“Brazil had taken him”: who is Dom Phillips, the journalist who disappeared in the Amazon with his guide

Few people have ever been able to enter the Vale of Javari. Larger than Austria, located in northern Brazil, it is one of the densest forest areas in the world. About twenty indigenous peoples live there, the majority of them being totally cut off from the world. It is here that the British journalist Dom Phillips and his guide, Bruno Pereira, have not been seen since June 5. They could have been targeted by criminals because of their investigation.

So what happened to Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira? “Something nasty” has been done to them, predicted Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. “Given the time that has passed, already eight days, it will be very difficult to find them alive. I pray to God that this is the case, but the information we have makes us fear otherwise,” he added. The Brazilian embassy in the United Kingdom had announced to the family of Dom Phillips the discovery of two bodies, before this was denied by the authorities. Only “human viscera were found floating on the river”, and are waiting to be identified, explained the Brazilian president… leaving everyone in the expectation.

Writing a book to “save” the Amazon

For Dom Phillips, this trip to the Amazon was to be one of his last, wrote the Guardian, which regularly hired him for articles on Brazil. The 57-year-old journalist, originally from Merseyside in the United Kingdom, had undertaken the writing of a book on “realistic ways to save the rainforest”, said in a press release the Alicia Patterson Foundation which helped him finance his project. This book was to be called “How to save the Amazon”, added the journalist’s relatives.

Did his investigations cost him his life? He and his guide had “received threats on the ground the week of their disappearance”, revealed two organizations specializing in indigenous peoples. Bruno Pereira, specialist and defender of indigenous peoples, had been the subject of threats for a long time. The terrain is hostile: the Javari Valley finds itself under pressure from drug traffickers, fishermen, loggers and clandestine gold diggers.

Dom Phillips’ story is first a love story with Brazil and then the Amazon. He moved there in 2007, to Salvador, to finish writing one of his books, “Superstar DJs Here We Go! », devoted… to clubbing. Before moving to Brazil, Dom Phillips was editor-in-chief of MixMag magazine, was a lifestyle columnist for the Independent and worked on these topics for The Guardian, Observer Life, The Face, The Big Issue, Q and Arena. as mentioned on his author biography.

“Brazil had seized him”

Never after what must have been a parenthesis Dom Phillips did not return from South America. “Brazil had taken hold of him and, in a short time, he had carved out a new career for himself as a respected foreign correspondent,” writes The Guardian, in a long article devoted to him by his former employer. “He loves Brazil and has dedicated his career to covering (media) of the Amazon rainforest,” his brother-in-law, Paul Sherwood, testified on Twitter a few hours after his disappearance.

It was during a report in the Amazon, published in The Guardian, that Bruno Pereira was put in the way of Dom Phillips. He was leading an expedition lasting several days in the forest. His guide “opens the boiled skull of a monkey with a spoon and eats its brains for breakfast while he discusses politics”, described the journalist in his account. 41 years old, father of three children, Bruno Pereira had worked for many years at Funai, the organization responsible for indigenous affairs in Brazil. “He dedicated his life to defending the rights of indigenous Brazilians and is nationally revered as a relentless fighter for justice,” his relatives wrote in the text associated with an online kitty.

Will we one day find Dom Phillips and Bruno Pereira? Authorities discovered a backpack, boots and health insurance card belonging to them on Sunday. Traces of blood had been discovered earlier on the boat of a “suspect” that witnesses had seen spinning at full speed going in the same direction as the boat of the two missing. The British journalist’s mother-in-law, Maria Lucia Farias, admitted on Sunday that she no longer believed in it: “At first, we had the wild hope that they would have sensed danger and hid in the jungle. But not anymore. »