Brazilian Indianist, José Apoena Soares de Meirelles, 55 years old, was
assassinated in Porto Velho, state of Rondônia, Brazil, on October 9. Federal
Police investigations indicate that the assassination took place during a
hold-up, as Meirelles was coming out of a bank.
Four days after the murder, a 17-year-old man was arrested, confessed to the crime and was identified by the Funai staff-member who was with Apoena at the time of the assassination.
According to Rio’s daily O Globo, “the Ministry of Justice will wait for the report from the Federal Police of Rondônia to decide if it will send a team from Brasília to carry out further investigations.”
The Federal Police of Rondônia considers the case closed. Doubts concerning the motive behind the death of Meirelles are linked to his role in prospecting issues.
Meirelles was a member of a committee that was investigating illegal diamond mining activities in the Roosevelt indigenous land, belonging to the Cinta-Larga people.
He had the job of fostering a dialogue between government institutions and the indigenous people, as well as strengthening the search for strategies to end the prospecting.
President of the National Foundation for Indigenous People in the 1980s and ex-director of the Xingu national Park, Apoena was one of the first white men to make contact with the Cinta-Larga.
He was retired, but had recently been invited to return to work in Rondônia.
“On hearing the comments of the indigenous people of Rondônia about the murder of Apoena, it could be felt that he left the mark of a leader who had always been dedicated and committed to defending the peoples and maintaining a dialogue based on trust with the indigenous communities,” says the note issued by the Rondônia’s Indianist Missionary Council (Cimi).
Cimi ”“ Indianist Missionary Council