The legacy of Chico Mendes: the man who gave his life for the Amazon

chico mendes amazon rainforest
Chico Mendes

In February, Brazil’s new Environment Minister Ricardo Salles was being grilled on weekly interview show Roda Viva. Awarded the cabinet seat despite never having visited the Amazon rainforest, Mr. Salles was quizzed on his knowledge of key environmentalist figures, and became increasingly irritated at his own ignorance of his field.

Asked about what he thought of Chico Mendes, the most famous of Brazilian environmentalists, Mr. Salles stuttered, replying indignantly, “what difference does it make who Chico Mendes is?”

At a time when the Amazon rainforest is burning and attracting widespread international attention, many would say that Brazil’s Environment...

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