September 09, 2019

Brazilian official who protects Amazon indigenous tribes shot dead
A Brazilian government official who spent more than a decade working to protect indigenous people in the Amazon from loggers, miners and other threats to their way of life has been killed. Maxciel Pereira dos Santos was shot twice in the head in front of his family in an apparent execution, according to a union that represents such workers.  Mr Santos had spent more than 12 years working for Funai, the National Indian Foundation, which is a Brazilian government body that defends the interests of indigenous people.  He was reportedly shot while riding a motorbike down a main street of Tabatinga, located deep in the Amazon rainforest on Brazil’s border with Colombia and Peru.  Officials at INA, a union that represents Funai workers, claimed Mr Santos was killed in retaliation for work at the Vale do Javari reservation, which has the world’s highest concentration of uncontacted indigenous tribes.  An aerial view shows smoke rising over a deforested plot of the Amazon jungle in Porto Velho, Rondonia State, Brazil, in this August 24, 2019 Credit: UESLEI MARCELINO/REUTERS Police are investigating but have not yet determined a motivation for the crime, according to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo.  The killing comes amid international outrage at the destruction of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. More than 80,000 fires were recorded between January and August this year, double last year's number.   Jair Bolsonaro, the Brazilian president, has faced criticism from the international community for failing to do enough to protect the Amazon.  According to Reuters analysis the budget for the government body which protects the rainforest has shrunk by 25 per cent since Mr Bolsonaro took office on January 1.  Funai has three bases in the Vale do Javari to protect an area the size of Austria with some 6,000 residents from eight tribes, and some 16 uncontacted tribes. INA officials called on authorities to demonstrate Brazil “no longer condones violence against those who engage, under the rule of law, in the protection and promotion of indigenous rights”.
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