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Brazil: Cultural areas ignore illegal gold mine | Natural Issues

Sao Paulo, Brazil – The robbers arrived in boats at night.

Local officials told officials that four men aboard the boat arrived last week and shed tears in the village of Maikohipi, located in Palimiu province in Brazil’s most popular neighborhood, Yanomami.

The area is home to seven ethnic groups with illegal gold mines – and the June 5 attack was one of the most violent.

“We have no peace,” Junior Hekurari, chief of Condisi-YY’s Yanomami health agency, told Al Jazeera, explaining that the threats began when a group of foreigners blocked the river and confiscated diesel and another legal group of mines.

In the remote Amazon region along the Uraricoera River, groups of illegal miners, armed with assault rifles and assault rifles, clashed with tribes and even security forces last month, threatening communities and calling for action from leaders, residents and groups. security.

In early June, human rights experts at the United Nations disgust the violence against Yanomami and another Indian group of Munduruku, which was also alarmed by the violence involving illegal mines.

“The violence means we will not be able to hunt or manage our crops,” Hekurari said. “All we can think about is protecting the community, the children.”

The Uraricoera River flows through the Amazon rain forest, in the state of Roraima, Brazil [Bruno Kelly/Reuters]

Very heavy area

The Venezuelan border is home to about 27,000 people, including groups that live at a distance, 96,650sq-km (37,317sq-mile) The Yanomami National Park is larger than Portugal and faces two Brazilian states, Roraima and Amazonas.

The salt-rich region has struggled with miners. During the 1980’s, about 40,000 miners (Portuguese garimpeiros) entered the area, bringing with it violence and disease that killed about 15% of the population, sociologists said.

In 1992, the Brazilian government gave Yanomami a protected area and many garimpeiros remained. But a year later, 16 people were killed by the miners, who also set fire to the village, in a ceremony known as the Haxim massacre.

One of the perpetrators, Pedro Emiliano Garcia, the only Brazilian victim of murder, was arrested last year at the Roraima state headquarters in Boa Vista with two kilograms of gold and is accused of using a plane network to board people. illegal immigrants and donations from and from the land of Yanomami.

The Brazilian Socioenvironmental Institute (ISA) to compare that currently about 20,000 miners are searching for gold. Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourão opposes the figure, saying last year it was 3,500.

However, experts say recent developments in illegal mines and violence as a result of government scrutiny and the enactment of laws that would legalize mining in Brazil’s natural resources – both of these promises by President Jair Bolsonaro – and history – high gold prices, currently exceeding $ 60,000 per kilogram.

“The area is full of garimpeiros … There is a lot of tension in the area,” said Alisson Marugal, a state prosecutor in Roraima, who also said joining the terrorist group and the increase in drug traffickers had contributed to the violence.

“Illegal mines became increasingly violent and relationships with the indigenous people grew,” Marugal told Al Jazeera.

The attack is on the rise

About 2,000km (1,242 miles) south of the Yanomami region, in the Amazon region of Pará, the Munduruku Indian subcontinent in the Tapajós River region, one of Brazil’s most gold-rich regions, is also at risk. violence last month.

In mid-May, the trial court ruled in favor of the defendants against seven members of a family called the “Cow on the Grill” who are in charge of several illegal mines in the area.

According to court documents, the group was able to make a lot of money, by purchasing hundreds of large-scale mining equipment, as well as airplanes, and moving large quantities of gold through shell companies. The group will be prosecuted on environmental charges, fraudulent theft and illegal mining of gold.

Five Indian men who, according to court documents, received money from the group and intimidated locals who oppose illegal mining, will also be tried in the same cases.

Last year, two Indian men were deported from Brazilian warplanes to Brasilia’s capital, where they were confronted by a closed door by Environment Minister Ricardo Salles, which accused critics of using government operations to “carry terrorists”.

A community of Yanomami people appears in Roraima district on April 18, 2016 [Bruno Kelly/Reuters]

Recently, during a police operation that destroyed expensive miners in the Munduruku area, the house of local leader Maria Leusa Kaba was set on fire. An Indian man linked to an illegal mining group has been charged, according to a home page The Real Amazon.

