Brazilian authorities are investigating the murder of an indigenous leader in the northern state of Amapá, in the Amazon region, where violence has escalated since a group of some 50 heavily armed men—believed to be garimpeiros, or outlaw gold-miners—reportedly invaded the Wajãpi indigenous reserve. On the morning of July 23, indigenous chief Emyra Wajãpi was found stabbed to death close to Waseity village where he lived, according to the Council of Wajãpi Villages (APINA). Three days later, the group of armed men appeared in the neighboring Yvytotõ indigenous village and threatened residents, forcing them to flee to the nearby village of Mariry, according to APINA.
The Wajãpi indigenous reserve, an area of about 6,000 square kilometers rich in gold and other minerals, was demarcated as a protected area in 1996. Half of its territory lies within the National Copper and Associated Reserve (RENCA), created in 1984 to conserve the zone’s natural resources. Then-president Michel Temer tried to abolish the RENCA in 2017, allowing mining companies in. Temer was forced to step back from his decision after international outcry accused him of selling out the Amazon to foreign mining interests. Invasion of indigenous territories by ostensibly illegal mining outfits has escalated dramatically under current President Jair Bolsonaro. (Mongabay)
Photo of Wajãpi indigenous people via Mongabay