Crime

Illegal loggers kill Brazilian indigenous forest guardian, wound another in ambush

“Bolsonaro government has indigenous blood on their hands,” pan-indigenous association APIB wrote

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Paulo Paulino Guajajara was a member of an indigenous group known as “Guardians of the Forest” / Sarah Shenker/Survival International/Screen capture

Illegal loggers killed on Friday the indigenous warrior Paulo Paulino Guajajara in Bom Jesus das Selvas, state of Maranhão. Guajajara, also known as “Bad Wolf,” was part of a group of indigenous forest rangers known as “Guardians of the Forest.”

Organizations reported that the indigenous group was ambushed in their own territory, between the Lagoa Comprida and Jenipapo villages, in the Arariboia Indigenous Land.

Guajajara was murdered with a gunshot to his face after “intense confrontation.” His body was left on the scene for several hours after his death because it was impossible to remove it, due to the violent situation against indigenous people in the area.

Another guardian, Laércio Guajajara, was also shot and hospitalized. One of the loggers who staged the ambush has been reported killed, and his body is missing.

The two guardians, Paulino and Laércio Guajajara, left their village to fetch water when they were surrounded by at least five armed men, who fired two shots against them, a witness reported.

After the attack, the indigenous rights agency FUNAI and the Maranhão State Public Security Department deployed agents to the area.

The Guajajara are one of the most numerous indigenous peoples in Brazil. They live at the eastern margin of the Amazon region, in the Maranhão state, in 11 indigenous lands.

The Brazilian Indigenous Peoples’ Association (APIB) released a statement arguing that the case demonstrates that “the Bolsonaro Government has indigenous blood on their hands, the increased violence in indigenous territories is a direct reflection of their hate speech, as well as their measures against indigenous peoples in Brazil.”

“Our lands are being invaded, our leaders murdered, attacked and criminalized, and the Brazilian state is abandoning indigenous peoples to their fate with the ongoing dismantling of environmental and indigenous policies,” the statement reads.

“We no longer want to be statistics, we want measures from the Government, from the agencies that are increasingly scrapped precisely to not protect the people who are paying with their own lives for doing the work that is the State’s responsibility. We demand urgent justice!,” the indigenous leader Sonia Guajajara said. 

Edition: Rafael Tatemoto | Translated by Aline Scátola