This case is one example in Parà of how resistance to deforestation and land grabbing is repressed on the ground, to the extent of killing a nun of USA origin, Dorothy Stang, who had become Brazilian. As explained by one another nun, "Dorothy moved into the Amazon area when the government had been giving land to peasant farmers in order to populate the Amazon area somewhat (after openning the TransAmazon road).
She felt that the presence of the church should be there, and she wanted to support them spiritually and materially. She realized in the 1980s that the loggers and the ranchers were beginning to come into the area and take over the land that had been given to the peasant farmers. The peasants had not been given the deeds to the land, so they have no proof that the land belongs to them. And Sister Dorothy has been trying to get the federal government and the state government to act to protect the peasant farmers.". This happened around Anapu, a town to the east of Altamira, at the center of Pará rural violence. Its population in 2015 was 25,000 inhabitants. It has a large territory, its forets are subject to massive clearcutting. It is a frontier town on the Transmazon Highway. Dorothy Stang, in 2004, although she knew she was putting her life at risk, went to Brasilia to give evidence before a congressional committee of inquiry into deforestation. She named logging companies who were invading state areas. Environmental organisations reckoned that 90% of the timber from Pará state is being illegally logged. Loggers reacted by calling her a terrorist and accused her of supplying peasant farmers with guns. She and other local leaders began to suffer direct death threats, but she refused to be leave and continued her work with the small farmers and the landless. The goal of such calculated murders is to eliminate opposition to the clear-cutting and burning of the forest so that fields of soy beans can be planted, trees can be logged, and cattle can graze. She worked with a small group of nuns for the CPT, the Catholic Church's Pastoral Land Commission since 1982 in Anapu . The CPT had been created by the Brazilian bishops in 1975 in response to the mounting violence in the Amazon region, as landowners used gunmen to clear peasant farmers from disputed land, as they still do. Born in Dayton, Ohio, into a large family, Dorothy Stang had joined as a 17 years old the order of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in 1948. In 1966 she was sent as a missionary to Brazil at a time when Liberation Theology was sweeping through the Catholic church in Latin America. Priests and nuns left the cloisters to work in shanty towns and poor rural communities alongside the poor and dispossessed. Sister Dorothy was one of them.
Like all CPT workers in the Amazon, she knew her life was threatened, although she believed that being a nun would protect her. CPT records showed in 2006 that nearly 1,400 people had been killed in land conflicts in the last 20 years, over a third of them in Pará. Her brutal killing on 14 February 2006 shocked Brazil . The impact of her death was compared with that of Chico Mendes' in Acre as the Amazon rubbertappers' leader and environmentalist shot dead in 1988. Activists had hoped that the flood of national and international attention Stang’s murder brought would be a catalyst for the end of endemic impunity. However, ten years after her killing , the Pastoral Land Commission documented 118 deaths in the Brazilian state of Pará since 2005. For every instance of killing, there are numerous instances of harassment, forced evictions of settlers, threats and physical violence. Many of these cases have gone unpunished. In Stang's case, there were convictions not just for the gunmen but also for the "mandantes", who were convicted of planning the killing. Stang’s case was exceptional "for the simple fact that the killers were identified and brought to trial. Of the 1,270 cases of homicide of rural workers documented by the Pastoral Land Commission between 1985 and 2013, less then 10 percent were ever prosecuted. Stang’s case was one of the first times a mandante (someone who orders a hit) was convicted in Pará" .