Two weeks after the Lula government (PT) declared a health emergency in the Yanomami Indigenous Land, measures to combat illegal mining began to take effect. The first records of prospectors fleeing the protected area were identified by indigenous leaders and by the federal and Roraima governments.
“We have this information that many miners are leaving”, said the Minister of Indigenous Peoples Sonia Guajajara (Psol), who arrived in Roraima this Saturday (4th) to accompany actions to combat the humanitarian crisis.
“But it’s good that they leave, because that way we even reduce the operation that needs to be carried out to remove 20,000 miners, which takes time”, added the minister.
The flight of garimpeiros is the result of a shift in the attitude of the federal government. Under Jair Bolsonaro (PL), in favor of mining in indigenous lands, operations to combat the activity were deliberately ineffective, according to the evaluation of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF-RR) and Ibama officials.
In practice, the federal government’s stance created a sense of impunity and an expectation of regularizing illegal mining, as indigenous and indigenist organizations have denounced in recent years.
Roraima wants federal support to welcome miners
The Roraima government reported that the state intelligence service had access to photos and videos of people spontaneously leaving mining areas. State authorities were concerned about overcrowded boats and canoes, which could lead to accidents.
Read more: Senator friend of Bolsonaro is linked to company accused of diverting medicines from the Yanomami
The governor of Roraima Antônio Denarium (PP), who until last year had been encouraging illegal mining in prohibited areas of the state, said that he had informed ministers Rui Costa, of the Civil House, and José Múcio, of Defense, about the possible escape of prospectors.
“We proposed that the Federal Government evaluate a way to support the State in receiving and encouraging these workers (men, women and even children) who wish to leave spontaneously and peacefully, avoiding any type of confrontation”, declared Denarium.
Mourão alleged difficulty in combating mining
Last Wednesday (1), the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) prohibited aircraft without permission from circulating over mining areas in Yanomami territory. The airspace blockade had not been determined during the Bolsonaro administration.
Now, food and fuel supplies may be being hampered, as air transport is mostly used by miners.
:: MPF details actions and omissions of the Bolsonaro government in the humanitarian crisis of the Yanomami TI ::
When he was vice-president, General Hamilton Mourão said on several occasions that illegal mining on indigenous lands was a difficult problem to solve. Mourão was president of the Legal Amazon Council, the body responsible for coordinating public policies for the Amazon.
“(Removing garimpeiros) is not a simple operation. It’s not like removing street vendors from (avenue) Presidente Vargas. These people will move towards Boa Vista”, he said at a Senate hearing held in July 2020, referring to an informal trade point in the city of Rio de Janeiro.
“Everyone is starving here”, says alleged prospector
Reports in virtual groups of garimpeiros show people apparently leaving the Indigenous Land, either by air, river or walking in the forest. In one video, a woman who identifies herself as a prospector complains about the price of the flight. “Helicopters are charging 15,000 reais. They want to ‘get rich’ in a situation like this”, complained the author of the recording.
In other records, people who claim to be prospectors film indigenous people who appear to be of the Yanomami ethnic group feeding inside the camps. “We are looking for help to leave the mine. Everyone here is starving. We are sharing food with the Indians”, shows the video supposedly recorded in an illegal mine.
Editing: Lucas Weber
Leave a Reply