By TALES AZZONI
The Associated Press
SAO PAULO — An activist fighting to protect the Amazon rain forest from loggers was shot and killed with his wife, Brazilian authorities said Wednesday.
The killings occurred just hours before Brazil’s lower house of Congress passed legislation environmentalists warned will increase deforestation in the region.
Rubber tapper Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife were ambushed by gunmen Tuesday in an interior city in the jungle state of Para in northern Brazil, police said. Authorities were investigating the crime and no arrests had been made.
The Catholic Land Pastoral, known as CPT, a watchdog group that tracks violence against environmental activists, said more than 1,150 activists, small farmers, judges, priests and other rural workers have been killed in disputes over preserving land since the 1988 murder of Brazil’s renowned rain forest protector Chico Mendes.