On December 22, 1988, Chico Mendes, the leader of the struggle to preserve the Amazonian rainforest, stepped out of the back door of his house and was assassinated. Chico was a seringueiro, a rubber tapper who collects latex from the trees of the forest. He had a vision of the people of the rainforest living in balance with the natural world, supporting their communities through harvesting the natural, renewable forest products in a sustainable manner. It was for this vision that he was murdered by the powerful ranchers of the region, who wish to burn the forests and expand their vast estates. And it is also for this vision that he has become for many throughout the world a hero of the earth, a saint of ecology
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