In November 2019, Paulo Paulino Guajajara, a 26-year-old Indigenous Guajajara leader, was killed in an Amazon rainforest ambush, allegedly by loggers in the Arariboia Indigenous Territory, one of Brazil's most threatened Indigenous lands.
Paulo was a member of “Guardians of the Forest,” a group of 120 Indigenous Guajajara who risk their lives fighting illegal logging in Arariboia to protect the uncontacted Awá Guajá hunters-gatherers, one of the most at-risk Indigenous groups.
Over the past 20 years, more than 50 Guajajara individuals have been killed in Maranhão, with none of the alleged perpetrators ever going on trial. Meanwhile, illegal logging in Maranhão's Indigenous territories has escalated.
Harvesting timber inside an Indigenous reserve is illegal under Brazilian law, which protects—or should protect—the area from outsiders. Where does this wood go? Who are the buyers?
This investigation unveils a “laundering” scheme that allows illegal timber trade from the Arariboia Indigenous Territory to international markets, including the United States and the European Union.