Guardians of the Amazon (Full Documentary)


[ Insects chirping ] [ Whispering indistinctly ] [ Speaking foreign language ] [ Flames crackling ] ♪♪ -It is the front line of the
world’s most dangerous battle. -Obviously this involves
the entire earth. There are dire consequences
to this. -Thousands of fires
raging across Brazil. -The Amazon Rainforest
is taking a beating. Deforestation rates
have nearly doubled. -One report claims
that the equivalent of three soccer fields are being deforested
every minute in the Amazon. [ Singing in foreign language ] -The people who feel
the impact directly are local indigenous
communities. -As the world reacts
to the Amazon’s destruction, indigenous Brazilians
are on the front lines of the fight to save their land. [ Singing in foreign language ] [ Engines whirring ] -We just landed in Imperatriz, which is a city right on
the outskirts of the Amazon. Now we have a six-hour
car journey, and that just gets us right up
to the edge of the forest. This tribe we’re visiting,
called the Guajajara, say they are under assault
by illegal loggers. Their ancestral homeland lies on
the eastern tip of the Amazon, an island of green surrounded
by a sea of deforestation. -[ Speaking Portuguese ] -The Guajajara say
the devastation has escalated since the election of far-right
president Jair Bolsonaro, known as the Trump
of the Tropics, who has openly called
for developing the Amazon. -In response, the tribe is doing
something extremely rare and extraordinarily dangerous — tracking down and apprehending
illegal loggers. After driving for several hours, we’re now crossing
into indigenous territory. About 20 miles ahead here, we’re
gonna have our first meeting with a group called
the Guardians of the Forest. ♪♪ [ Insects chirping ] As night falls, we meet the
leader of what is essentially an indigenous
paramilitary group. His name is Laércio Guajajara. He’s agreed to let us embed
with his troops as they launch an extended
patrol through the jungle. -[ Speaking foreign language ] [ Engine rumbling ] [ Dogs barking ] [ Motorcycle engine stops ] [ Indistinct talking ] [ Rooster caws ] -It’s now 4:00 in the morning.
We’ve been traveling slowly, picking up members
of the Guardians as we go, and now we apparently have
a full complement — north of 20. And they’re about to launch
a dangerous mission. You guys have a lot of weapons, but these men may be heavily
armed, too. Do you get nervous
before you do this? Over the past two decades,
more than 80 Guajajara have been killed
defending their land. ♪♪ -And we are here. -So, we’re gonna drive all the way up here
and then in here. -Yeah.
-And the loggers are in here? -Yeah. -I’m getting a briefing
from Carlos Quintana, who’s a former federal
law-enforcement official who now volunteers
to help the Guardians, in part by using
satellite imagery to track down
the illegal loggers, or as tribe members
call them, invaders. This is the heavy,
heavy logging right now. -Yes. [ Ignition cranks,
engines rumble ] [ Radio chirps ] -Okay.
[ Radio chirps ] -We’ve stopped here because they
say they see truck tracks, fresh tire tracks
from a large truck that’s gone in this way toward
the indigenous territory. [ Speaking foreign language ] Just before dawn,
fresh intelligence leads us to this
tiny indigenous village. [ Dogs barking ] [ Dog barks ] -Under Brazilian law,
tribes do have a legal right to patrol their own land…
[ Knocking ] …but for this mission,
the Guajajara have decided to bring along an agent
from FUNAI, the Bureau
of Indigenous Affairs. [ Distant wail ]
[ Chatter ] [ Dog barking ] With no answer, the Guardians
move on to the next house. [ Conversation
in foreign language ] They’re interrogating the chief
in this little village here. The suspicion is that these
tribe members may be conspiring or cooperating
with the illegal loggers to let them onto the land. -What’s going on?
-This guy’s the chief, and he’s basically dimeing out
the other families over here saying that they let
the loggers in. As the sun comes up, the Guardians walk over
to the families who the chief accuses
of helping the loggers. ♪♪ With the villagers claiming
not to know where the illegal loggers are, Laércio tells us that the next
step is for the Guardians to head up into the forest
to see for themselves. ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Conversation
in foreign language ] The Guardians are up
against powerful interests. First the loggers come in and cut down
all of the valuable trees. Then the land is burned
and turned into cattle pasture. 80% of the deforestation
in the Amazon is the result
of the cattle industry. Scientists say the Amazon may be
at a crucial tipping point where instead of mitigating
climate change, it may begin to exacerbate it. [ Radio chirps ] He is helping me
hang my hammock. After patrolling all night,
it’s time to take a rest, and there’s no Motel 6 out here, so the way to do it
is to put up some hammocks. -[ Speaks foreign language ] -These are not the
accommodations that I’m used to, but when in Rome. [ Birds chirping, whistling ] [ Motorcycle rumbling ] -[ Speaks indistinctly ] -Our rest is interrupted by
two men on a motorcycle who aren’t supposed to be here. The men claim to be simply
hunting for food. [ Conversation
in foreign language ] [ Engine starts ] With no proof of illegality,
