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Creek Running North
March 03, 2005
Without resting in justice, there is no resting in peace
Brazilian environmental activist Dionisio Ribeiro Filho, 59, was killed by poachers Tuesday in the Tingua federal reserve, which he had worked to defend for three decades.
The murder came ten days after that of Dorothy Stang, a US nun and rainforest protection activist.
Brazil's president Ignacio Lula Da Silva is a friend of the environment, at least as much as any head of state in the world. But he struggles uphill to enforce the law against rapacious corporations and lawless thugs, two groups with an increasingly blurred boundary between them.
This sort of thing is far from unknown in the US. As eliminationist rhetoric enters the official mainstream in US politics, and as the Bush administration systematically guts legal protection for the environment and those who would protect it, and as reactionary hate groups identify environmental activists for harassment by the freelance stormtrooper thugs of the right, we can only look forward to such attacks intensifying.
Some have sent me notes telling me to shut up about politics and concentrate on the creek, on the birds and fish. But politics are how one best protects the fish, the birds. When it is treason to defend a tree, those who love trees must become traitors.
Deaths galvanize a movement, but that is of scant comfort to the dead. Dionisio protected trees - what a noble, peaceful, honorable pursuit! - and he was killed for it. We are aware of his trees now: he is dead nonetheless. We dare not let our awareness go to waste.
There underneath the Earth,
you are not sleeping,
Your heart hears the spring appear;
as your breath moved so the breeze moves.
Buried there for the sun
fresh soil covers your seed;
your root will sink deep
and bear the flower of the new day.
To your wounded feet they came;
humble hands came, sowing.
Your death will bring many lives,
and where you now go
they will soon march, singing.
There where the criminal hides
your name offers the rich many more names.
He who burned your wings as you flew
did not extinguish the fire of the poor.
There brother, here on the Earth,
our souls fill with flags, marching.
Against fear they advance.
We will win.
– Victor Jara