Bloomberg — President Jair Bolsonaro said he fears the worst may have happened to a British journalist and an expert on indigenous peoples who went missing four days ago in the Brazilian Amazon after receiving threats.
Brazilian authorities have been searching for Dom Phillips, a regular contributor to the Guardian newspaper, and Bruno Araujo Pereira since they disappeared during a boat trip on a river near the triple border of Brazil, Colombia and Peru -- a known smuggling route used by drug traffickers.
“We have no news on their whereabouts,” Bolsonaro told reporters Thursday as he left a hotel in Los Angeles before heading to a bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden. “We pray to God that they’re found alive but that chance diminishes with each passing day.”
Pereira, who works for Brazil’s National Indian Foundation, FUNAI, has reportedly received death threats for his activism against illegal mining, poaching and logging.
Phillips, who has reported on Brazil for nearly 15 years, is currently working on a book about the environment. He and Pereira were doing interviews with local communities about monitoring illegal fishing and hunting operations.
Brazil’s Justice Minister Anderson Torres told reporters separately in Los Angeles that 300 troops, two aircrafts and 20 vessels were deployed in the search of the two men in the Amazon, which is a region of great difficulty to navigate. He also met with British diplomat Vicky Ford to brief her on the situation.
“I showed her what Brazil is doing to address this situation,” Torres said. “Since the first moment, Brazilian security forces have been working hard. It is a serious matter.”