Anisio Souza was a member of the “Associação dos Homens e Mulheres do Mar da Baía de Guanabara” (Ahomar) and an activist for conservation and the rights of fishing communities in Greater Rio de Janeiro. For more than 20 years he had campaigned denouncing the pollution caused by the oil and gas terminals installed in the Magé region and the restrictions imposed by public and private agents on the rights of artisanal fishermen to exercise their activity.
As he was coming home from work on 12 March 2020, Souza was approached at the gate to his house by hooded men who got out of a silver Onix vehicle and fired several times killing him instantly. Anisio was accompanied by his six-year-old son.
The killing came five days after another Ahomar member, Edilson Aderaldo Marques Filho, was shot with rubber bullets fired by Navy patrolmen while he was out fishing in Guanabara Bay near a restricted area, close to the gas terminals of private companies.
Edilson suffered head injuries and is at risk of losing part of his eyesight.
These incidents are just the latest in a long list of threats, violence and murders committed against members of Ahomar and fishermen from the Baixada Fluminense. Because of their stand as environmental defenders and protectors of the marine way of life, the artisanal fishermen of the region have become a vulnerable group frequently targeted by private security forces and public agents.
In the past they have denounced cases of contamination in Guanabara Bay, such as the one caused by the rupture of a pipeline connecting the Duque de Caxias Refinery (Reduc) to Ilha d’Água Terminal, on Ilha do Governador, in 2000. The rupture caused a spill of 1.3 million liters of fuel oil, destroyed mangroves and polluted an Environmental Protection Area.
The members of Ahomar have also campaigned to end the exploitation of fossil fuels in coastal regions and protested against the auction of oil blocks that threatened the Abrolhos National Marine Park, in 2019.
Anisio’s brother, Alexandre Anderson de Souza, president of Ahomar suffered several threats and had to join the federal government’s Protection Programme for Human Rights Defenders. However when Alexandre called the Protection Programme after the shooting of his brother he had to wait 9 hours for a reply. Two members of AHOMAR were murdered in 2012.