Raimundo Benício Guajajara

The Killing

Source: Amazônia Real (Brazil), Business Human Rights Resource Centre

38 year old Raimundo Benício Guajajara was an Indian chief from Descendência Severino village, Lagoa Comprida Indigenous Land, Brazil. On Saturday 7th December 2019, Raimundo and one other chief Firmino Prexede Guajajara 45, were attacked by gunmen in a moving car and both were shot and killed.

A group of indigenous people from the Guajajara people was attacked by gunfire, around 12:40 pm (Brasília time) this Saturday (07), while traveling on motorcycles along a stretch of highway BR-226 near the village El Betel , in the Cana Brava Indigenous Territory, in the municipality of Jenipapo dos Vieiras, in Maranhão. Two chiefs died in the attack : Firmino Prexede Guajajara, 45, from Silvino village (TI Cana Brava), hit by four shots, and Raimundo Benício Guajajara, 38, from Descendência Severino village, Lagoa Comprida Indigenous Land, according to the Magno Guajajara leadership to the Amazônia Real agency . Two indigenous people were injured.’ 

Author: Elaíze Farias

Source: The Guardian

‘The group was returning from a meeting when they were attacked by gunmen in a moving car. Indigenous tribes in Brazil are facing escalating violence during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, who has promised to reduce tribal rights and encouraged the commercial exploitation of their protected lands. Tribes have faced violence from illegal loggers and miners.’ 

Source: Amazônia Real (Brazil), Business Human Rights Resource Centre

In his Twitter account, the Minister of Justice, Sérgio Moro, spoke about the attack and showed solidarity with the victims and their families. He said the Federal Police “have already sent a team to the scene and will investigate the crime and its motivation”. He also said he will “assess the feasibility of sending National Force personnel to the region.”

“I regret the attack, which took place today in Maranhão, which ended with two Guajajaras Indians dead and others injured. As soon as Funai learned of the shots, he went to the village to take action, together with the authorities of the Maranhão government, ”he said on Twitter.

The State Secretariat for Human Rights and Popular Participation of Maranhão released a note saying it is following the case with the State Secretariat for Public Security and representatives of Funai.

According to Magno Guajajara, the indigenous people were attacked when they returned from a meeting in the village of Coquinho, where they met with directors of Eletronorte Energia.

At the meeting, which was attended by 60 chiefs and Guajajara leaders, the indigenous people discussed topics relating to compensation the environmental impact of the installation of transmission lines within the territory, according to the coordinator of Funai (National Foundation of the Indian) in Maranhão, Guaraci Mendes.

“We were dealing with the Eletronorte issue. At the end of the meeting, the indigenous people returned home by motorcycle. As they were travelling down the hill, they were approached and shot. They just shot our relatives. On the way, they lowered the window and looked to see if they were indigenous. They accelerated and fired. It was a fatal shot. Nobody knows why these shots, this violence, this manifestation of hatred occurred, ”said Magno Guajajara to Amazônia Real’

Author: Elaíze Farias

Source: Amazônia Real (Brazil), Business Human Rights Resource Centre

The Investigation

‘Guaraci Mendes told the report that he sent teams to the scene and communicated the case to the Federal Police in Maranhão, which is already in the field for investigations. The bodies will be examined by the Legal Medical Institute (IML) before the burial of the chiefs. Mendes also reported how he learned of the attack.

“My colleague [at Funai] went to the meeting, but then I saw that I had forgotten a document. I asked Magno to deliver it. Ten minutes after he left he called me saying : ‘Guaraci, they just killed two relatives. There were two shots. We saw the car, they opened fire and ran away. ‘ We have already sent the teams and looked for the police and now we are waiting for more information ”, said Mendes.

The Funai coordinator pointed out that “only the main Guajajara leaders were meeting to deal with the compensation with Eletronorte” and this fact caught his attention.

“It was the entire summit, chiefs and leaders, of the Cana Brava Indigenous Land. It seems that it was a planned action, ”said Mendes.’  

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

Author: Elaíze Farias


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. Source: The Guardian

Source: The Guardian


The advocacy group Amazon Watch said the Guajajara people were returning from a meeting with Eletronorte, a Brazilian electric utilities company, and Funai (Brazilian National Indigenous Foundation) where they had been advocating for their rights.

The program director of Amazon Watch, Christian Poirier, said: “An institutionalised genocide of indigenous peoples is taking place in Brazil. They are being abandoned, vulnerable to all kinds of threats and violence.

“The international community must not accept that any more indigenous blood be shed. It is the constitutional duty of the Brazilian government to protect indigenous territories and ensure the safety of their peoples.” 

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Date of Killing:07/12/2019

Previous Threats:Yes

Type of Work:Community leader

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).