I Have Been Told

A column by Anne M. Dunn

Chico Mendes, Hero and Martyr

Many considered him a troublemaker, but to millions he was a life-saving hero.

“Chico” Francisco Alves Mendes Filho was born December 15, 1944 to a family of rubber tree tappers in Brazil. Most tappers lived on the rubber estates and plantations. At that time most estate owners prohibited their workers from receiving an education. Most children born on the plantation did not survive childhood.

But Chico survived and by age 9 he was working beside his father.

In 1960 an educated tapper named Euclides Fernando Tavora came to the plantation and Chico found a teacher and a mentor.

By age 18 Chico had learned to read and write. Tavora also brought up social and political issues. He encouraged debate and understanding about political bias, unionization and human rights. These lessons became increasingly relevant to Chico’s future.The content you are trying to access is only available to members. Sorry.

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