top of page

The Bridge Between the Death of Bruno Pereira and Bolsonaro’s Government

Aliyah Sarmiento - Teen Aspect - July 19th, 2022
Supporters from the U.K. holding a poster of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira, (The Independent, 2022)

On June 5, 2022, the world lost Bruno Pereira, an Indigenous expert who devoted his life to protecting the traditional ways of life in the Amazon, alongside British journalist and author, Dom Phillips. The pair had planned a trip to remote parts of the Amazon forest to do research on Phillips’ book, “How to Save the Amazon,” when they were murdered in the Javari Valley, one of the most prominent indigenous territories in Brazil.

Pereira had dedicated his livelihood to protecting and understanding numerous Indigenous tribes and furthering the efforts in conserving the Amazon rainforest, even becoming fluent in five Indigenous languages and becoming the godfather of one of the Indigenous leaders’ sons [1]. He continuously advocated against the growing numbers of loggers, ranchers, and other invaders from harming tribes, an issue that worsened under Brazil’s president, Bolsonaro’s regime.

It is for his undeniable strength in character and impact on preserving Indigenous culture, as well as the environment, that led to global outrage of the lack of action done by Bolsonaro to find the two men when they were last seen on June 5. This sparked after Bolsonaro had spoken out about what he referred to as Philipps and Pereira’s “adventure” as “absolutely wild” [2].

It was statements like these that led to heartbroken employees of Funai, the national Indigenous foundation of Brazil, to participate in a walk-out with demands that Funai’s president, Marcelo Augusto Xavier da Silva, expand safety precautions and protection for staff members working in the Amazon [3].

Funai is the Brazilian government body that is responsible for upholding and promoting the rights and dealing with the policies of Indigenous peoples. It has come under fire in recent years, especially under Bolsonaro’s leadership. Many people have voiced concern over its diminishing commitment to aiding the environment and skepticism over the choices done by the rightwing government.

One such example of questionable decisions included the dismissal of Bruno Pereira from Funai in 2019 after he had just saved the Yanomami Indian reservation from being destroyed by illegal mining [5] . On top of that, deforestation rates have “surged” since Bolsonaro took office in 2019 [4], and he has been a well-established advocate for mining in the Amazon, including Indigenous lands [7]. He has also kept his promise as stated from his 2018 campaign to not, “demarcate a single centimeter of land for Indigenous peoples,” while, simultaneously, lowering budgets going into protecting native communities and environmental management [6].

All of that toppled with the continuous discrimination and violence against the approximate 900,000 Indigenous people in Brazil amplifies the ever-growing concern over the hardships Indigenous communities all over the world have to endure. In fact, in 2020 alone, Brazil saw a 61% increase in the number of murders of Indigenous people compared to the previous year. This was associated with the government’s push in legislation that permitted “commercial mining, oil and gas exploration and the building of hydroelectric dams.” [8]

It is because of these multiple occurrences that have shown the failed efforts done by Bolsonaro’s government to preserve their Indigenous peoples' rich culture, one that Pereira and Phillips had worked so devotedly to protect. Their deaths are ultimately the reflection of Bolsonaro’s policies and lack of action done to protect the marginalized group and combat the ever-growing effects of climate change.


[1] Downie, A. (2022). Bruno Pereira Obituary. The Guardian.

[2] Blight, G., & Hoog, N.D., & Malone, T. (2022).

The disappearance of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira – a timeline. The Guardian.

[3] Downie, A. (2022). Brazil Indigenous agency staff strike over Bruno Pereira disappearance. The Guardian.

[4] Deforestation in Brazil's Amazon worsened in recent months, vice president says. (2021). Reuters.

[5] Downie, A. (2022).

‘Bolsonaro’s fingerprints are all over this’: how president’s war on Amazon played part in double killing. The Guardian.

[6] Verdun, R. (2022). Bolsonaro's strategy to make Indigenous Peoples disappear in Brazil. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs.,of%20land%20for%20Indigenous%20peoples.

[7] Brazil’s Bolsonaro pushes for more mining on Indigenous lands. (2022). Aljazeera.,for%20re%2Delection%20in%20October.

[8] Brazil saw a 61 percent surge in murders of Indigenous people last year, study shows. (2021). Reuters.

[9] The Independent. (2022). Supporters from the U.K. holding a poster of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira [Photo]

Teen Aspect (1)_edited_edited.png
bottom of page