Brazil: Plane Carrying 7 Indigenous People Disappear In Amazon

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF GLOBAL VOICES)

 

A plane carrying seven indigenous people disappeared in the Amazon rainforest, but few in Brazil are talking about it

Area where the plane disappeared in Amapá, northern Brazil | Image: Reproduction/Google Maps

On December 2nd, a small plane took off around Matawaré village, deep in the Amazon rainforest, in the northern state of Amapá. On board was an indigenous woman of the Akuriyó group, her son-in-law, and a family of the Tiriyó group – a teacher, his wife, and three small children. The pilot was Jeziel Barbosa de Moura, 61, who is experienced in the region.

The region’s indigenous people frequently fly from the most remote villages to the town of Laranjal do Jari, located 265 km away from the state capital, Macapá (the journey by car from one to the other takes around four hours). A one-hour chartered flight costs around 3000 Brazilian reais (around 770 USD).

Twenty-five minutes after takeoff, Jeziel sent a radio message saying that he needed to make an emergency landing. Radar contact with the plane was lost after that. According to information from the news outlet G1, he was flying clandestinely without having previously disclosed a flight plan.

Fifteen days after the plane went missing, the Brazilian Air Force announced they were suspending searches for survivors. The mission amounted to 128 hours of flight in total. Two planes and a helicopter searched an area of 12,000 km2, roughly equivalent to 12,000 football pitches. However, the thick forest made the work difficult.

According to state news agency Agência Brasil, friends of the pilot and indigenous people from four groups – Apalai, Akuriyó, Tiriyó and Waiana – continued the search on their own, on the ground, until a month after the disappeareance, in January 2. The Association of Indigenous Peoples and Organizations of Amapá State and Northern Pará published a message condemning the Air Force’s decision to suspend the search.

The group recalled that the improvement of landing strips for indigenous communities is a longstanding issue. This negligence could have hindered rescue searches. G1 reports that there are 49 landing strips yet to be brought up to official standards in indigenous territories across Brazil, according to the Federal Prosecution’s Office. In Amapá state alone, “there are 17 irregular strips, which are used for the transport of health and education professionals, and indigenous people themselves”.

This case, although noted by some national websites and newspapers, has not made to the main headlines in Brazil. Eight people disappeared in the world’s largest rainforest and most of the country has not even heard about it.

The families

G1, a large mainstream online news site in Brazil that has been following the case, talked to relatives of passengers and the pilot. All of them said they were in “despair” and that they were waiting for help from the Army to search for the disappeared in the thick forest. The fear is heightened because it is a race against time.

The pilot’s daughter, Flávia Moura, said:

My father knows the region, he has been flying for a long time, so we know that he tried to land somewhere, but that in the forest it is difficult to find. We know the difficulty of air rescue, but we want to find him, and so we gathered some miners and indigenous friends of my father, who are in the forest. But we want help from the Army which is prepared for this.

Sataraki Akuriyó, son of the oldest passenger on board told the website:

My mother I won’t see again, and so I wanted to find at least the plane or her body. Since they fell I have been suffering a lot.

Silence

On the same day the Air Forced announced the end of the searches, then president-elect Jair Bolsonaro, who took office on January 1st, declared his intention to revise the demarcation of the indigenous reserve Raposa Terra do Sol, so that it can be exploited it in a “rational way”.

Within the reserve’s 1.7 million hectares, there are around 17,000 indigenous people from five groups – Macuxi, Wapixana, Ingarikó, Taurepang and Patamona. In an article, lawyer Lucio Augusto Villela da Costa recalled that the area is “known for being rich in minerals such as tin, diamonds, gold, niobium, zinc, caulim, amethyst, copper, diatomite, barytes, molybdenum, titanium, limestone, as well as having the second largest reserve of uranium on the planet.”

The idea of exploiting the lands, according to specialists, is “unconstitutional” under Brazilian law. His plan would go against the article of Brazil’s 1988 Constitution which provides the right for indigenous people to “maintain lands, way of life, and traditions”.

The website De Olho nos Ruralistas (“eye on the ruralists”, in English) which reports on conflicts over land and politics in Brazil, interviewed the anthropologist Denise Fajardo, researcher at the Institute for Research and Training in Indigenous Education, about the case of the disappeared plane. For her, the current political approach and the way that the case has been reported are not isolated:

The matter is not being discussed because the lives of indigenous people is not important at the moment, we are living through an anti-indigenous time and they are considered to be an obstacle to the country’s development. We can draw parallels even with the children lost in a cave in Thailand, which has had more attention from the press.

She added that indigenous people from the region often leave their villages to deal with personal matters and that there they feel isolated.

The Tumucumaque National Park is a small area which belongs to them and was where the state put them, or rather where the state isolated them. The region is difficult to access and no means of transport are provided to this population, who stay confined there to the village.

The village Mataware, where the disappeared plane left from, is only accessible bycanoe or plane. In the night of 17 December, another plane carrying indigenous passengers had an accident in the Amazon. This time, near the border with Peru. The three passengers were rescued alive by the Air Force.

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12 dead in bank robbery attempts, police shootout in Brazil

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BOSTON HERALD)

 

12 dead in bank robbery attempts, police shootout in Brazil

Forensic officers load the body of a victim killed in an attempted bank robbery, at an entrance of a municipal hospital in Milagres, in Brazil’s state of Ceara, Friday, Dec. 7, 2018. Brazilian authorities say that at least 12 people have been killed in two attempted bank robberies in Milagres downtown area. (Antonio Rodrigues/Diario do Nordeste via AP)

PUBLISHED:  | UPDATED: 

By MARCELO SILVA DE SOUSA

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — At least 12 people, including two children, were killed Friday when police engaged in a shootout with bank robbers, according to authorities in northeastern Brazil.

The two attempted heists in the state of Ceara began around 2:30 a.m. in the downtown area of the city of Milagres, police said in a statement.

News portal G1 reported that the robbers blocked off a road into the downtown and took hostages as they began entering two banks on the same street. When police responded, a firefight ensued, leading to several deaths.

Lielson Macedo Landim, the mayor of Milagres, told G1 the hostages were executed by the criminal group and not killed by police fire. Macedo Landim said that two children, between 10 and 13 years old, were among the dead hostages.

His account could not be immediately verified, as police did not respond to numerous email and phone requests for more information about the shootout or how the hostages died.

Two suspects were apprehended, and several fled, according to the police statement. Authorities also seized three vehicles, several firearms and explosives.

Andre Costa, secretary of public security in Ceara, said that six of the dead were the attackers. Authorities have yet to release identities of the dead.

To search for the remaining would-be robbers, the city announced on its Facebook page that it was suspending public services and urged residents to remain in their homes.

Latin America’s largest nation routinely is the world leader in total annual homicides. Ceara is one of the country’s most violent states.

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Brazil: Former President Lula Is Being Pressured To Accept House Arrest

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE BRAZILIAN NEWS AGENCY 247)

 

 

247 –  Former President Lula is receiving pressure from friends, co-religionists and relatives to agree to the request for house arrest, reports columnist Monica Bergamo. According to the journalist, Lula  always rejected the idea, since the former president wants to have the innocence recognized. According to close people, he continues to resist the possibility. But because of the prolonged prison situation, people who visit it are willing to insist on it.

The Folha de S. Paulo newspaper reports that “Lula’s chance to obtain the benefit of completing the rest of his sentence at home came in June, when attorney Sepúlveda Pertence handed over a memorial to the Federal Supreme Court (STF) the request. “Lula, however, repelled the idea.”

He adds that “even if the former president now agrees and the lawsuit is resubmitted, it is not certain that he will be heard by the court.”

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