Indigenous leader Raoni recovers from illness in Brazil

Indigenous leader Raoni recovers from illness in Brazil
Brazil Indigenous Leader

Chief Raoni Metuktire, the ethnic Kayapo leader who became a symbol of the fight for Indigenous rights and the preservation of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil, has recovered from an illness after being in hospital for 10 days, a doctor said.

Raoni had been taken to a private hospital in Sinop, a city in Mato Grosso state in western Brazil, from his home in the Xingu Indigenous reservation after suffering diarrhoea and dehydration, said his great-nephew, Patxon Metuktire.

Raoni had tested negative for the new coronavirus.

The Kayapo ethnic leader, thought to be around 90 years old, said at a press conference: “Now I’m healed. I wanted to tell you that disease comes at any time.

“Think about it and love and respect each other because we don’t know tomorrow. The disease does not warn when it comes.”

Raoni “is still a little weak, but already strong enough to continue to lead his people”, said Dr Douglas Yanai.

Chief Raoni Metuktire leads a march for climate in Brussels last year (AP)

He added that Raoni had been formally discharged but would leave the hospital later on Saturday while logistics for his trip home are arranged.

According to the doctor, Raoni was suffering low blood pressure and anaemia.

He had ulcers and had to undergo two blood transfusions. The Indigenous leader was also very upset by the recent death of his wife.

Raoni has campaigned for decades for the protection of Indigenous territories in the Amazon and for the rainforest itself.

A 1978 documentary, Raoni: The Fight For The Amazon, helped make him famous, as did a 1989 tour with the musician Sting.

He has been an outspoken critic of Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro and visited European leaders last year to denounce the leader’s calls for developing Indigenous lands in the rainforest.

Mr Bolsonaro, who has rejected a call by French president Emmanuel Macron to meet Raoni, has said developing land is key to Brazil’s economic prosperity.

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