Bruno Pereira, an expert on indigenous communities in Brazil, has died at the age of 41

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São Paulo, Brazil – Authorities confirmed Saturday that Bruno Araujo Pereira, a Brazilian expert on isolated indigenous communities who led arduous expeditions to remote areas of the Amazon rainforest, was killed in an attack in the Javari Valley of western Brazil. He was 41 years old.

The authorities announced that the human remains recovered from the isolated forest site belong to Mr. Pereira and Dom Phillips, a Brazil-based contributor to The Guardian and former contracts writer for The Washington Post. Police said a fisherman this week confessed to killing the two men while they were traveling along an uninhabited river leading to the city of Atalaya de Norte. The fishermen led the investigators to the burial place of the remains.

Police said Mr. Pereira and Phillips were shot dead. At least three men are under arrest.

Mr Pereira, a long-time official with the Brazilian Indigenous Protection Agency, was accompanying his friend and frequent travel companion on a cover trip for a book the British journalist was writing About conservation in the Amazon. The men were traveling the Itaquai River to meet watch teams of indigenous people who were plotting criminal activity and defending their lands against invaders.

This was the kind of work that Mr. Pereira devoted his career to, collaborating closely with indigenous communities and studying the whereabouts of unconnected peoples threatened by the encroachment of modernity. A passionate advocate for the Amazon, Mr. Pereira has earned the trust of Indigenous partners by including and investing in their communities, according to his friends and colleagues. He can understand several languages ​​in the Javari Valley. He was often heard singing Aboriginal songs. He loved telling stories, his friends and colleagues say, and had a witty universal sense of humor that allowed him to connect with groups often suspicious of strangers.

Dom Phillips, a journalist who recorded deforestation in the Amazon region, has died at the age of 57

“When everyone was desperate, Bruno was the guy who calmed the team down,” said Lucas Albertoni, the doctor who accompanied Mr. Pereira on several missions. “Even in the most dangerous and tense situations, he makes a joke and everyone laughs. The jokes are so universal that both whites and indigenous people laugh.”

Since his disappearance on June 5, his friends have joked that if he had been found, he would have cursed them: “You took so long!”

Mr. Pereira often went on weeks-long excursions by boat and on foot into the dense jungle of the Javari Valley, home to the world’s largest concentration of uncontacted: indigenous communities that avoided the outside world and are supposed to be protected. It is a larger lawless area than South Carolina where the state’s absence has allowed widespread illegal mining, fishing and logging.

Mr. Pereira had received death threats over the years, most recently from poachers shortly before his last trip. But he was known as a meticulous researcher and guide, carefully planning routes and strategy with the help of local Aboriginal communities.

“He was someone who studied and researched deeply,” said Leonardo Lenin, a friend with the Human Rights Watch on Segregated Indigenous Peoples who was recently contacted. Lenin said Mr. Pereira believed in the importance of engaging in the region, saying, “Our feet must be on the ground, we must smell the fire together, and feel it in ourselves.”

Lenin said it was done It is particularly “painful and disgusting” to hear President Jair Bolsonaro accuse Mr. Pereira of embarking on an “adventure”.

Bolsonaro, a right-wing advocate for the development of the Amazon and . said A critic of environmental constraints.

Mr. Pereira’s wife, Beatrice Matos, told Brazil’s Globo TV she had been injured and insulted by the president’s words.

“These statements contradict the extreme dedication, seriousness and commitment that Bruno has in his work,” she said. “If his workplace and our workplace and the workplaces of many others become a dangerous place, where we need armed guards to be able to work, then there is so much wrong there. And the problem is not with us. It is with the person who allowed this to happen.”

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He met Pereira Matos, the anthropologist, in the Javari Valley in 2015, according to a family friend. Mr. Pereira was the father of three children, a 16-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, and two children, aged 2 and 3, from Matos.

Mr. Pereira was born in the state of Pernambuco located in northeastern Brazil along the Atlantic coast. he is go first To the Amazon in the early 2000s as an employee of a company doing reforestation work around a hydroelectric power plant near Manaus. He joined the State Indigenous Agency, FUNAI, in 2010 and rose to the position of General Coordinator of Secluded Communities, working in Brasilia.

Under his leadership, in 2019 the agency carried out the largest Aboriginal outreach campaign since the 1980s. That same year, he orchestrated an operation that dismantled an illegal mining scheme in the Javari Valley.

Then Bolsonaro came to power – and quickly cut the agency’s funding. Mr. Pereira has been removed from his post.

Accompany Mr. Pereira Phillips on a 17-day trek in the Javari Valley for 2 Article 2018 In the Guardian. Phillips began the story with a description of Sabah with Mr. Pereira: “Dressing in shorts and flip-flops while sitting in the mud by a fire, Bruno Pereira, an official at the Brazilian government’s Indigenous Agency, cracked open the skull of a monkey with a spoon and ate its brain at breakfast as he discussed politics.”

Mr. Pereira said Phillips on the challenges of working with a government that was depriving the agency of vital resources. But he downplayed the difficulties officials like him face.

“It’s not about us,” Mr. Pereira was quoted as saying. “Aborigines are the heroes.”

Until his death, he worked as an advisor to the Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Javari Valley, or Univaja. He was training indigenous people who did not speak Portuguese to use satellite technology to map invasions into their lands. When he accompanied Phillips on his last trip, he was not working in an official capacity.

Throughout his career, Mr. Pereira believed in the importance of avoiding contact with isolated indigenous people. But as Phillips wrote, monitoring missions provided “invaluable intelligence” to help protect those communities.

Mr. Pereira made contact with isolated communities only to prevent conflict with other groups. Artur Nobre Mendez, former president of FUNAI, said that in 2019, he helped broker an agreement between Corobo and Matis in the Javari Valley so that one would not encroach on the other’s territory. Nobre said that when Mr. Pereira approached Kurobo, he brought with him some of the Kurobo whom he had already contacted.

“There are many dilemmas we went through in making this decision, and many other dilemmas even to get these images of them for the whole world to see,” Mr. Pereira told TV Globo of the expedition in 2019. The right to choose how to live and own their land, and we will continue to fight for it. It’s time for everyone to come out of their own bubble and understand that there are other Brazilians out there. “

American missionaries have long attempted to convert the “unreached” in the Amazon. Now indigenous groups are resisting.

Albertoni, the doctor who accompanied Mr. Pereira on the expeditions, said Mr. Pereira was keen to learn ancestral songs important to the culture of the communities in which he spent time. He recalled seeing Mr. Pereira sing with the Canamari community while they drank ayahuasca, a traditional psychoactive drink sacred in many indigenous cultures.

“You can see how much enlightened Bruno was,” Albertoni said. “Out there in the dark, you can’t tell the difference between him and the indigenous people who sing in their language, because his relationship with them and their culture was so strong.”

Albertoni said he began teaching his young children Kanamare songs.

“What struck me was his sensitivity and interest in learning more,” said Beto Marubo, Coordinator with Univaja and member of the Marubo community. He described Mr. Pereira as a “jovial and jovial person” who managed to connect with indigenous people who were often conservative. “The aborigines came to respect him as an expert in the jungle… for the dangers and knowledge that the jungle offers.”

A member of the Kanamare community, who was with Mr. Pereira in the days and hours before his disappearance, described his death as “a great loss for all of the Javari people”.

“We lost a great man who fought for indigenous lands and the Amazon rainforest,” said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of his safety. “He was always motivating us, in the most difficult moments, to walk and raise our heads.”