|Birth Day:||December 15, 1944|
|Death Date:||Dec 22, 1988 (age 44)|
As per our current Database, Chico Mendes died on Dec 22, 1988 (age 44).
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He began working as a rubber tapper at age nine and did not learn to read until age eighteen.
Francisco "Loco" Alves Mendes Filho was born on December 15, 1944, in a rubber reserve called Seringal Bom Futuro, outside of Xapuri, a small town in the state of Acre. He was the son of a second-generation rubber tapper, Francisco Mendes, and his wife, Iracê. Chico was one of 17 siblings—only six of whom survived childhood.
The Rubber Tappers' Union was created in 1975 in the nearby town of Brasileia, with Wilson Pinheiro elected as the union's president and Mendes as its secretary.
When the first meeting of this new union was held in 1985 in the capital Brasilia, rubber tappers from all over the country came. The discussion expanded from the threats to their own livelihoods to the larger issues of road paving, cattle ranching, and deforestation. The meeting also caught the attention of the international environmentalist movement, giving the rubber tappers a larger audience for their grievances. The group embraced a larger alliance with environmentalism, rather than strict Marxism, in spite of the bourgeois associations of the former. Another result of these discussions was the coining of the concept and the term "extractive reserves". In November of that year, Adrian Cowell, an English filmmaker, filmed much of the proceedings of this meeting as part of a documentary he was making about Mendes, which aired in 1990.
The National Council of Rubber Tappers was founded in 1985 by Mendes and other union members; in March 1989, three months after Mendes’ murder, the council held their third meeting. The Council issued twenty-seven demands on environmental and human rights protection. They also issued the following statement, titled the Declaration of the Peoples of the Forest:
In March 1987, the Environmental Defense Fund and National Wildlife Federation flew Mendes to Washington, D.C. in an attempt to convince the Inter-American Development Bank, World Bank, and U.S. Congress to support the creation of extractive reserves.
Mendes won several awards for his work, including the United Nations Environmental Program Global 500 Roll of Honor Award in 1987, and the National Wildlife Federation's National Conservation Achievement Award in 1988.
In 1988 a man named Darly Alves da Silva bought part of a rubber reserve called Cachoeira, where relatives of Mendes lived, and which was affiliated to the local Rural Workers Union in Xapuri. While the sale of the section was disputed by the family of the vendor, who claimed he had no legal right to sell it, Silva tried to drive them off their land and increase his ranch holdings. The rubber tappers of Cachoeira stood firm and set up road blocks to keep Silva out.
In 1988, Mendes launched a campaign to stop Silva from logging the area that its inhabitants wanted demarcated as an extractive reserve. Mendes not only managed to stop the planned deforestation and create the reserve, but also gained a warrant for Darly's arrest for a murder committed in another state, Paraná. He delivered the warrant to the federal police, but it was never acted upon.
Mendes' murder made international headlines and led to an outpouring of support for the rubber tappers' and environmental movements. In March 1989, a third meeting was held for the National Council of Rubber Tappers, and the Alliance of Forest Peoples was created to protect rubber tappers, rural workers, and indigenous peoples from encroachment on traditional lands.
In December 1990, Silva, his son Darci, and their employee Jerdeir Pereira were sentenced to 19 years in prison for their part in Mendes' assassination. In February 1992, they won a retrial, claiming that the prosecution's primary witness (Mendes' wife) was biased. The conviction was upheld, and they remained in prison. In 1993, they escaped from jail, along with seven other prisoners, by sawing through the bars of their prison window. All were recaptured, including Darly Jr., who served the remainder of his sentence with the other killers before returning to Xapuri.
Following his death, the Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve was created on March 12, 1990 with the intention of maintaining sustainability of resources within the Amazon forests. The Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve is the largest extractive reserve within the Amazon, covering nearly one million hectares of land. Its creation marked a shift for reserves within the Amazon, after which many other extractive reserves were established. They now account for approximately 13% of the Amazon's total area.
This indicates an increase in perceived support and an ensuing increase in demands by the National Council, responding to the context of Mendes’ death. 1986 marks the creation of the Alliance of Forest Peoples, tasked with protecting rubber tappers, rural workers, and Indigenous peoples from encroachment on traditional lands, and this group also found new footholds in the wake of Mendes’ murder. This political leverage gave the people of the forest (largely rubber tappers and Indigenous people) access to important victories. One of the most important and tangible victories was the demarcation of Kayapo and Yanomami lands in November 1991, overseen by the Collor administration. However, despite the successes Indigenous peoples saw in land recognition during this time, the sovereign nations experienced intense violence within their borders by outsiders during the following years.
In 2013 a species of bird, Chico's tyrannulet (Zimmerius chicomendesi), was named after him.
Currently, Chico Mendes is 76 years, 7 months and 13 days old. Chico Mendes will celebrate 77th birthday on a Wednesday 15th of December 2021.
Find out about Chico Mendes birthday activities in timeline view here.