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UPDATE: Barlow and RLA Laureates mourn the killing of Cicero Guedes

Cicero Guedes dos Santos
Cicero Guedes dos Santos

In a media release issued today, “The Right Livelihood Award Foundation strongly condemns the murder of Cícero Guedes, a leader of the Brazilian Landless Workers’ Movement MST. The MST received the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’) in 1991. Cícero Guedes dos Santos, coordinator of the Landless Workers’ Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra, MST) of Brazil was killed by gunmen on Friday, January 25th. He received some twelve shots to the head while he was bicycling away from a settlement of landless families in the vicinity of the Cambahyba sugar plant, in the municipality of Campos dos Goytacazes in Rio de Janeiro. It is yet unclear who is responsible for the murder.”

“Laureates of the Right Livelihood Award from all over the world expressed their solidarity and support to the family and colleagues of the murdered activist. The Paraguayan educator and human rights advocate Martín Almada (RLA 2002), lamented that ‘violent actions continue to claim the lives of Latin American leaders and advocates for the environment and sustainability.'”

In 2005, Council of Canadians chairperson Maude Barlow, along with Polaris Institute executive director Tony Clarke, received the Right Livelihood Award for their exemplary and longstanding worldwide work for trade justice and the recognition of the fundamental human right to water. Barlow says, “To lose a cherished colleague in this terrible way reminds us that, to fight for justice, some people put their lives on the line every day. We mourn the loss of Cicero Guedes and share the grief of his family and comrades. Once I had the great fortune to visit a settlement of the landless movement in Brazil and thought I had perhaps found heaven. It was one of the loveliest places I had ever seen and the true antidote to our world of greed and unlimited growth. We will carry on our work in Cicero’s name.”

In June 2012, the Associated Press reported, “A London-based Global Witness report said more than 700 people – more than one a week – died in the decade ending 2011 ‘defending their human rights or the rights of others related to the environment, specifically land and forests.’ They were killed, the environmental investigation group says, during protests or investigations into mining, logging, intensive agriculture, hydropower dams, urban development and wildlife poaching. …Global Witness believes even more killings have gone unreported…”

For more on the life and work of Cicero Guedes, please see http://oneworldgroup.org/2013/02/01/brazilian-landless-leaders-murder-condemned/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-21216431, http://www.democracynow.org/2013/1/29/headlines/brazilian_landless_leader_cicero_guedes_shot_dead and http://www.ipsnews.net/2013/01/murder-of-landless-workers-leader-recalls-brazils-dictatorship/.