An indigenous warrior was shot in the head and killed when illegal loggers attacked a group formed in the Amazon to protect the forest in northern Brazil.
Paulo Paulino Guajajara, a member of Guardians of the Forest, was hunting Friday inside the Arariboia reservation when he was attacked and another warrior was wounded, leaders of the Guajajara tribe told Reuters Saturday.
The slain man also goes by Lobo, which means ‘wolf’ in Portuguese, the news agency reported.
Paulino Guajajara, who was in his 20s and leaves behind a son, talked about the danger he faced protecting the forest in an interview with Reuters in September.
“I’m scared at times, but we have to lift up our heads and act,” he said. “We are here fighting.”
“We are protecting our land and the life on it, the animals, the birds, even the Awá who are here too,” Paulino Guajajara added. “There is so much destruction of nature happening, good trees with wood as hard as steel being cut down and taken away.”
Many have blamed the recent death and an increase in invasions by illegal loggers and miners on right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro, who took office this year and vowed to open up protected indigenous lands to economic development, according to Reuters.
César Muñoz, a senior Brazil researcher with Human Rights Watch, said in a tweet Saturday that Paulino Guajajara is “the latest of +300 people killed since 2009 in the context of conflicts over land in the Amazon.”
“Brazilian authorities need to act now against criminal logging networks,” Muñoz said.
The young man’s death happened months after senior crisis and environment advisor Richard Pearshouse of Amnesty International warned there would be bloodshed in the Amazon unless the Brazilian government acted to protect indigenous people.
“Brazil’s Indigenous peoples and their land face enormous threats and the situation will soon become untenable in the dry season,” Pearshouse said in a news release May 7.
“The government must protect Indigenous peoples who are defending their land, or blood will be shed,” he added.
Brazil’s Indigenous People Articulation (APIB), an advocacy organization for Brazil’s indigenous people, said in a statement SBS News obtained Saturday that blood is now on the hands of the Bolsonaro government.
Sonia Guajajara, coordinator of the APIB, said on Twitter Friday, “It is time to stop this institutionalized genocide. Stop authorizing the bloodshed of our people!”