Second rancher sentenced for killing of activist nun in Brazilian Amazon

On May 1, a second rancher was sentenced for his role in the murder of Dorothy Stang, the US-born nun who was assassinated in 2005 in retaliation for her efforts on behalf of poor farmers in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest. Regivaldo Galvao was sentenced to 30 years in prison by a jury in the city of Belém. Last month rancher Vitalmiro Bastos de Moura was also sentenced to 30 years in prison for hiring hitmen to kill Stang. Three gunmen were earlier sentenced for the crime.

Stang, a nun from Ohio who spent more than 30 years fighting for land rights for poor settlers in the Amazon, was murdered in the Brazilian state of Pará in February 2005. Stang, 73, a member of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, was shot six times with a revolver as she read from the Bible, in the town of Anapu. She had been working with the Pastoral Land Commission, a Catholic group that lobbies for land reform in Brazil and fights for land rights for the poor. In 2008, Stang was honored posthumously with the United Nations’ Prize for Human Rights.

Stang’s murder was a turning point in the long struggle between the rural poor and large landowners in the state of Pará. Brazil’s federal government responded to her killing by sending two thousand troops into the state. Brazil later established several protected areas in contested forests, and took measures to encourage loggers and land-owners to set side land for settlers and indigenous groups.

“The Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur testify to the action of justice in the trial and sentence of Regivaldo Pereira Galvão,” the religious order’s US-based office in Massachusetts said in a statement. “The international congregation is in solidarity with and support of all who helped to bring this day of justice to Brazil… For the first time in the history of Pará, all those indicted for assassination in a land conflict were brought to trial and convicted for criminal activity in the Transamazon region.” (ENI, May 3; Mongabay, May 2; BBC News, May 1)

See our last posts on Brazil and the struggle for the Amazon.

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