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Breathless Amazon: What the Murder of Bruno and Dom Reveals About Brazilian Politics

Human remains of the Brazilian Indigenist and British journalist who disappeared on 5 June are presumed to be found after Amarildo da Costa Oliveira confessed to murder.


 


Bruno Pereira and Dom Phillips. Two lives disappeared in the lungs of the earth. Where there should be air, life is missing.


 


The alleged human remains of Bruno and Dom were collected this Thursday (16) by the federal police after Amarildo da Costa Oliveira, "Pelado," admitted having committed the crime and indicated the location of the occultation. His brother, Oseney da Costa de Oliveira, known as "Dos Santos," was also arrested during the investigation. A forensic investigation is still awaiting to confirm that these are indeed the bodies of the pair, who disappeared on 5 June.


 


Bruno's murder threatens at least 11 isolated communities living in Vale do Javari. The indigenous expert, who spoke four languages of the local people, was one of the few able to communicate with and protect the natives. Passionate about Brazilian culture, he became the man of trust between our world and the forest. Bruno was the general coordinator of Isolated and Newly Contacted Indians at the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) but was exonerated in 2019 after coordinating an operation that expelled hundreds of miners from Yanomami indigenous land in Roraima. A victim of political persecution, Bruno's dismissal came after pressure from ruralist sectors associated with the government of President Jair Bolsonaro. According to the Union of Indigenous Peoples of Vale do Javari (Univaja), where Bruno went to work after his dismissal, the indigenous leader was dismissed without any internal justification. His dismissal seems to have been the result of the dismantling of environmental institutions that have been taking place in recent years.


 


Brazil has become the country where doing the right thing is a crime and where crime is a casualty. The voice of the executive leaves implicit the absurd fallacy that there would be a share of the blame for the victims who, according to the president Jair Bolsonaro, were behind a "not recommended adventure."


 


To understand what happened in Vale do Javali, it is first necessary to acknowledge the premise that any event in Brazil, at least to some extent, is a political issue. In a government marked by disregard for environmentalists and the endorsement of illegal miners and militias, there is a lot of courage and a belief in impunity. In fact, those who do their work with ethics and mastery are punished in a country where moving forward has become synonymous with inconsequent "adventure," and turning a blind eye has become perennial conduct.


 


On Tupiniquim soil, the assassination of Dom is a threat to information. Contrary to what the president said, journalism is not an adventure or excursion. It is a job, a mission. The journalist, passionate about the forest, was writing a book entitled "How to Save the Amazon." According to his wife, Alessandra Sampaio, he did not demonize the miners. On the contrary, he recognized the complexities of the region and; therefore, went deep into his research in loco in search of bringing tangible solutions for such precious lands. Th book launch was expected in 2023, but unfortunately, its story was prematurely cut short.


 


In whose interest is it to silence these voices? What the murderers did not expect was so much noise being made about the case. In the Amazon, it is the Indians who are shouting in the streets. In Brazil, those who have a minimum of human dignity, and in the world, eyes are shocked at such cruelty on earth and the nefarious indelicacy of the head of the federation. The fact is that, as the case involved an expatriate, the story had to change its course. The exclusive control of the situation by Brazil became more challenging, and that confidence in impunity proved to be fallacious as the so-called "no-man's-land" was claimed in the eyes of the world.


 


Bruno Pereira only wanted the Indians to have the right to live as they wished and Dom Phillips only wanted to share the way for that to happen. It was a reciprocal love between the Indians and them. It is no wonder indigenous people led the search for their brothers in the forest.


The neglect of the Amazonian lands results from a policy of selfish and electoral interests. It results from a lack of knowledge, common sense, and human dignity. The murder of Bruno and Dom reflects a lawless policy that condemns information and values conformation.


 


Contrary to what President Jair Bolsonaro said, it was not the journalist and the indigenous expert who were in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was the administration of a continental country that was nowhere to be found.


 


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