By Paula Buzzi
Impunity Watch Reporter, South America
BRASILIA, Brazil – An isolated Indian tribe living in the Amazon Basin rainforest has gone missing and is feared to have been massacred by Peruvian drug traffickers after an attack earlier this week on the Brazilian guard station put in place to protect them.
The tribe was first introduced in February after Brazil’s Indian Affairs Department released aerial film and still images of the tribe members covered in red body paint.
Since the discovery of the tribe, the National Indian Foundation of Brazil has tried to protect them from outsiders by placing guard posts around their territory in western Brazil.
On Monday, however, the human rights group “Survival International” stated that Brazilian officials have found no trace of the tribe after a group of men armed with sub-machine guns ransacked the guard posts.
Brazilian officials fear a tragic fate for the tribe after finding a 44 pound package of cocaine in the tribe’s territory and a broken arrow inside one of the attacker’s backpacks.
According to members of Survival International, the attackers are believed to be Peruvian drug traffickers who most likely used the tribe’s land, which is only 12 miles from the Peruvian border, as an entry point into Brazil. Some members of Survival International believe the attackers could also have been investigating a clearing to grow the cocaine plant, Coca.
Since the attack, Jose Carlos Meirelles, the former head of the guard station, and other guards have reported seeing several groups of armed men traveling around the area. Despite the imminent danger, Meirelles and his guards plan to stay at the posts for the protection of the Indians.
In a statement earlier this week, the head of the government’s isolated Indians department, Carlos Travassos said: “this situation could be one of the biggest blows we have ever seen in the protection of uncontacted Indians in recent decades.”
The tribe is believed to be among roughly 68 other isolated civilizations that live in the Amazon today and have never been contacted by the outside world.
A police team has embarked on a hunt for the attackers and Survival International has stated they will take all possible measures to make sure a similar attack does not occur again.
For more information, please see:
International Times – Uncontacted Amazon Tribe ‘Massacred’ by Peruvian Drug Traffickers – 10 August 2011
CNN – Amazon tribe may have fallen victim to drug traffickers – 09 August 2011
MSNBC – Reclusive Amazon tribe missing after attack – 09 August 2011
Survival International – Guard post for uncontacted Indians over-run by “drug traffickers” – 08 August 2011