Raimundo Santos Rodrigues, known as José dos Santos, is another victim of the greed of the looters, the unpunished violence of the state of Maranhão and State absence. José Santos Rodrigues was Adviser to the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio) in the Gurupi Biological Reserve, last fragment of the Amazon forest in Maranhão lands, the most degraded area of the Brazilian Amazon. The Rebio Gurupi is surrounded by three indigenous areas: High Turiaçu, Awá and Caru, which, like the forest, suffering the attacks of timber.
José dos Santos was accompanied by his wife, who was hit by gunfire and still in the hospital. Over the years, Joseph has denounced the loggers and defended his community, also in quality of the Rural Workers Union member (STTR) of Bom Jardim. The attack follows a series of death threats which Raimundo dos Santos Rodrigues reported to the National Agrarian Ombudsman (Ouvidoria Nacional Agrária) in November 2014. However, no action was taken.
In the kirby village of Bom Jardim, another city STTR member, Raimundo Borges "Head", was murdered three years ago. Counties Buriticupu and Bom Jardim are often seen by people as "lawless land" where the state is particularly absent, the collective rights defense institutions are extremely fragile and violence dictates the law of the strongest.
According to the Comissão Pastoral da Terra, in the first semester of 2015, 23 people were killed in land conflicts ; only one of those deaths did not take place in the Amazon region. In Maranhão, during 2014, five human rights defenders were killed, five suffered attempted killings and 51 were threatened to death. In 2015, three other human rights defenders were killed, besides Mr. Dos Santos Rodrigues and three suffered attempted killings.
The environmental and human rights associations demand to the killings do not go unpunished and ask an accurate investigation,with the identification and punishment of the murderers and their instigators. They also ask to the state guarantee permanent protection of communities and human rights defenders in the region, and to act to stop logging in of protected areas and of indigenous lands. You can help them by writing a letter here.