Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, a tragic end for two lovers of the Amazon

(File) Correspondent Dom Phillips visits a mining area in Roraima, on November 14, 2019 – AFP

British journalist Dom Phillips and Brazilian indigenist Bruno Pereira, who disappeared for 11 days and whose bodies were buried in the Amazon, according to a suspect in the crime this Wednesday, were great enthusiasts of the largest tropical forest on the planet.

– Phillips, a journalist passionate about the Amazon –

Phillips, 57, was a contributor to the British newspaper “The Guardian” and had worked in Brazil for 15 years. He lived in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and, a few years ago, moved to Salvador with his wife, Brazilian Alessandra Sampaio.

Passionate about the Amazon, where he wrote dozens of articles, the British journalist had been in the region for several days working on a book on environmental preservation and local development, with support from the Alicia Patterson foundation.

In his career as a reporter in Brazil, he wrote, among other topics, about the advance of illegal mining and agriculture in protected areas in Brazil, as a contributor to newspapers such as “The New York Times”, “Washington Post” and “Financial Times”.

“Linda Amazônia”, he praised on May 30 on Instagram, in one of the last posts he shared, along with a video sailing down a river in a small boat.

Before arriving in Brazil in 2007, Phillips was writing about music in the UK. He was editor of “Mixmag” magazine and published a book on DJ culture.

He was attracted by this musical universe that he arrived in São Paulo, where he ended up living. “He felt at home in Brazil,” a group of foreign correspondents who are friends of Phillips said in an open letter last week.

In parallel with his profession, he was involved as a volunteer in social projects in communities in Rio de Janeiro and Salvador.

“His friends know him as a smiling guy, who wakes up before dawn to do stand-up paddle”, adds the note from colleagues, who assure that Phillips is “anxiously” waiting for the procedures “to be able to adopt a child”.

– Pereira, a ‘courageous and dedicated’ indigenist targeted by threats –

Bruno Pereira, 41, was an expert at the National Indian Foundation (Funai) and a well-known advocate for indigenous rights. He was Funai’s regional coordinator in Atalaia do Norte, the municipality where he was traveling with Phillips when they both disappeared.

In addition, he coordinated Funai’s Isolated and Newly Contacted Indigenous Unit, where he was in charge of one of the largest expeditions in recent times to contact isolated groups and avoid conflicts between ethnic groups.

He was currently on leave, working with NGOs on projects to improve surveillance in the villages of Vale do Javari, a remote indigenous territory on the Peruvian border, threatened by pressure from drug traffickers, fishermen, loggers and illegal miners.

His work in defense of indigenous peoples has earned him regular threats from these criminal groups.

When they disappeared, Pereira accompanied the British journalist as a guide through this isolated region of the Amazon, on the duo’s second trip through this isolated region since 2018.

The indigenist was married and the father of three children. Each time he entered the forest, he brought “this passion with the aim of helping others,” the family said in a statement released days after the disappearance.

He was “brave and dedicated”, concluded Fiona Watson, director of research at the NGO Survival International.

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