A Dutch biologist is the latest victim to join a long list of foreigners and tourists murdered in the Amazon region of Brazil.
The bullet-riddled corpse of Jacob Elgelbert Kist, 47, was discovered in the tiny village of Santa Maria on the River Mucura, a tributary of the Amazon River, on 1 September.
Three weeks later his body is still unclaimed in a morgue. He is due to be buried in a paupers´grave next week.
Farmers Fransciso Pedro da Costa, 53, and Antonio Batista, 42, found the body 500 metres away from their house. “He was inside the tent and blood was trickling outside,” said Franscico Pedro.
His body was carried out of the jungle wrapped in a hammock and tied to a pole by local Indians. It is now being held at the Instituto Medico Legal, in Manaus. No autopsy has been done because the doctor, Tenuta, has not turned up for work.
“When we heard this, we hit the roof,” said Mark Aitchison, an American who has run the tour company Swallows and Amazons for 11 years in the capital, Manaus.
“The Dutch embassy has done nothing. The guy is on ice and everybody seems to know who did it but no one is doing anything. Can you imagine being killed and no one makes a call, nothing.”
Tourists are cautioned against
getting too friendly with locals
“We were not informed by the Brazilian authorities,” said a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in The Hague, Holland.
“Of course, we are not happy. We have now informed the family and it is up to them what they do next,” she said.
In the tight-knit communities of river people, everyone know who carried out the killing. Last month [August] five Brazilian tourists were ambushed on their private motor yacht on their way to a midnight party.
Two were shot dead onboard and another two shot when they dived overboard. The attackers then drove their boat to and fro over the bodies.
The sole survivor who clung, undiscovered, to the hull of the boat underwater, later identified the gang-members to police, who arrested them the following week. The gang had made off with three mobile phones and less than $60 in cash.
Criminal gangs seek out tourists arriving at the port of Manaus, carrying out robberies on a daily basis.
Head of the police investigation, Gloria Nascimento, said they were working on the hypothesis that Kist was robbed, because no money was found on his body.
She said that no guns were found at the scene of the crime. Kist had two passports, one military and the other civilian, and had booked a flight to the Portuguese capital Lisbon on 21 September.
“Its not unusual for people to just come here and hang out for a while, like Jacob did,” said Aitchson, adding, “People come to the Amazon for all sorts of reasons.”
In August, five Brazilians were
attacked on a private yacht
New Zealander Sir Peter Blake was shot dead in Macapa, in the north of the Amazon, in 2001.
The winner of the world´s premier yachting race, the America Cup, Blake was attacked on his boat, the “Sea Master”, and died after a gun battle with robbers.
In April 1993 Nicholas Daniel Lynch, 24, an electronic engineer from the English city of Manchester was shot in the head when he got caught in a crossfire during the robbery of a market in Manaus. His killer has never been caught.
Sitting in a Manaus bar, tourist Dirk Bauer, 32, a management consultant from Germany, said he felt safe in the city. “It's easygoing and relaxed. I would feel safe here as I would in any city, but then, you can never be totally safe in any big city.”
“What I have learnt in the last 10 years is that if there is no pressure on the police, they do not act, whether it is a foreigner or not.,” says tour operator Aitchison.
“I don’t think that the Amazon is a dangerous place. I always tell people the same thing – use a reputed tour operator. Too many people go with the first idiot they meet in a bar. In most cases the guys want your money - and they might just kill you for it," says Aitchison.