Saturday February 12, 2005, 74 year old Sister Dorothy Stang, an American nun and Brazilian citizen who defended the Amazon was shot by two gunmen as she was traveling to a sustainable development project in the city of Anapú. Sister Dorothy dedicated nearly half her life to give a voice to rural Amazon communities, defending their land rights, and fighting for a development model that would not result in forest destruction. She tirelessly insisted that a strong presence of the government in the remote regions of the Amazon was necessary.
Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Sister Dorothy had worked in the Amazon for the past 37 years, living in Anapú since 1972. She opposed corrupt logging companies in the region. She was an outspoken critic of land grabbers and illegal loggers who use intimidation and violence to force small landowners off their land.
"...Sister Dorothy refused to be intimidated and she paid the ultimate price for it," said Paulo Adario, Greenpeace Amazon coordinator who had worked with Sister Dorothy. “She worked selflessly for many years supporting the rights of rural workers and defending the Amazon from deforestation."
Her work made her the target of many death threats.
"The Pará government failed to protect her," said Adario. "But she was not alone. There are many others who risk their lives fighting against forest destruction and for the rights of local communities. The violence and intimidation must stop."
Approximately one-third of the deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon takes place in Pará, and the state is notorious for both environmental abuse and human rights violations.