On the first of September, 2014 assailants gunned down four Indigenous Ashéninka men as they trekked through the Amazon rainforest on the border between Peru and Brazil. Their deaths could easily be dismissed as isolated and random violence along a dangerous frontier. Far from it. These deaths represent a global struggle. The climate changes, the forest falls, and the courageous men and women trying to protect their forests and lands fall too. The death of local environmental defenders threatens the global community’s efforts to keep rainforests intact and the climate stable. This presentation investigates the details leading to the death of Ashéninka leaders Edwin Chota and Jorge Ríos, two of the four men killed in Saweto community. National Geographic Magazine and the New York Times featured Saweto’s struggle against illegal loggers, but the forest and their lives remained under assault. Here the assassination is mapped out within the Amazonian context of the current development paradigm, global commodity chains, and the war on drugs.
Dr. David S. Salisbury, Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Richmond, has been exploring the Amazon borderlands for almost 20 years, thirteen of them supporting Saweto’s efforts to control their lands and forests. His applied approach seeks to contribute to local initiatives to best understand the complex transboundary dynamics in remote Amazonian landscapes. Currently, Dr. Salisbury is working on research concerning road building, territorial conflict, and timber exploitation in the Amazon. He teaches in the Environmental Studies and International Studies Programs in addition to the Department of Geography and the Environment.
Contact: Nancy Propst