Nun slain while campaigning against Amazon destruction

Through heart-rending tragedy, international attention was focused with unusual intensity this week on rainforest destruction in Brazil. Dorothy Stang, an elderly nun working to slow the devastation of the Amazon by organizing locals against the powerful (and largely illegal) logging and ranching operations bent on expanding their land holdings, was gunned down Saturday by two assailants believed to have been hired by those very operations. Some are comparing her murder to that of legendary Brazilian rubber tapper and Amazon activist Chico Mendes, who was shot 16 years ago by ranchers. Thousands of mourners attended Stang’s funeral Tuesday in the tiny Amazon town of Anapu. Popular outcry against the slaying and the general lawlessness of the area prompted Brazilian officials Wednesday to dispatch some 2,000 troops to the region to restore order. Activists hope the increased attention will prompt federal officials to do even more, but many are doubtful.

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