Photos available upon request
This afternoon, an unidentified individual shot and killed two indigenous chiefs, Firmino Prexede Guajajara and Raimundo Guajajara, and injured two others. The men were shot from a moving vehicle on Brazilian highway BR 226, which crosses the indigenous land of Canabrava, of the Guajajara people in Maranhão state, between Boa Vista and El Betel villages, located between the cities Grajaú and Barra do Corda. The indigenous men had been riding a motorcycle on the road. The group of indigenous men was returning from a meeting with Eletronorte, Brazilian electric utilities company, and Funai (Brazilian National Indigenous Foundation) where they had been advocating in defense of their rights.
An indigenous person recorded a video at the scene asking people to share the message: “Please spread this video so that people can know the state of vulnerability we are in, for lack of security, for illicit acts that some people practice. And now our relatives have had to pay with their own lives. This can’t keep happening. Brazilian authorities and responsible bodies must take action on this.”
Last month, Paulo Paulino Guajajara, who worked as a forest guardian defending indigenous territory against illegal logging, was murdered by loggers also near the BR 226, the same area where today’s crime against Guajajara people took place. Since Paulino’s murder, feelings of abandonment and insecurity have spread throughout the more than 170 villages of Arariboia’s territory (an area of 413,000 hectares which has been demarcated since 1990). According to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, threats and tension are forcing the forest guardians to leave their territory. Authorities in the Government of Maranhão had already decided to evacuate three “guardians” for their own safety: the group’s coordinator, Olímpio Guajajara, and Laércio and Auro Guajajara (one of whom, Laércio, survived the ambush that killed Paulino). Despite international outcry and many thousands of messages sent to Brazil’s Justice Minister, Sergio Moro, no one has yet been arrested for Paulo Paulino’s murder.
Laercio said in a recent interview that a war could happen if the Ministry of Justice doesn’t protect the forest guardians: “This will not end if Justice does not take care of us. It will get worse. I think there will be a war in the future because we won’t surrender our land for them to destroy and they won’t want to give up stealing what’s ours. The tendency is to get worse if no one intervenes in this exploration of our territory.”
Amazon Watch Program Director Christian Poirier issued the following statement:
“An institutionalized genocide of indigenous peoples is taking place in Brazil. They are being left alone, vulnerable to all kinds of threats and violence. The international community must not accept that any more indigenous blood be shed. It is the constitutional duty of the Brazilian government to protect indigenous territories and ensure the safety of their peoples.”