“They came with petrol in soft drinks, armed and shot,” Leusa said in a video released last week by Munduruku Ipereg Ayu, speaking for the first time since the attacks. “We received audiences saying we should be killed because we want to enter, that we are criticizing [the crimes to the authorities]. ”

Meanwhile, last week, a bus carrying Mundurku officials protesting against illegal mining in Brasilia was shot dead and a driver threatened in the towns of Jacareacanga, where the site is located. Opponents are trying to negotiate to provide security for the leaders.

“It’s a very unpopular place,” says Luisa Molina, a sociologist at the University of Brasilia, who studies Munduruku. “The Indians need to be protected.”

Unauthorized networks

For years now, many illegal mines in the Amazon of Brazil, especially in remote security areas such as Yanomami or Munduruku, have been controlled by numerous terrorist groups that use sophisticated, lucrative, and highly profitable machinery.

Aircraft, helicopters and ground miners and shell manufacturing companies, including borders, are common in Brazil in the 21st century in the Amazon, where high-tech and digital technology, reports and the Igarapé Institute has been identified.

Meanwhile, authorities in Roraima are investigating reports that people affiliated with Brazil’s most powerful group, the PCC, have illegally entered a mine in the Yanomami region.

PCC – a Portuguese name known as “First Capital Command” – was formed in Sao Paulo prisons in the 1990s and has since continued to control Brazilian trade, and to export cocaine to Europe every year. But the exact details of the group’s involvement in illegal mining in the Yanomami area are unknown.

“It is not guaranteed whether they are protecting, financing large quantities of gold or repairing mines or destroying towers … This should be investigated,” said Marugal, state attorney general.

Natural forces

In addition to violence, illegal gold mines are linked to natural disasters such as deforestation, which has skyrocketed in the Yanomami and Munduruku reserves in recent years.

Mercury, a highly dangerous chemical linked to birth control disorders, is used to combine gold and pollute local rivers and chains on which the Indians depend.

Last year, a learning published by the Brazilian health agency Fiocruz in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that 58% of the Munduruku people tested in the Tapajós region had more mercury than what appears to be safe.

In the meantime, legislation to legalize mining in traditional countries – developed by Bolsonaro and politicians who oppose mining but are also considered to be inconsistent with environmental laws – appear to have been suspended by Congress.

During a riot last month in the Munduruku forest, Wescley Tomaz, a councilor in Itaituba, the state of Brazil’s gold mines in Brazil, told local media that “gold miners have been discriminated against.”

“People confuse illegal gold mines and inconsistent gold mines … Gold is our asset,” said Tomaz, referring to Itaituba. “When it comes to mining in those countries, they have a choice.”

An employee at the Brazilian Environment Agency shows bullets found in a camp used by miners to fight illegal gold at Indigenous 2016 [Bruno Kelly/Reuters]

‘We Are captives’

While Brazil’s illegal mines are equipped with sophisticated equipment, the sale of gold in the country’s mines is still registered through a pen and paper, which experts say supports fraud.

“With cattle, timber, soybeans … it’s wrong, but there are fewer resources, as opposed to gold,” says Larissa Rodrigues of the Choices Institute, a Brazilian environmental organization. While there are no official statistics on the amount of gold exports to Brazil that are believed to be related to illegal activities, Rodrigues estimates that the figure could be as high as 16%.

Fabiano Contarato, a senator for the Sustainability Network in Brazil, is the secretary of a bill aimed at making Brazilian gold stand out. He also said that this would help to raise money through the illegal gold mine and help reduce violence against Indian citizens.

Amid growing pressures, Brazil’s Supreme Court has launched an operation to force the government to remove illegal miners and loggers from the two locations, as well as from five other Indian resorts.

But in the meantime, the threats continue. “We are detained,” said Hekurari at Condisi-YY, a health organization in Yanomami. All this time we have been threatened. ”

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