Another rural activist was found shot to death in the Amazon on Thursday, just three days after Brazil's leaders discussed how to stop the region's deadly disputes over logging and protect those whose lives are threatened.
Police in Eldorado dos Carajas, a town in Para state, said the slaying bore the characteristics of an execution, but gave no further details. The victim was identified only by his first name, Marcos.
Two witnesses initially tried to take the wounded activist to a hospital, but were stopped en route by gunmen in another car who got out and finished off the victim, the police chief of southeastern Para, Alberto Teixeira, told Globo TV's G1 website.
The Catholic Land Pastoral, a watchdog group, says more than 1,150 rural activists have been slain in Brazil over the past 20 years. The killings are mostly carried out by gunmen hired by loggers, ranchers and farmers to silence protests over illegal logging and land rights in the environmentally sensitive region. The group also has a list of 125 activists whose lives are in danger because of their opposition to loggers.
Last week, three activists were shot to death, along with a witness to a killing.
Rubber tapper Jose Claudio Ribeiro da Silva and his wife, Maria, were ambushed by gunmen in the same forested region where Thursday's killing took place. The Silvas led a reserve where farmers used the land in a sustainable manner and had denounced illegal logging for years.
Adelino Ramos was shot six times while taking produce to sell at a market with his wife and children. He died Friday. Ramos had long called for land reform and turned in those who destroyed the jungle in the Amazon state of Rondonia, which borders Bolivia.
Thursday's slaying happened in the landless peasant settlement where 19 people were killed and 69 wounded in a clash with police in 1996. The policemen involved were acquitted and the date is marked by activists as a reminder of the impunity to which these murders are relegated in Brazil.
Presidential secretary Gilberto Carvalho told the state-run news agency Agencia Brasil on Thursday that the national government will act strongly against the bloodshed.
"We've taken a series of measures to contain the violence in the region, but it seems we'll have to take more decisive action," he said before going into a previously scheduled meeting with the president of Brazil, Dilma Rousseff, and the governors of the states of Para, Rondonia and Amazonas to discuss this issues.
The justice minister, Jose Eduardo Cardozo, said the armed forces, national guard, federal police and highway police will all lend support to state police departments in their effort to stop the killings in Brazil's forested north.
On Monday, Brazilian Vice President Michel Temer led a meeting with the ministers of environment, justice, rural development and human rights to discuss how to halt the killings.
They announced the creation of a working group on Amazon violence, though no details were given about how the government intended to increase policing in the region or how many new officers would be sent.
On Tuesday, the minister of human rights, Maria do Rosario Nunes, said the government doesn't have the resources to provide protection for all those who suffer threats because of their political activism, saying that it is a long list.
Federal prosecutors acknowledge the vast majority of killings in the Amazon go unpunished. There is little government presence in the vast region and local governments are easily swayed by powerful loggers, ranchers and farmers who profit from illegally clearing forest.
Fewer than 100 cases have gone to court since 1988, according to the Catholic Land Pastoral. About 80 of the hired gunmen have been convicted. Fifteen of the men who hired them were found guilty. Only one is in prison today _ the man found guilty of ordering the 2005 murder of the U.S. nun Dorothy Stang.