An indigenous leader who has become a symbol of the fight for indigenous rights and preservation of the Amazon rainforest has been hospitalized, his institute and a relative have confirmed.
The nearly 90-year-old Chief Raoni Metuktire was taken on Thursday to a private hospital from his home in the Xingu Indigenous reservation after suffering for several days with diarrhea and dehydration, according to his nephew, Patxon Metuktire.
The nephew told The Associated Press that Mr. Raoni tested negative for the new coronavirus at the hospital in Colider city, 370 kilometers from the reservation.
He said doctors haven’t yet determined the cause of Mr. Raoni’s illness, but has been depressed since his wife, Bekwyjkࠍetuktire, died of a stroke last month.
The hospital issued a medical report saying Mr. Raoni is awake and eating without difficulties, but that his condition worsened on Saturday, probably because of bleeding in his digestive tract, and may need to be transferred to a larger hospital.
Mr. Raoni has campaigned for decades for the protection of indigenous territories in the Amazon and 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 Mr. Bolsonaro’s calls for developing indigenous lands in the rainforest.
Mr. Bolsonaro rejected a call by French President Emmanuel Macron to meet with Mr. Raoni.