First the helicopters arrived, dropping chemical bombs. Then came armed men in green uniforms who proceeded to slaughter members of an Amazon tribe to make way for a major road.

Bare Bornaldo Waimiri, at the time a teenage member of the Waimiri-Atroari tribe deep in Brazil’s Amazon, said the day of that attack, many years ago, was the last he saw his family alive.

Now elderly, Bornaldo described the horrific scene last week during a historic hearing that put a spotlight on Brazil’s military, which denies attacking the tribe. His testimony underscored the constant tension between development and conservation in Latin America’s largest nation and comes as far-right President Jair Bolsonaro gives a prominent role to the military in his government and ends new indigenous land demarcations in the Amazon.

The BR-174 highway cuts through the Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil's Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
The BR-174 highway cuts through the Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil’s Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Waimiri-Atroari elders attend a hearing about alleged crimes committed by the Brazilian dictatorship in the 1970s inside a traditional
Waimiri-Atroari elders attend a hearing about alleged crimes committed by the Brazilian dictatorship in the 1970s inside a traditional “maloca” indigenous hut on the Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil’s Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Waimiri-Atroari indigenous elders stand around a knife which they say was used in the 1970s by the military to kill many of their relatives on the Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil's Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Waimiri-Atroari indigenous elders stand around a knife which they say was used in the 1970s by the military to kill many of their relatives on the Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil’s Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Military officers listen to the testimony of Temehe Tomas Waimiri about alleged crimes committed by Brazil's dictatorship in the 1970s during a hearing on the Waimiri-Atroari reserve, in Brazil's Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Military officers listen to the testimony of Temehe Tomas Waimiri about alleged crimes committed by Brazil’s dictatorship in the 1970s during a hearing on the Waimiri-Atroari reserve, in Brazil’s Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Viana Wome Atroari, sitting center, and Wanaby Raimundo Atroari, standing right, wait outside a traditional indigenous
Viana Wome Atroari, sitting center, and Wanaby Raimundo Atroari, standing right, wait outside a traditional indigenous “maloca” hut before giving their testimony about alleged crimes committed by Brazil’s dictatorship in the 1970s during a hearing on the Waimiri-Atroari reserve, in Brazil’s Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Bare Bornaldo Waimiri sits before a microphone as he gives testimony about alleged crimes committed by the Brazilian dictatorship in the 1970s during a hearing on the Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil's Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Bare Bornaldo Waimiri sits before a microphone as he gives testimony about alleged crimes committed by the Brazilian dictatorship in the 1970s during a hearing on the Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil’s Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
A Waimiri-Atroari youth looks at a screen showing varopis cameras placed on the vast Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil's Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
A Waimiri-Atroari youth looks at a screen showing varopis cameras placed on the vast Waimiri-Atroari reserve in Brazil’s Amazon state, Wednesday, Feb. (AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)

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