Laércio lets them go. [ Gunshot ]
-[ Grunts ] ♪♪ -[ Sings in foreign language ] -More than 1/3
of the Guajajara’s once sprawling homeland
has now been deforested, and Laércio says that
under President Bolsonaro, the pace of these land grabs
has increased. [ Conversation
in foreign language ] [ Conversation
in foreign language ] The tribe has a selective
relationship with modernity. Laércio’s traditional house has
a satellite dish and WI-FI. On their land, however, lives another small tribe
called the Awá, who have had no contact
with the outside world other than this reported
sighting captured last year by a member of the Guajajara. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Paulo Guajajara is
Laércio’s deputy and second in command
of the Guardians. -Whoo! ♪♪ -Night two and the Guardians
are on the move again. They’ve received a tip
just hours ago that illegal loggers
are operating right over here, and they’re gonna check it out. -[ Speaking foreign language ] -After failing to find loggers
in the last location, they believe this lead
is more solid, and there is a nervous energy
in the air. [ Laughs ] [ Engine rumbling ] -One of the reasons they say
they have to operate in the middle of the night is that if they ran this convoy
during the day, they say it’s possible that one
of their fellow tribe members might tip off
the so-called invaders. That’s the kind of corruption
that runs rampant here. [ Dogs barking ] We’ve just pulled up
on a village where the Guardians have been
told that two outsiders were recently hired to guard
an illegal logging operation. Laércio is wearing
a body camera. -Whoa, whoa, whoa! -This is the first time
we’ve seen the Guardians get this rough. These two young men who they
found outside this building are delivering shifting stories,
at first saying they they had nothing to do
with the logging operation here, but then saying they were forced
to work by the boss. Apparently, the boss is asleep
inside this house. But all we find is a terrified
indigenous mother. She admits her family accepts
small amounts of money from the loggers
to look the other way. Does it make you sad
to see members of your tribe working with people
who are destroying the land? You got a little rough
with these young men over here. What was your thinking there? One of the men admits
he is lying… …and hands over his phone
to the Guardians. On it, they find this —
videos and pictures that provide clear evidence
of illegal logging. ♪♪ The Guardians are now ready
to drive up into the woods and confront the rest
of the loggers, but first, sleep. ♪♪ [ Rooster caws ]
[ Dog barks ] [ Engine starts ] Last night, they busted
the lower-level folks involved with this illegal
logging operation. Now they’re going up this path where the actual illegal loggers
will be at work, and they’re fully expecting
these men to be armed. Among the people
leading the charge, Paulo — Laércio’s number two. ♪♪ ♪♪ On motorcycles at the front
of the pack, Laércio and, it turns out, one of the guards
who was apprehended last night. Now he’s an informant
leading the caravan to his fellow loggers. ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Engine stops, brakes hiss ] [ Conversation
in foreign language ] The informant tells Paulo
we’re getting close. He explains there are
multiple logger camps here, so the Guardians fan out. Paulo leads the larger group
while Laércio runs point in a smaller unit. -[ Blows air ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Heavy breathing ] -Laércio sees something
through the trees. [ Indistinct whispering ] ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking foreign language ] -Vroom, vroom, vroom! -Okay, so Laércio’s telling us
they have a prisoner. He’s got his hand on his pistol,
another hand on a machete. We have no idea
what we’re getting into. They’re marching this prisoner
deeper into the forest. -[ Shouting ] -They’re making the prisoner
call out to his colleagues. -[ Speaking foreign language ] As they interrogate their
prisoner, it’s pretty obvious that there are
a lot of other people here. This is not the only guy
at this camp. I mean, this food is boiling
as we speak. ♪♪ ♪♪ Through the woods, Paulo’s
search party sees something. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ -Shh! -Huh? -Fearing an ambush by the other
loggers still out there, Paulo’s unit tries
to find them first. [ Conversations
in foreign language ] [ Speaking foreign language ] -[ Murmurs ]
-Mm-hmm. -All told, the Guardians
capture seven loggers. Proof of the men’s activities are scattered
across the campsite… …even notes on how much
they cut down and profits made. This wood goes to local
cattle ranchers who build fences
around their area, and they’re selling the stakes
for those fences, and it even shows right here
how much money they’re making. Are the police gonna come
and help you with this? [ Conversations
in foreign language ] Why did you agree
to do this work? Why did you need to do it? Were you shocked when you saw
these masked indigenous people raiding your camp? These are low-level people
you’re dealing with here. How do you go after the bosses? If President Bolsonaro could see
this scene right here, what would you want to
say to him? ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Chatter
