BRASILIA (Reuters) – A government official and leading expert on isolated Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) tribes was killed by an arrow that struck him in the chest as he approached an indigenous group he was seeking to shield, friends and a police witness said on Thursday.
Rieli Franciscato, 56, had spent his career as an official in the government’s indigenous affairs agency Funai, working to set up reservations that protect uncontacted tribes.
On Wednesday, as he moved close to a hitherto uncontacted indigenous group, he was hit by an arrow above the heart in the forest near the Uru Eu Wau Wau reservation in the western Brazilian state of Rondonia near the border with Bolivia.
“He cried out, pulled the arrow from his chest, ran 50 meters and collapsed, lifeless,” a policeman who accompanied the expedition said in an audio posted on social media.
The Kaninde ethno-environmental defense NGO he helped found in the 1980s said the indigenous group had no ability to distinguish between a friend or a foe from the outside world.
His death comes at a time when indigenous people in Brazil are under increasing threat from invasions by illegal land grabbers, loggers and gold miners, emboldened by the policies of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro who wants to develop the Amazon and reduce the size of indigenous reservations.
“We are feeling bewildered by so many deaths in this Brazil that no longer respects indigenous rights,” said Ivaneide Cardozo, his friend and co-founder of the Kaninde association.
Brazilian official for uncontacted Amazon tribes killed by indigenous arrow
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