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Walking the Forest with Chico Mendes

Struggle for Justice in the Amazon

By Gomercindo Rodrigues Edited and translated by Linda Rabben

Publication Year: 2007

The inspiring story of courageous labor and environmental activist Chico Mendes, who led Brazil’s rubber tappers until his assassination in 1988.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii


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pp. ix-x

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Foreword: In the Steps of the Rubber Tapper

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pp. xi-xiv

In Portuguese, saudade means longing, yearning, homesickness, nostalgia. That’s what I feel as I wander through the story Gomercindo Rodrigues tells, as I remember the moments I shared with so many other wanderers.Among them was my unforgettable comrade...


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pp. xv

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Introduction: Introduction to the English Edition

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pp. 1-18

Gomercindo Rodrigues is one of thousands of agronomists, lawyers, priests, health workers, students, teachers, professors, small-business people, government functionaries, and others who invested precious time and energy while often risking their lives to help build Brazil’s rural...

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Chapter 1: I Was There!

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pp. 19-43

Why write so long after? How to write? When all’s said and done, I am not a “writer,” and I have already felt on various occasions that people might want me to write a biography of Chico Mendes.This might not be too difficult: It would require some interviews with some...

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Chapter 2: A Very Difficult Beginning

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pp. 44-63

People ask me if I’m from Acre. I say not by birth but by choice, since I was born in Mato Grosso do Sul, where I trained as an agronomist. So they ask how I came to be in Xapuri.This is a long story. Maybe by telling it I can recover a little of the history...

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Chapter 3: Rubber Tappers: A Century’s Struggle

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pp. 64-88

The Amazon has always been coveted, ever since the “discovery” of Brazil. As early as the sixteenth century Spaniards made their first journeys on the river they called the Amazon because, it is said, when they went up the river, they met indigenous populations that included...

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Chapter 4: A Genocidal Occupation

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pp. 89-100

At the beginning of the 1970s the military dictatorship in Brazil developed an Amazon policy based on geopolitical and geostrategic principles conceived by General Golbery do Couto e Silva1 and his disciples.This policy was based on several false premises, such as the...

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Chapter 5: “Our Victory Depends on Our Organization and Discipline”

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pp. 101-121

Sometime after beginning to work with Chico Mendes, I saw the phrase in the title of this chapter written on a blackboard during a general meeting of the Xapuri Rural Workers’ Union. It sums up the entire political method that directed the actions of the union under...

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Chapter 6: A Little About My Friend Chico Mendes

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pp. 122-146

I am not writing a biography of Chico Mendes, first because I believe he himself would not like this to be done—especially by me or any friend—since it would prove we hadn’t understood any of what he taught us. For him, the most important thing was the struggle...

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Chapter 7: An Interview with Chico Mendes

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pp. 147-153

Chico Mendes gave many interviews to national and international journalists, environmentalists, university professors and graduate students. Much of what he said is recorded. In December 1987 I carried out an interview with him that was never...

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Afterword: Chico’s Dream

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pp. 154-164

Chico Mendes liked to play dominoes, tell ghost stories, and play practical jokes. I should know; he played one on me in July 1988.As we walked the forest near the Cachoeira estate, he pulled a strip of bark from a tree next to the rubber trail. Sucking...

Author’s and Editor’s Notes

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pp. 165-174

Editor’s Bibliography

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pp. 175-176


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pp. 177-187

E-ISBN-13: 9780292795044
E-ISBN-10: 0292795041
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292717053
Print-ISBN-10: 0292717059

Page Count: 205
Illustrations: 9 b&w illus., 1 map, 1 table
Publication Year: 2007