Brazliian environmentalist dies after self-immolation protest
Rhett A. Butler, mongabay.com
November 14, 2005
A Brazilian environmentalist has died after self-immolation in a protest against the construction of alcohol factories in the Pantanal marsh region. The 65-year-old Francisco Anselmo de Barros wrapped himself in an alcohol-soaked blanket and set it on fire during a protest Saturday in Campo Grande, 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) northwest of Rio de Janeiro.
Barros was president of the Foundation for Nature Conservation in Mato Grosso do Sul state, a group he founded in 1980. He was vehemently opposed to the sugar cane factories in the Pantanal, a vast wetland area covering portions of Brazil, Paraguay, and Bolivia that is renowned for its biological diversity — especially its wildlife. After the Amazon rainforest, the Pantanal is one of the best known destinations for nature travelers and ecotourists in Brazil.
According to the Globo news agency, in a letter left to his family and friends, Barros wrote that he “did what he did as the only way to wake the people up” to the environmental threat.
Portions of the Pantanal have been officially protected, but much of the area remains threatened by pressures for development. Recently, South American governments have proposed a major waterway project that could significantly impact the region by draining sensitive wetlands.
This article used information from the Globo news agency.