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Brazil: SOS from Altamira

Distinguished journalist Eliane Brum sends an anguished appeal from the heart of the Amazon

On 15 December the journalist, Ricardo Kotscho, who works in São Paulo, received an SOS from his friend, Eliane Brum, a well-known and much-loved journalist, who lives in Altamira in the heart of the Amazon. Eliane has published a series of scathing attacks on President Jair Bolsonaro and his government, most of them published in the Spanish newspaper, El País, for which she is a columnist.  She has also written for LAB, and spoke movingly at the launch of LAB’s book Voices of Latin America in January 2019.

Ricardo published the SOS in his blog. “Kotscho, my beloved and courageous friend,” Eliane wrote:


I don’t know what else to do, my dear friend, to get people to act. I think that these intermittent howls of agony expressed in social media help to dull the pain – pain that should not be dulled, because we need to be panic-stricken – but don’t change anything.

Here we sleep with death — or, more frequently, we don’t sleep

Here we sleep with death – or, more frequently, we don’t sleep because we spend the night awake, thinking about what we should do – and then, when we wake up, there is news of another death. Or another threat. Or another retreat. I say “us” because, there are good people in the struggle here, though we are few in number.

‘They will kill you’. I know they will. And there is nothing I can do to stop it.

I can’t stand any more people warning me: ‘They will kill you’. I know they will. And there is nothing I can do to stop it.

But we go on. I’m very frightened about what could happen during this Christmas holiday season, when the few institutions still working are partly closed down and the NGOs are all on holiday.

White people will rest, and people who are not white will be shot.

White people will rest, and people who are not white will be shot.

Forgive me for this outburst. This is how I am these days – furious. Only this fury stops Brazil making me ill.

Only this fury stops Brazil making me ill.

A big hug, we’re together.

Eliane Brum

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