナロ.
“The difference I see is that back then governments were worried what the international repercussion were,」彼女はガーディアンに語った. “There was a fear about how it would harm Brazil’s international image. This government doesn’t care about that.”
Bolsonaro has made his contempt for international opinion plain and his brazen attitude was on show in the days after Phillips and Pereira were murdered on a river in far western Brazil.
Bolsonaro said their carefully planned trip was “an adventure that was not recommended” and then slandered Phillips for reporting on a region where loggers, ranchers, hunters and prospectors are moving in.
Silva said as long as Bolsonaro is in power – he is up for re-election in October – there is little chance of change.
“He is not worried about taking real action as happened in the past, his talk is designed only to act as a temporary political shield," 彼女は言いました. “He won’t go against his conservative and reactionary base. The first thing that he said was not that they would investigate and punish the criminals … the first thing he said was to blame Dom and Bruno for going on an adventure.”
The comparisons with the Stang murder are similar in terms of repercussions.
A nun with the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Ohio-born Stang had long been a target for powerful interests angry at her support for land reform in the Amazonian state of Pará.
She had been threatened before and was undaunted when gunmen approached her in the middle of a rainstorm. As she read to them from the bible, they opened fire, shooting her six times.
The killing shocked Brazil, prompting then President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva to send federal troops to the area and ban logging along the highway that cut through the forest near Stang’s home.
The outrage, and the arrival of 2,000 兵隊, led to a small and temporary halt in violence in the area but overall there was no long-term change, said Ronilson Costa, national coordinator of the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT), a Catholic church organisation that monitors land conflicts.
“We don’t believe that anything changes because of these cases,” said Costa. “There is not less violence or fewer deaths and the numbers prove that.”
“The level of impunity is very high," 彼が追加した. “Areas such as Amazonia are always in conflict, there is something every week, whether it is a threat, an attack, a prison, and murder as well. I think the expansion and invasion of capital has generated more violence.”
According to CPT statistics, Stang was one of 39 people killed over land disputes in 2005. In the years since, より多い 600 people have perished, an average of 38 毎年.
Costa said the thirst for land and natural resources means more violence is inevitable, especially as successive administrations have failed to address the root causes.
Only around 10 % of the cases recorded by the CPT come to trial and even then it often takes years of delays, appeals and retrials.
After the funerals of Phillips and Pereira took place at the weekend, the challenge now is not just finding justice but holding the world’s interest. New outrages are already happening – one man was killed and others were injured when military police opened fire on the Guarani community of Guapo’y on Friday – and the news cycle moves on.
“This has focused international attention not just on environmental destruction but also on violence and we have been trying to convey that message for years,” said Cesar Muñoz, Americas’ senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“What I hope now is that this leads to more awareness.”