Edwin Chota was a Peruvian activist who campaigned against illegal logging in the Amazon, along with three of his colleagues. Most unfortunately they were all shot and killed in a remote corner of the rainforest in the Peruvian region of Ucayali.
Chota is being hailed as an “environmental hero” and his work is honored by the Alexander Soros Foundation, in early December to coincide with the beginning of the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Peru.
Alexander Soros founded his own foundation, set up to promote social justice and human rights; his focus is on "progressive causes that might not have widespread support." He kicked off the foundation’s efforts with a gala in support of Global Witness, the organization that previously unveiled Africa’s blood diamond scandal.
Soros goes on to say, “Nobody is really looking at environmental defenders as great heroes. People who defend their environments are, often times, vilified because they are seen as crazy, anti-technology people. It is important that we show that these types of activists exist and they are risking life and limb.”
Edwin Chota Valero, 54, was the president of the Ashéninka indigenous settlement of Saweto. He was a charismatic activist who opposed drug traffickers and criminal timber syndicates that have come to operate with a sense of near-total impunity across broad swaths of Peru's isolated borderlands.
More than half of Peru is still covered by rainforest, but those forests are being cut down at an ever-faster rate to satisfy voracious international demand for timber and related products.
Alexander Soros is the son of legendary investor, and philanthropist, George Soros. The elder Soros once wrote about his take on philanthropy and activism: “My success in the financial markets has given me a greater degree of independence than most other people. This allows me to take a stand on controversial issues: In fact, it obliges me to do so because others cannot.”