Firmino Prexede Guajajara

The Killing

Source: Amazon Watch & Rainforest Foundation US

45 year old Firmino Silvino Prexede Guajajara was the leader of Silvino Village (Cana Brava Indigenous Land)  On December 7th 2019, an unidentified individual shot and killed two indigenous people in Maranhão state, Firmino Prexede Guajajara and Raimundo Guajajara, and injured two others. 

The men were shot from a moving vehicle on Brazilian highway BR 226, which crosses the indigenous land of Canabrava, of the Guajajara people in Maranhão state, between Boa Vista and El Betel villages, located between the cities Grajaú and Barra do Corda.

The indigenous men had been riding a motorcycle on the road. The group of indigenous men was returning from a meeting with Eletronorte, Brazilian electric utilities company, and Funai (Brazilian National Indigenous Foundation) where they had been advocating in defence of their rights.

An indigenous person recorded a video (also linked in this post) at the scene asking people to share the message: “Please spread this video so that people can know the state of vulnerability we are in, for lack of security, for illicit acts that some people practice. And now our relatives have had to pay with their own lives. This can’t keep happening. Brazilian authorities and responsible bodies must take action on this.”


The Reaction



Former Socialism and Liberty Party (PSOL) candidate Sonia Gujajara denounced the attack.

“Witnesses mentioned they saw a white car that slowed down and opened fire on the Indigenous persons,” as local outlet Forum reported.

Firmino Prexede Guajajara died on the spot and Nelsi Olimpio Guajajara was shot in his leg. They were returning from a political meeting in which the defence of Indigenous territories was discussed.


Source: Reuters

Indigenous peoples in Brazil are facing escalating violence during the presidency of Jair Bolsonario, who has promised to reduce indigenous rights and encouraged the commercial exploitation of their protected lands. Indigenous people have faced violence especially from illegal loggers and miners.

Magno Guajajara, a spokesman for the tribe, said they did not know why the two men had been shot, whom he identified as Firmino Guajajara and Raimundo Guajajara. Both men were on a highway, coming back from a meeting, when the shooting happened.


Source: Greta Thunberg on Twitter

‘Indigenous people are literally being murdered for trying to protect the forest from illegal deforestation. Over and over again. It is shameful that the world remains silent about this.’


Source: AJ+ Twitter

‘This Indigenous forest guardian was wounded by shots from a passing car. Two other Guajajara tribe members have been killed and one other was wounded in Maranhão, Brazil.

“This crime cannot go unpunished,” Guajajara leader Sonia Guajajara said in a statement.


The Investigation


Source: The Guardian

Magno Guajajara, a spokesman for the tribe, said they did not know why the two men, who he identified as Firmino Guajajara and Raimundo Guajajara, had been shot. He said the attackers had lowered their car’s windows and opened fire on the group.

“They were shooting at everyone,” he said.

Authorities said they were investigating but did not say if anyone had been detained.

The incident happened in the Cana Brava indigenous reservation, which spans 137,000 hectares in the state of Maranhão and has 4,500 inhabitants, according to government records.

Brazil’s federal police are investigating the killing in El-Betel and its motivation, the justice minister, Sergio Moro, said on social media. Moro also said he is evaluating the possibility of dispatching a National Guard team to the state.


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Date of Killing:07/12/2019

Previous Threats:No information

Type of Work:Community leader

Organisation:Guajajara Tribe

Sector or Type of Rights the HRD Worked On:ESC Rights

Sector Detail:Environmental Rights, Extractive industries/Mega projects, Indigenous Peoples' Rights, Land Rights

More information:Front Line Defenders

1This database records an individual's chosen gender identity. If they do not self-identify as male or female they can use the option of recording other/neither or use the term NBGI (non binary gender identity).

URLs (links) of Interest
Amazon Watch
Tele sur English
AJ Plus
Greta Thunberg
Eco Watch
The Guardian
Democracy Now
E 360
Rainforest Foundation
Correio do Brasil
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