Brazilian Indigenous Forest Defender Dies in Ambush by Illegal Loggers
A young Indigenous warrior from the Guajajara tribe in northern Brazil was shot dead and another was wounded in an ambush by illegal loggers, after the government of President Jair Bolsonaro left tribes to defend their lands from increased incursions by logging and mining interests, the Thomson Reuters Foundation reports.
“The Bolsonaro government has Indigenous blood on its hands,” said Brazil’s pan-Indigenous organization, APIB, in a statement Saturday. “The increase in violence in Indigenous territories is a direct result of his hateful speeches and steps taken against our people,”
Like this story? Subscribe to The Energy Mix and never miss an edition of our free e-digest.
“It’s time to say enough of this institutionalized genocide,” tweeted APIB leader Sonia Guajajara, who said the government was dismantling environmental and Indigenous agencies and leaving communities to protect themselves.
“The Guajajaras, one of Brazil’s largest Indigenous groups with some 20,000 people, set up the Guardians of the Forest in 2012 to patrol a vast reservation,” Thomson Reuters states, in a dispatch republished by CBC. “The area is so large that a small and endangered tribe, the Awá Guajá, lives deep in the forest without any contact with the outside world.”
The murdered warrior, Paulino Guajajara, was in his 20s and leaves behind one son, the news agency states. In September, he told Reuters the work of protecting the forest from intruders had become dangerous, but the community couldn’t give in to fear.
“I’m scared at times, but we have to lift up our heads and act,” he said. “We are protecting our land and the life on it, the animals, the birds, even the Awá who are here, too.”
He added that “there is so much destruction of nature happening, good trees with wood as hard as steel being cut down and taken away.” So “we have to preserve this life for our children’s future.”
Over the weekend, “Brazil’s federal police said they had sent a team to investigate the circumstances of Paulino Guajajara’s death,” Thomson Reuters writes. “APIB said his body was still lying in the forest where he was killed.”