1 Early life
4 See also
6 Further reading
7 External links
Francisco "Chico" Alves Mendes Filho was born on December 15, 1944 in the town of Seringal Santa Fé, outside of Xapuri. He was the son of a second-generation rubber tapper, Francisco Mendes, and his wife, Irâce. Chico was one of 17 siblings—only six of whom survived childhood. At age 9, Chico began work as a rubber tapper. Schools were generally prohibited on the rubber plantations. The owners did not want the workers being able to read and do arithmetic, because they would then be likely to discover they were being exploited. Mendes did not learn to read until he was 18 years old. Activism
Chico Mendes with his children
At first I thought I was fighting to save rubber trees, then I thought I was fighting to save the Amazon rainforest. Now I realise I am fighting for humanity. —Chico Mendes
To save the rainforest, Chico Mendes and the rubber workers union asked the government to set up reserves as they wanted people to use the forest without damaging it.  The Xapuri Rubber Tappers Union was created in 1970, and Chico was elected as its president. Mendes played a central role in the creation of the National Council of Rubber Tappers in the mid-1980s. Mendes' group also had strong ties with the...