This past Friday, November 1, Paulo Paulino Guajajara went on a hunting trip with a friend in the Araribóia reserve in the Amazon Rainforest. The two men were ambushed by a group of illegal loggers, resulting in Paulo Paulino Guajajara's death, while his friend was wounded and hospitalized. Guajajara's death has sparked outrage, especially among members of the indigenous community who have accused the Brazilian government, especially president Jair Bolsonaro, of inaction in regards to deforestation and the displacement of indigenous peoples in the Amazon.
Guajajara and his friend were both "forest guardians," a group of indigenous people who protect their land from illegal loggers. The need for indigenous people in the Amazon to take these matters in their own hands, rather than relying on Brazilian law enforcement, is further evidence of the Brazilian government's inaction. Paulo Paulino Guajajara's death has only deepened the already existing discontent of indigenous groups in the Amazon. Guajajara is not the first forest guardian to be killed and is one of a large number of indigenous people in the Amazon who have been murdered. A report found that 135 indigenous people were murdered in 2018, and the Indigenous Missionary Council has reported that there have been 160 cases of invasion or exploitation of indigenous land in 2019 as of September.
Many have linked the increase in the intrusions upon indigenous land and murders of indigenous people to Jair Bolsonaro's presidency. Bolsonaro has supported opening up indigenous reserves for commercial use and has also overlooked illegal logging operations in the area. These reserves are meant to be protected by the government for indigenous peoples' use but have experienced more incidents of illegal logging and intrusions upon the land.
Guajajara's death comes around the same time where fires in the Amazon have caused a large public outcry worldwide. These fires and Guajajara's death are part of the same problem: deforestation in the Amazon has increased, and indigenous people are being threatened and displaced due to this deforestation. Guajajara's murder may not be the last of its kind, and his death and the circumstances of his death deserve the same attention that was initially given to the spread of the fires in the Amazon.