in foreign language ] ♪♪ Normally, the Guardians’
next move would simply be to expel
the loggers from their land, but Laércio tells us they’re going to do something
they’ve never done before — bring the suspects to federal
authorities seven hours away. First, though, they have to pass
through the town of Arame, a notorious base
for illegal loggers just outside
of Guajajara territory. [ Conversations
in foreign language ] In 2018, a tribal leader
critical of illegal logging was found dead here. The Guardians wait
for the cover of darkness before heading out
into enemy territory. ♪♪ -By morning, the Guardians
and their prisoners arrive at federal police headquarters
in the city of Imperatriz. When the local media show up,
we realize how unprecedented it is for the Guardians
to have taken the step of bringing the loggers
to authorities. Laércio’s prediction seems
to have been accurate. The next day, the prisoners are
released after having been charged with illegally
entering indigenous territory — a crime that legal experts
tell us is rarely, if ever, prosecuted. The Guardians vow to go
right back to work. [ Protestors chanting ] We, meanwhile, arrive back
in New York City just as the United Nations
Climate Summit is taking place. As protestors decry Brazil’s
environmental policies, President Bolsonaro fights back. While Bolsonaro faces
international condemnation over the fires in the Amazon,
he does have one staunch ally. -With the gentleman, one of the
greatest election wins anywhere in the world
as far as I’m concerned, and he was very proud
of his relationship with President Trump. Brazil and the United States
are as close or closer as they’ve ever been. -We request an interview
with Bolsonaro, but are denied. Instead, the administration
offers up Environmental Minister
Ricardo Salles, a man ridiculed
by environmentalists who call him the fox
in the hen house. He’s been convicted of
an environmental crime for altering official maps
to benefit mining companies, a charge he’s appealing,
and since taking office, he has slashed
his agency’s budget and reduced fines for businesses
that commit environmental crime. We spent some time recently
with an indigenous tribe, and they told us,
quite strenuously, that they believe that because
of your boss’s rhetoric — the rhetoric coming out
of this administration — they’re seeing more and more
of what they call invaders. What would you say to these
people to reassure them? -Some of the indigenous,
they do want to continue to be an isolated group, living their same way of living
that they used before, and we must guarantee that. There are some other indigenous
tribes in different places. They want to have some
sort of economic development. -You just said some things
that sounded reassuring about protecting
indigenous tribes who want to protect
their own way of life. However, your boss has said
a few things that are — seem quite hostile
to indigenous communities. For example, he once praised
the American cavalry for doing a better job of wiping
out our indigenous tribes than the Brazilian cavalry
did many years ago. So, if I’m a member
of an indigenous tribe, why wouldn’t that
make me nervous? -Well, first of all, we need
to make the political statement sometimes apart from what
really happened in government. -Let me see if I understand
you correctly. You’re saying, “Okay, so Bolsonaro
said this awful thing. It’s a political statement.” So in other words,
don’t listen to Bolsonaro. Trust you and your actions.
-No, not me. He is the big leader. He’s the president
who’s doing the correct things. He didn’t do anything wrong,
although sometimes, if people take some comments
out of the context — -Well, how could you take
that out of context? It’s —
-Depends. The problem is when sometimes
people put words in his mouth, things that he didn’t say. -In terms of the future
of indigenous populations, the types of things I’ve heard
from President Bolsonaro seem to indicate that he really wants to just
integrate them into society. -For those who want it, yes.
-Only for those who want to? Because he’s used terms like, you know,
they’re living in a zoo. -People sometimes change
his phrase or his comments
into another situation. I heard from him many,
many times him saying, “We must guarantee
their right of choice.” -So, for these folks,
the indigenous tribe that I spent time with,
can you assure them that they can go on
protecting their way of life and that the government
has their back? -Definitely.
If it’s — it’s the group’s decision to continue their way of life
exactly as it is, and some sort of assurance
that they need from the federal government,
that’s for sure. ♪♪ ♪♪ [ Speaking foreign language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ -[ Sniffles ] [ Cries ] [ Sniffles ] [ Speaking foreign language ] [ Crying, sobbing ] [ Conversation
in foreign language ] -[ Sobbing ] [ Singing ] [ Clapping ] [ Chattering, singing ] -[ Crying ] [ Crying ] ♪♪ -Despite his serious wounds, Laércio stayed only briefly
in the hospital for fear of being hunted down
in the city. He was moved to a safe house
somewhere on indigenous land. Law enforcement visited
the Guajajaras in a sign of solidarity and promised to bring those
responsible to justice. [ Singing in foreign language ] ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪

