For years, Ashéninka villagers in Saweto had been demanding title and legal recognition to their rainforest territory on the Peruvian-Brazilian border, even as loggers from the multinational Ecofusac continue to illegally invade their land, plundering its mahogany, cedar, and capirona trees.
In September 2014, their struggle to protect their rainforests cost the lives of four indigenous environmental activists—a tragedy that one of the victim’s daughters has written about in a new Miami Herald op-ed.
After years of escalating threats between miners and villagers, Edwin Chota Valera, Leoncio Quintísima Mélendez, Jorge Ríos Pérez, and Francisco Pinedo Ramírez were bound, shot, and stabbed to death just outside their village.
In the eight years since, Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS) has worked diligently to bring the case to justice. We’ve successfully:
- Lobbied to have the case prosecuted as an organized crime, ensuring that those who ordered the murders are held accountable, and not just the triggermen;
- Lobbied the federal courts to dismiss the lead prosecutor, who had undisclosed conflicts of interest in the case and was maneuvering to throw the charges out;
- Lobbied to have a prosecutor from outside the jurisdiction try the case, so as to avoid other potential conflicts of interest;
- Provided a safe house to the family members of the murder victims while they await the trial, slated to begin in June after numerous delays.
Read the story of Diana Ríos, daughter of Jorge Ríos Pérez, who has followed in her father’s footsteps and today is an environmental activist herself.