Tragedy in the jungle

Aldo Rebelo is a journalist who presided over the Chamber of Deputies, was rapporteur for the Forest Code and minister in the portfolios of Political Coordination and Institutional Relations; of Sport; Science, Technology and Innovation and Defense

Aldo Rebelo

Translation by Silvia Benchimol e Ewerton Branco


The tragic death of British journalist Dom Phillips and Funai licensed employee Bruno Araújo Pereira in the remote Javari River valley has increased the presence of the Amazon on the international agenda and the pressure to relativize Brazilian sovereignty in the region.

Occasional celebrities and personalities from a sector of the “left-wing politics”, which has lost reference to the centrality of the national issue, take advantage of the brutal crime to present the thesis of internationalization of the Amazon or, in other words, to propose its conversion into a protectorate administered by the United States of America, its NGOs and its large pharmaceutical laboratories, which, in turn, would have at their disposal the biodiversity reserve of our waters and forests. I belong to a time when attitudes of such nature had a very clear definition: national betrayal.

The Javari Valley is part of the western Brazilian Amazon, called by the chronicler and historian Craveiro Costa as “the western desert”, in a precious book he left on the history of the region. Costa lived there in the beginning of the last century.

In fact, the tragedy of Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira should reveal another tragedy – the abandonment of the indigenous populations, caboclos, riverside people, fishermen, rubber tappers, miners and about 23 million Brazilians who live in the Amazon left to their own devices. The region will be at the center of the debate at the next UN Biodiversity Conference to be held in August this year in China. But the Amazon, which holds 30% of the planet's biodiversity, coveted by large pharmaceutical companies in wealthy countries, is the same place where the poorest portion of the Brazilian population live and present the highest rates of infectious diseases, infant mortality and illiteracy.

Brazil cyclically revives what I refer as the Curse of Tordesillas, that is, our inability to truly incorporate what our valiant Portuguese ancestors have bequeathed to us by right. The demographic, economic, infrastructure, roads, railways, infovias integration is a still distant aspiration of the populations of the great river valley.

Between 1835 and 1840, the province of Grão-Pará. at the time, burned in the Cabanos' rebellion, an uprising of indigenous peoples, caboclos, farmers and merchants dissatisfied with their abandonment by the government. The rebels took the capital, Belém, and were defeated at great cost. Many among the elite of the time considered the possibility of giving the Amazon over to the British if that were the price to defeat the insurgents, a thesis that reappears today under the pretext of protecting nature against the dissatisfaction of the ethnic and social successors of the 19th century cabanos.

The Amazon is Brazilian and will remain so as long as Brazil is able to offer a project to develop its economy and infrastructure; to protect and integrate their indigenous populations with the full right to health, education, running water and electricity in their homes; and to promote a complete inventory of its natural resources, with the participation of local, national and foreign universities invited, accompanied by a program for the protection of these resources and the repression of crimes against them.