Paulinho Paiakan, who is best known for defending indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest, has died of coronavirus. Paiakan, who was around 65 years of age was the chief of Kayapo people. He came to the international spotlight in the 1980s during the fight against Brazil's Belo Monte hydroelectric project, which is the world's third-largest dam, reported BBC.

However, back in 1998, he was convicted of raping an 18-year-old. Also, his wife was found guilty as she assisted him in the attack. But his allies argue that the act was fabricated to defame and tarnish his reputation and so to silence him.

Heavily Hit Region

Paulinho Paiakan
Paulinho Paiakan Twitter

Paiakan died this Wednesday at a hospital in northern Pará state as he was admitted for the treatment of COVID-19. The region has been hit heavily by the coronavirus pandemic as a result of which the indigenous communities are suffering to a large extent.

Gert-Peter Bruch, the founder of environmental group Planet Amazon, told AFP that Paiakan worked all his life building worldwide alliances around indigenous peoples to save the Amazon forest and its inhabitants. "He was far ahead of his time. We've lost an extremely valuable guide," Bruch added.

The State Of Amazon

World Earth Day 2017
The Amazon rainforest, Brazil Reuters

The first case of coronavirus was reported in Amazon's community in early April. Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), the country's principal indigenous federation said that COVID-19 cases rose from 46 on May 1 to 262 on June 9.

APIB's statistics also show that 9.1 percent of indigenous people contracting the disease die, that's almost double the rate seen in the general Brazilian population (5.2 percent). The attorney general's report released earlier this month voiced concern that the infected workers may have spread the novel coronavirus to other villages.

The report further says that steep budget cuts and heightened reassignments to the personnel at the National Indian Foundation -- a Brazilian government body carrying out policies relating to indigenous peoples -- has increased illegal incursions into the reserve by prospectors, fishermen, and animal poachers bringing the virus with them.