Chico Vive: The Legacy of Chico Mendes and the Global Grassroots Environmental Movement

The Chico Vive conference, April 4-6, 2014, will take place at American University’s School of International Service in Washington, D.C.

Marina Silva, Brazil’s former environment minister, and John Knox, the UN’s independent expert on human rights and the environment, will be keynote speakers.Grassroots activists and experts from many countries will also speak.

The conference will honor Chico Mendes, the leader of the rubber tappers of the Brazilian Amazon. In the late 1980s he became internationally famous as an environmental campaigner.

Mendes traveled the world, calling for cancellation of road, ranching, mining and dam projects that threatened the Amazon rainforest and the rubber tappers’ sustainable way of life. On December 22, 1988, he was killed at his home in Xapuri, Acre, Brazil. He was 44 years old.

Grassroots environmental movements have sprung up in many parts of the world in the 25 years since Mendes’ death. Often led by charismatic activists, they seek nonviolently to prevent depredation of living and working spaces by powerful domestic and foreign actors. These include ranchers, loggers, mining companies, politicians, government authorities, banks, investors and international development agencies.

Activists, lawyers, journalists and othersconfront immensely powerful forces that do not hesitate to use all the resources at their disposal, including lethal violence. Every month someone like Chico Mendes is killed somewhere in the world as a result of nonviolent activities on behalf of local people who are struggling to survive sustainably.

The conference will put Chico Mendes’ life and death into historical, social, political and economic context, in light of the evolution of a worldwide movement that defends the environment and its inhabitants.

With financial support from the Ford Foundation, the Heinrich Böll Foundation, 20 cosponsors and other donors, grassroots environmentalists from many countries will exchange ideas and experiences at the conference.

Participants will include activists, policymakers, journalists, scholars and students. The organizers hope they will be inspired by what they learn from one another to intensify their commitment to the environment and its defenders.
Chico Vive Planning Committee
Eve Bratman Thomas Lovejoy
Janet Chernela Biorn Maybury-Lewis
John Garrison Andrew Miller
Laura Graham Andrew Revkin
Christine Halvorson Gomercindo Rodrigues

For more information contact Linda Rabben,

conference organizer, [email protected],


To register or make a donation, go to

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