25 May 2011, at 5:45 PM, mike powell wrote:
So much of what we have been able to do in the IKM programme has been such fun, based on stimulating engagement with really interesting people, often in pleasant settings, that it is easy to forget the harshness of the challenges which 'development' faces, or the amazing grace and courage of those real experts who confront and work to overcome those challenges every day of their lives.
I am very sorry to say that I have heard today from Dan Baron, co-ordinator of the IKM supported 'Voices of the Land' project in Para State Brazil, that Maria do Espirito Santo da Silva, one of the students he has been working with on the project has, along with one of her fellow activists, been murdered by hired gunmen.
It seems their deaths relate to their participation in and leadership of an environmentally sensitive settlement which aimed to develop livelihoods out of the rain forest rather than destroy it.
Maria, as a student of rural pedagogy at the Federal University of Para, was actively participating in the 'Vozes de Campo' project - an attempt to develop and articulate novel approaches to rural pedagogy more appropriate to the social and natural environment of residents of the interior of the state. This work is nearing fruition in the form of a bi-lingual (Portuguese and English) book and DVD, which will be jointly published with UNESCO later this summer.
I hope that will form some sort of memorial for her life and death. Nor, as the attached notices also make clear, do I think it unreasonable for us all to contact our nearest Brazilian Embassy and ask
1) How it is possible, in a democratic and increasingly prosperous country which is rightly being welcomed to take ever larger parts on the world stage, that such a chain of events could have taken place?
2) What actions are the federal govenment taking to ensure the apprehension and punishment of all thosed involved in causing these deaths?
3) What steps the federal authorites are planning to ensure the future security of others on their settlement and on many other similar ones?
I attach two files - one, a notice of death signed by a range of popular organisations active in Para State, the other is an IKM translation of the same, done with speed in mind using fairly rusty Portuguese. Should the links on this notice not work, the latter can also be found at