The Graduate Review


My story is about the final hours in the life of the Brazilian social activist and rubber, Chico Mendes, before he was assassinated on December 22, 1988. Even before I moved to Brazil in 1992–and got married and started a tour business there–I was hugely interested in the Amazon and its history and exploration. And what student of Amazonian culture hasn’t heard of Chico Mendes? He was what really inspired me to start traveling to the Amazon to see what I could perhaps do to help save the rainforest. My story is an humble effort to show the strength of the forces affecting Chico Mendes in the last days of his life, principally the push-pull between his love for life and his reassignment to dying for the cause he so strongly believed in, that being the need to preserve and sustain the Amazon Rainforest. Chico Mendes IS the Martin Luther King Jr. of my generation and his life and work deserve to be studied by all with an interest in conservation and social justice.

Note on the Author

Mark Aitchison has, since 1992, operated a riverboat tour company called “Swallows and Amazons”, which is based in the city of Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil. He was born in England to Scottish parents, grew up in West Africa and Canada, and calls Cape Cod (Massachusetts) home. He graduated from Bennington College, Vermont, in 1985 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Latin American Literature. At present he lives in Orleans, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master’s Degree at Bridgewater State Uni­versity. He teaches English as a Second Language at a local high school. He has published many of his short stories in various literacy journals.

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