A Guardian of the Forest: Remembering Paulo Paulino Guajajara

Paulo Paulino Guajajara, an Indigenous protector of the Amazon rainforest, was murdered by illegal loggers Friday of last week. He is one of at least 135 Indigenous people murdered in the Amazon over this last year alone. Five centuries ago there were an estimated ten million Indigenous people living in the Amazonian Rainforest. Now, there are less than 200,000 thanks to European colonization and corporate plunder. And they continue to face annihilation today.

Since Jair Bolsonaro took office as president of Brazil the violence against these communities, as well as a concerted effort to decimate one of the most unique and important ecosystems on the planet, has accelerated. Bolsonaro, who has openly celebrated the country’s fascist past where scores were tortured and disappeared, has vowed to open the rainforest up even further to agribusiness, logging and mining.

If Bolsonaro succeeds it will likely lead to a genocide of the indigenous communities that live there and signal a truly terrifying turn for the planet’s biosphere. But he is not alone in this crime. Several banks and corporations profit handsomely from the destruction of the rainforest, including JPMorgan Chase, HSBC, Cargill-Soy, Stop and Shop, WalMart, Costco, and Leclerc.

Paulo Paulino Guajajara, who was also known as Lobo or “wolf” in Spanish, was a member of Guardians of the Forest. They began in 2012 with a mission to protect their community and an even more vulnerable Indigenous group who lives in voluntary isolation in a constitutionally protected territory of forest known as the Araribóia. But it has been cut off from the rest of the Amazon rainforest due to massive deforestation and it is often targeted by illegal loggers. Time after time the Guajajara have requested protection from the Brazilian government. They have received none.

Lobo’s murder is being mourned deeply this week. Indeed, all who care deeply about justice and our imperiled biosphere are mourning. He is survived by one son. May he rest in peace.

Paulo Paulino Guajajara, ¡Presente!

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