by Elias Marat
blood on its hands.
The increase in
violence in Indigenous territories
is a direct
result of his hateful speeches"...
A young indigenous leader
was murdered on Friday in the Amazon rainforest in an ambush by
illegal loggers that also wounded another member of the Guajajara
people in Northern Brazil.
Paulo Paulino Guajajara, 26, was shot in the head during the
ambush in the Araribóia Indigenous Reserve, which has come under
grave threats from illegal loggers and miners who are trying to
steal and exploit indigenous land.
Greenpeace photo taken October 24, 2015
shows forest fires in the Arariboia indigenous lands in Brazil,
of the biggest forest fires ever registered" within
such a territory, home to 12,000 of the
Paulo was a prominent
land defender and member of the Guardians of the Forest indigenous
land defense group.
Fellow Guardian and indigenous leader Laércio Guajajara was
hit by two shots that grazed his back and arm during the ambush but
he was able to escape,
Brazilian pan-indigenous organization APIB, a group representing
about 900,000 indigenous people throughout the country, squarely
laid the blame on the administration of far-right President
In a statement
quoted by Reuters news agency, APIB
government has Indigenous blood on its hands.
The increase in violence in Indigenous territories is a direct
result of his hateful speeches and steps taken against our
Federal law enforcement
bodies are investigating the case, which also allegedly resulted in
a logger being killed, but Paulo's body still remains missing.
The case will also be investigated by a special technical advisor
and a retired Federal Police officer, according to a statement
announced by federal indigenous agency FUNAI.
In a tweet, Minister of Justice
Sergio Moro pledged,
"to bring those
responsible for this serious crime to justice."
APIB leader Sonia
Guajajara blasted the Bolsonaro government's dismantling of
environmental and indigenous agencies, which leaves Brazil's
indigenous nations - many of whom have lacked deeds to their
ancestral land since the founding of the country - defenseless when
faced with illegal land grabbers.
In a Twitter post, Sonia
"It's time to say
enough of this institutionalized genocide."
Bolsonaro and his
officials regularly blame environmental laws, activist groups,
non-governmental organizations, and indigenous peoples for allegedly
hindering Brazil's economic potential.
inauguration last year, the far-right president vowed to reverse
protections that ensure that 15 percent of Brazil's territory is
reserved for indigenous tribes.
At the time, Bolsonaro tweeted:
these citizens and bring value to all Brazilians."
While Bolsonaro has yet
to implement his most incendiary threats against indigenous peoples,
his rabidly racist language has encouraged illegal encroachments on
The Guajajara indigenous group, one of the country's largest that
numbers about 20,000 people, established the Guardians in 2012 in
order to patrol their huge reservation and expel illegal loggers
from the reserve.
The tiny Awá Guajá
indigenous group also lives deep in the forest, and has not made any
contact with the outside world.
Speaking to Democracy Now,
Amazon Watch program director Christian Poirier explained:
"[The Guajajara are]
doing this on behalf of all of humanity, because they are
protecting the critically important Amazon forests that sustain
our climate, protect our climate, power or, I should say, fuel
the rainfall all over Brazil, but also here in this country. In
the state of California, rainfall is slackening due to the fact
the Amazon is being decimated today.
And the Guardians of the Forest are doing this work, therefore,
on behalf of all of us, but without the support that they
Their rights are enshrined in Brazil's Constitution - their
rights to territory and to their way of life … Yet they have
been systematically deprived of these rights.
And what we witnessed today - or, two days ago, with the murder
of Paulino, was an example of that, a manifestation of the
violence that's growing in these communities."
In September, Paulino
Guajajara - who leaves behind one son - spoke to Reuters about
the dangers inherent in guarding the rainforest from the predatory
forces that seek to exploit indigenous land.
As he and others prepared
to move toward a logging camp at the time, Paulino had said:
"We are protecting
our land and the life on it - the animals, the birds, even the
tribe who are here, too.
There is so much destruction of nature happening, including
trees with wood as hard as steel being cut down and taken away.
I'm scared sometimes, but we have to lift up our heads and act.
We are here fighting.
We have to preserve this life for our children's future."