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Reader Comments

  1. Ethan

    The human species is a pest infestation. More like a virus, we spread, multiply and destroy.

    However, by destroying ecosystems like the Amazon, we are accelerating our own human extinction. Logic will bring you to that conclusion but most of us humans lack a functioning frontal lobe and are solely interested in financial gain.

  2. Sefa Doe

    The ancient micucci tribe are the true Guardians to protect the Amazon rainforest.Legend says that the Amazon rainforest is another entrance into the subterranean hollow Earth.

  3. Brian Salomon

    These people are doing what any one of you all would do. Protect your home. That's what the second amendment is all about. This is not about money or hate.

  4. Brandon Taylor

    I hate bolsonaro I hate Trump they are both a cancer to two mother Earth they and natural in the beautiful biodiversity all these politicians are crooked and have no respect for the or the indigenous they want to do what they did to North America Indians a couple hundred years ago now to South and take their land and destroy it it's all about money greed and oil it's time to kick all those cattle out of the rainforest and anybody that wants to destroy it and drain the land of its natural resources it's time to stand up to these greedy and stand with these get the people that are draining the oil knocking down trees and the illegal loggers out of the Forest stop the gold mining it's time to stand with the indigenous because they are closer to God than anyone they live at peace and harmony with nature they went dowson's of years without destroying the forest how come modern civilization cant we have a lot to learn from these and the things they teach us we should not use they can teach us how to reforest the jungle they know how to take from the land without destroying or killing off all the game they know how to let the food chain repopulate they know natural medicines that we don't that can help people instead of all these counterfeit drugs

  5. René Recappé

    They want to destroy the earth and escape to mars. Don't they realize that without the earth they won't survive , even all the way in mars. We all gonna go.

