Brazilian Amazon community leader shot dead

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Sat, 28 May 2011 00:36 GMT
Author: Reuters
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* Killing follows the murder of two activists

* Renews concern over violent land conflicts

SAO PAULO, May 27 (Reuters) - A community leader in Brazil's Amazon region was shot dead on Friday, heightening tensions in a region where conflicts over land and natural resources has intensified.

Adelino Ramos, the president of the Amazon small farmers association, was shot dead in front of his family on Friday morning in the northern state of Rondonia, according to a statement from Brazil's Secretariat for Human Rights.

It was not immediately clear who shot Ramos, known as Dinho. He had, however, warned of death threats against him by loggers, according to the statement, which cited other local community leaders.

Ramos was a survivor of a 1995 massacre in which 13 people were killed.

His death came two days after the killing of rubber tapper and leading forest conservationist Joao Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria do Espirito Santo, in the state of Para. [ID:nN24262512]

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff has ordered a federal police investigation into those murders.

Dozens of people are killed each year in land disputes in Brazil, many in the sprawling and sparsely policed Amazon region.

There have been 71 murders in Rondonia tied to land disputes since 2001. Only a small number of the perpetrators were jailed, according to the Secretariat for Human Rights.

The murders come just days after an overhaul of the law on land usage was passed by Brazil's lower house of Congress. Critics say it represents a surrender to farming interests and would set back recent progress in protecting the Amazon. [ID:nN24103553]

Last week, officials reported a sharp rise in deforestation that environmentalists said was likely fueled by expectations that a new law providing amnesty to many of those responsible for illegal tree-felling in recent decades would pass. [ID:nN18255448].

(Reporting by Inae Riveras; Editing by Paul Simao)

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