|The FUNAI base which was over-run by suspected drug traffickers. |
© Maria Emília Coelho/ Survival
The Brazilian government says it will dispatch National Security Force agents to help protect a tribe of uncontacted Indians missing after drug traffickers attacked a government guard post.
Last week Survival reported that heavily armed drug traffickers from Peru had surrounded and ransacked the base in the western Brazilian Amazon. Fears for the Indians’ welfare grew after workers from FUNAI (the government’s Indian Affairs department) found a broken arrow inside one of the trafficker’s rucksacks.
FUNAI has made an overflight of the area to look for signs of the uncontacted Indians. It showed their village and plantations were in a good condition. But fears remain high, as there are still no confirmed sightings of the Indians themselves.
Brazil’s National Security Secretary Regina Miki is reportedly calling this a ‘crisis situation’ requiring a ‘permanent occupation by the Ministry of Defence’.
The Indians made worldwide headlines in February. Survival’s Director Stephen Corry described their disappearance as ‘extremely distressing’. He says, ‘Thankfully it looks like steps are now being taken by Brazil to improve security in the area, and hopefully stop this part of the Amazon becoming a haven for drug traffickers. But Peru must do its bit too, because that seems to be where the traffickers are coming from.’
Survival has written to Peru’s President (PDF, 23.4 KB) urging him to prevent further invasions of the Indians’ land and to implement measures to protect the tribes. This map (PDF, 889 KB) shows how close the Peruvian border is to the area inhabited by the uncontacted Indians.