  6. D Valenzuela

    This is happening all over the world with regards to its rainforest. Illegal loggers and animal poachers. Those who defend the rainforest get killed or get bribed. Really sad. God bless us all.

  7. Steve R

    Haha so they burn it that’s worse then what the loggers were going to do with it big waste of time and trees we can do more then talk on the internet about things most people act like they care about. Most people that complain about things but don’t do anything to try and help the situation.

  8. Tom Fredrick

    Nature can serve only of your need not for your greed…. You wanna stop this….stop fucking buying things for your show off… It's because of people like you and me, he died… It's all on us.

  9. Hunter the Vegan

    “80% of the deforestation in the Amazon is is the result of the cattle industry” Well if that’s not a reason to go vegan, I don’t know what is.

  10. J. M.

    But yeah Tracy no reporting of the major ABC NBC CBS of white genocide squatter camps in South Africa. An ABC owns the biggest corporation of slave labor fox in communist China. Who investigates ABC for that.

  11. ATAHUALPA867

    It kills me to see this warrior crying. Sad. Frustrated, angry that down deep no help will come . Their way of life may be gone soon and United nations does nothing to restrain Brazil's government siding with ranchers. Keep on warriors.

  12. Jamie

    What ever happened to all that money raised in the 90s to save the rainforests? I thought really rich folks were buying up the land to protect it?

  13. Alyssa Foster

    EVERYBODY PLEASE HELP SHARE THIS ON SOCIAL MEDIA!
    LET THIS GO VIRAL!
    THE AMAZON IS THE EARTHS' LUNGS!
    THIS DOES NOT JUST EFFECT THE INDIGENOUS TRIBES THIS EFFECTS THE WHOLE WORLD AS WELL!

    PLEASE HELP THIS GO VIRAL !
    SHARE THIS DOCUMENTARY !

  14. Schizophrenia Sometimes

    I don’t believe that this truly correct,I think that the people are getting paid for acting,the producers give the village people a little money and tell them what to do

  15. bonitinha sk8

    Meanwhile here in Brazil bolsonaro is passing laws that facilitate the extraction of the forests saying that it is for the indians to exploit their lands and be independent. But we all know that's for the loggers

  16. The Fishy Life !

    13:35 dude just fired a shot at potentially innocent citizens ….. I think this group is doing the right thing but absolutely the wrong way!!!!!!!!

  17. Pual Cruz

    This should be mainstream news!! It effects us all. Instead we watch the stupid Kardashian's show and waste time and energy on unimportant events.

  18. Heidi Sutton

    This been happening since like forever, the white men invading someone's else's land👎🤔,except this time they're getting a little bit of their own medicine.

  19. Shawn Erickstad

    So they are selling wood to local ranchers for fence. The Amazon is mostly being destroyed for the Brazilian cattle industry but the Brazilian government is helping destroy the Amazon for profit

  20. Harry

    Whats with calling the Hispanic Loggers "White Men" is that just ABC pushing more Woke SJW propaganda or are the indigenous peoples just falsely referring to them that way?

  21. Felipe Fábio

    this documentary is a real scam! I live in the Amazon area and what this documentary shows is a lie! There is deforestation in the Amazon, but not as shown in the video. you don't know how the peoples of the Amazon live, you don't know anything. how is the life of the people here. you have no position to come here in my country and disparage brazil for the whole world.

  22. Flockdra

    Once they are captured, what happens next without the camera man around? They are suspect also. I understand they believe what they are doing is right but they should leave it to the professionals

  23. 124 Spider

    The biggest cancer are HUMANS!
    Wait till we stop breathing when there are not enough trees to provide us with oxygen. It is bloody criminal!
    Greed driven from higher up the chain.
    Remove the ones paying them and you stop the supply chain.

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