BRAZIL (Reuters) – Illegal loggers in the Amazon have ambushed a grassroots group that was formed to protect a forest and shoot a young warrior and another's wounds, leaders of the Guajajara tribe in northern Brazil said on Saturday.
FILE PHOTO: Paulo Paulino Guajajara fished on Friday November 1
Paulo Paulino Guajajara, or Lobo (which in Portuguese means "wolf"), was fishing on Friday in the Arariboya reserve in Maranhao when he was attacked and shot in the head. Another guajajara, Laersio, was injured but escaped, they said.
The collision comes amid an increase in invasions of illegal logging and mining reserves after the right-wing president, Jair Bolsonroro, took office this year and promised to open protected local lands for economic development.
"The Bolsonaro government has root blood on its hands," the Brazilian indigenous organization APIB, which represents many of the country's 900,000 locals, said in a statement Saturday.
"The increase in indigenous violence is a direct result of his hateful statements and steps taken against our people," APIB said.
APIB leader Sonia Guajajara said the government was dismantling environmental and indigenous agencies and leaving tribes to defend against invasion of their lands.
"It's time to say enough about this institutionalized genocide," she said in a Twitter post.
The Brazilian Federal Police stated that they had sent a team to investigate the circumstances of Paulino Guajajara's death. APIB said his body still lies in the forest where he was killed.
The Guajajars, one of Brazil's largest indigenous groups of about 20,000 people, set up Forest Guardians here in 2012 to patrol a huge reserve. The area is so large that a small and endangered tribe, Awa Guajá, lives deep in the forest without any contact with the outside world.
Paulino Guajara, who was twenty years old and left behind a son, told Reuters in an interview here on the reservation in September that protecting the forest from intruders had become a dangerous task, but his people could not surrender. fear.
"Sometimes we are scared, but we have to raise our heads and act. We are fighting here, ”he said as he and other warriors prepared to move through the forest to logging.
"We protect our land and the life of it, animals, birds, even Ava, who are also here," Paulino Guajajara says at the time. "Nature happens so much, beautiful trees with wood, as hard as steel to be cut down and carried away."
"We must preserve this life for the future of our children," he said.
Report by Anthony Boadle and Leo Benasato; Editing by Bernadette Baum