Amazon Martyr: Don Alfredo

April 29, 2019

This October, the Vatican will gather bishops from around the world to discuss how to protect the Amazon and its people.

Sadly, the Amazon is in desperate need of protection. Scores of advocates for justice–many of them devoted to protecting both the land and the people–are murdered there each year.

Each month until the synod, we will celebrate and life and mourn the sacrifice of one of those martyrs. This month, we remember Alfredo Ernesto Vracko Neuenschwander.

Don Alfredo lived In the Peruvian Amazon, near La Pampa, an area known for its illegal gold mines. In an effort to spur regulators to protect the land, he began to lodge complaints with the government.

Mine in the Amazon, courtesy Rainforest Alliance

His complaints were largely unsuccessful. In a rare victory, he won reforestation of some 2,543 hectares of land. However, that land was soon encroached upon by more illegal mines.

Mine in the Amazon, courtesy Rainforest Alliance

Don Alfredo continued to protest, and he began to receive death threats. In November of 2015, Don Alfredo was shot in his own home. He was 58 years old.

Don Alfredo’s son Freddy then took up the fight, running for Congress on the platform of protecting the Amazon. In April 2017, Freddy reported threats against his own life.

Read more about read more about Don Alfredo’s story here, from REPAM (in Spanish).