José Raimundo Mota de Souza Júnior, known as Júnior, was 38 years old, married and the youngest of a family of 10 brothers in the Quilombola (Afro-descendant) community of Jiboia in Bahia state.
On the evening of 13 July, 2017, Junior was working in the fields with his brother and nephew when four men pulled up in a car and opened fire on Junior. He was hit 10 times while his brother had to hide in a ditch to avoid being killed. The 4 men kept firing as they drove off.
Junior was the regional coordinator for the « Movimento dos Pequenos Agricultores na Bahia » (Movement of Poor Farmers of Bahia) and had undertaken courses in community leadership and legal studies so that he could help in the struggle to legally establish the land rights of his Quilombola community.
According to INCRA – the national institute for land reform – the land regularization process for the Quilombola community of Jiboia was in an advanced state and the landowners in the perimeter of the community were already aware of the upcoming expropriation. Hence, it is believed Júnior’s murder is related to his land rights struggle.
Brazil is now one of the most dangerous countries in the world in which to be a land rights defender and the government has systematically failed to address the issue.