Bolsonaro: Missing Briton, indigenous leader may have been executed

Brasilia, Jun 7 (EFE).- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday said he hoped that the British journalist and indigenous affairs official who disappeared in a remote part of Amazonia “will be found,” but he admitted that they may have been “executed.”

In an interview with SBT television, Bolsonaro commented on the disappearance of British journalist Dom Phillips, working with The Guardian, and indigenous leader Bruno Araujo Pereira, who were last seen on Sunday morning in the Javari Valley, one of the more remote portions of the Amazon region.

Bolsonaro said that, since Sunday, when the report of the pair’s disappearance came out, police and military authorities in the region have been searching for the two men, adding that statements of people who had had contact with Phillips and Araujo in recent days have also been taken.

In addition, he said that the two men may have been careless by entering the region.

“Really, two people in a boat, in a … completely savage region, is not recommended,” since in that area “anything could happen,” the president said.

“It could have been an accident, it could have been that they were executed,” but “we hope and ask God that they will be found quickly,” Bolsonaro said.

The Javari Valley is a large region of rivers and jungle in the middle of the Amazon zone, bordering on Peru and home to the largest number of isolated indigenous communities in the world. The zone is threatened by illegal fishing and mining and in recent years it has become a drug trafficking route.

Phillips and Araujo’s trail, the latter of whom was well acquainted with the area, was lost when they headed out from the community of Sao Rafael toward the city of Atalaia do Norte, in Amazonas state, where they were supposed to have arrived on Sunday morning.

They were traveling in a new boat, with 70 liters (18.5 gallons) of gasoline, enough for the trip, and they were spotted for the last time in the vicinity of the village of Sal Gabriel, some kilometers from Sao Rafael.

Araujo, who has worked for years in that region, has been the target of assorted threats by illegal mining mafias, loggers and even drug traffickers operating in the region, and some of his friends had feared for his life.

Phillips, meanwhile, is a veteran journalist who has lived in Brazil for the past 15 years and who has collaborated with assorted international media outlets such as The Financial Times, The New York Times and The Washington Post, among others, although he is currently working on gathering information for a book about the Javari Valley.

EFE ed/mat/ads/bp

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