Forest Stumps

An Activist’s Bulletproof Vest May
Save Neither Her Nor the Amazon

‘They’re going to kill me.’ Nilcilene Miguel de Lima, who heads a group of small producers deep in Brazil’s Amazonas State, sounds pragmatic when speaking about how she expects her life to end. Given Brazil’s sad record protecting the lives of activists in the region, her words have a sobering, prophetic ring to them. She also sounds undaunted, despite the already many attempts on her life.
Wearing a bullefproof vest 24/7 and having a personal security detail, Nilce’s determined to defend the people of her village, Lábrea. She’ll need lots of luck, better than many like Chico Mendes, the legendary rubber-tapper leader born in Acre State like her and assassinated in 1988, and environmentalists João Cláudio Ribeiro da Silva and wife Maria do Espírito Santo, ambushed and killed a year ago next May.
Those who contracted their killers remain for the most part at large. Along with the world’s greatest flora and fauna diversity and its largest rainforest, the Amazon is littered with the bodies of many who stood up to illegal loggers, land grabbers, big landowners and drug traffickers. So the odds are not particularly stacked on her favor.
Neither they are on the side of preservationists and those who advocate for the estimated 20 million people who make the jungle their homes, Continue reading