The governor of Roraima, Antônio Denarium (PP), sanctioned this Tuesday (5) a lei which prohibits the destruction of machinery used in illegal mining. The project was approved behind closed doors by the Legislative Assembly, in an extraordinary session held in a meeting room.
Considered “clearly unconstitutional” by the Federal Public Ministry (MPF), the text establishes that “the destruction and destruction of private goods seized in environmental operations/inspections in the state is strictly prohibited”.
In three succinct articles, the law does not say whether the restriction is valid for the entire territory of Roraima or only for areas under state management.
The state is home to the Yanomami Indigenous Land (TI), the largest in the country, where half of the villages suffer losses caused by illegal mining. In Brazil, all ILs are property of the Union.
:: Demarcated 30 years ago, TI Yanomami revives mining drama: “We are in the sights of the big snake” ::
wanted by Brazil de facto, the author of the project, deputy George Melo (Podemos), stated that the ban is only valid for state territories. “Within the areas of the Union, we [deputados estaduais] We have no authority,” he declared.
Although it is one of the largest gold production centers in the country, Roraima does not have any legal mining. This is because all the points of illegal extraction of the ore are inside the protected areas, mainly in the Yanomami TI.
Criminal and unconstitutional attack, says Indigenous Council
In a note, the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR) expressed its rejection of the measure, which it classified as a criminal and unconstitutional attack on indigenous peoples by Governor Denarium and the Legislative Assembly.
The CIR highlighted that indigenous peoples are guardians of almost half of the territorial extension of Roraima, which also houses the Raposa Serra do Sol TI, the 13th largest in Brazil. “We say enough to the apologies and incentives to crime perpetrated by state deputies and the State Governor”, wrote the organization.
:: With their own supervision, indigenous people burn illegal mining rafts in the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land ::
“And we say enough with the apologies for the crime perpetrated by pre-candidates for elective positions who publicly incite the population to commit crimes and criticize legitimate activities of monitoring and territorial and physical protection of indigenous peoples in Roraima,” the statement said.
Garimpo advances in politics
In Roraima, mining entrepreneurs invest millions of dollars in large excavators and aircraft that transport inputs to illegally exploited areas.
One of them is Rodrigo Cataratas, pre-candidate for federal deputy, who has already had planes seized by the Federal Police (PF) on suspicion of using them to transport equipment for illegal mining in the Yanomami Indigenous Land, a charge denied by the businessman.
Cataratas is the leader of the “Garimpo é Legal Movement”, which publicly defends the illegal practice in Roraima. Although they operate outside the law, businessmen in the sector began to publicly defend mining, without fear of retaliation by the government.
:: Politicians and businessmen encourage acts against the PF operation that prohibits illegal mining in Pará ::
Politically organized and putting pressure on parliamentarians, the prospectors of Roraima had already won another victory in 2021, when Governor Denarium sanctioned a project that legalized the activity. The law, however, was annulled by the STF months after the sanction.
“It is not new that the State of Roraima tries to approve illegalities against the rights of indigenous peoples and undertakes all possible efforts to attack our rights, our well-being and promote our genocide and a true ecocide”, points out the CIR note.
Practice is essential to curb mining, says MPF
According to the MPF, the destruction of illegal mining machinery is essential to curb predatory activity, in addition to having been validated by the Federal Supreme Court (STF) and provided for in federal law. Therefore, it could not be challenged by state law.
“In several cases, aircraft seized from clandestine airstrips or even regular airfields were found being used again in the logistical support of illegal mining activities”, states a statement from the MPF.
:: Illegal mining brings hunger, disease and sexual exploitation to Yanomami territory, says study ::
“Such procedures [destruição de maquinário ilegal] can only be used in cases where the transport of the seized property is impossible and with the purpose of preventing it from being, moments after the end of the inspection, reused in the destruction of the environment”, continues the federal agency.
On the other hand, the author of the project justifies that the destruction of machines is a “tyranny”. Asked about the unconstitutionality pointed out by the MPF, deputy George Melo said that he was “not the least bit surprised” by the position of the federal agency. “Today within the MPF, environmental movements and NGOs are very strong”, he opined.
Melo also admitted the possibility that the initiative will be barred by the STF. “[O projeto] can it be questioned in court? He can. But the governor signing the law, it will be valid and we will give tranquility to the citizen who invests in our state”.
Author of the project took over promising to strengthen family farming
George Melo took office three months ago. He was an alternate to Jalser Renier (SD), impeached for breach of parliamentary decorum. After taking office, he promised that he would give priority to strengthening small rural producers. “I would like my projects to help family farming people,” he said, according to the g1.
During his short term, however, Melo changed course and began to work on behalf of mining entrepreneurs. Leader Telma Taurepang, of the Taurepang people of Roraima, says the law brings even more insecurity to indigenous communities.
“From the moment a mine opens, countless lives are destroyed, starting with the lives of women. Garimpo is a practice that, for us indigenous people, is death,” he said.
Editing: Rodrigo Chagas