The flight of illegal prospectors from the Yanomami Indigenous Land (RR) could harm other indigenous lands that already suffer from the harmful impacts of clandestine mining. The fear is that the 20,000 miners who work in the Yanomami territory could migrate to other mining sites where there is still no strong action by the public authorities.
Another six indigenous lands with around 14,500 inhabitants are at risk, which have suffered an increase in the presence of miners in recent years. They are all located in Pará, one of the world’s centers of illegal gold production.
The conclusion is from a survey carried out by the Brazil in fact based on public denouncements by indigenous leaders and data from the Terras Indígenas do Brasil platform, maintained by the Instituto Socioambiental.
Read more: How illegal mining transforms the extracted gold into regularized bars and jewels
“If the federal government does not have a quick response plan, we will see a rapid invasion of these lands”, says Juliana Batista, a lawyer for the Instituto Socioambiental. According to her, the federal government should bet on intelligence work to identify everyone involved in the mining chain, not just the invaders.
“The situation cannot be expected to get worse. We have to demand immediate action from Funai and other authorities”, defends the ex-president of Funai Sidney Possuelo. He conducted operations to expel prospectors from the Yanomami Indigenous Land in the 1990s, when there were around 40,000 invaders in the territory, double the number currently estimated.
In a press conference last week in Boa Vista (RR), the Minister of Indigenous Peoples, Sonia Guajajara (Psol), said that the federal government has a plan to reduce the impacts of the flight of garimpeiros from the Yanomami Indigenous Land, but stated that cannot reveal details for security reasons.
Kayapó and Munduruku should be priorities, says Possuelo
Possuello says that, if he were at the head of the indigenist body, he would prioritize the expulsion of miners from two territories: Kayapó and Munduruku, both in Pará.
“Unfortunately, there is a health problem in Kayapó land, where some villages have already been corrupted by miners, which has led to internal dissension and even death. It is necessary to act now to avoid conflicts. The Brazilian government must act in the same way that it is already acting in the Land of the Yanomami”, defended Possuelo.
The indigenist says that, during the first expulsion of prospectors in the 1990s, Funai and the Federal Police carried out operations similar to those of today, with a strangulation of the supply of food and fuel. At the time, the airspace over Yanomami land was also closed, but, according to the indigenist, there was no participation by the Army.
Garimpeiros threaten neighboring indigenous land of the Yanomami
“There is a risk that miners on the run will invade the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land,” said the legal adviser to the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), Ivo Macuxi. The organization advocates that the federal government put into practice an integrated protection plan, with increased surveillance in all threatened territories.
The CIR calculates that, in Serra do Sol, north of Boa Vista (RR), there are almost 4,000 illegal miners. Among the impacts already felt, and which may be aggravated by the migration of miners, are the pollution of rivers and the co-option of indigenous people, which causes internal divisions in the community.
Garimpo supporters want social program
Politicians in Roraima who have supported illegal mining on indigenous lands are concerned about the socioeconomic impact of dismantling mining on the Yanomami Indigenous Land.
The governor of the state, Antonio Denarium (PP), proposed to the president of the Senate, Rodrigo Pacheco (PSD-MG), the creation of social programs for expelled invaders. Denarium, which sanctioned unconstitutional laws favorable to mining, says that 50,000 people live from the activity in Roraima.
For Juliana Batista, from ISA, people who were taken to the mines in conditions analogous to slavery should be accompanied by the public authorities, with the aim of preventing them from returning to practice illegal activities.
She claims, however, that most miners entered the territory willingly. “The fact that garimpeiros are supporting their families cannot make what is illegal legal or tolerable. We cannot tear up the penal code”, evaluated the lawyer.
Companies that legalize illegal gold must be punished
According to Juliana, the miners expelled may return to work in prohibited areas, if the five Dealers of Bonds and Securities (DTVMs) are not included in the investigations. Without the DTVMs, there would hardly have been such massive invasions as in the Yanomami indigenous land.
In these companies, which operate with authorization from the Central Bank, the clandestine miner can provide a counterfeit mining permit and, without any verification, obtain the invoice that transforms the illegal gold into regular gold.
The lawyer also sees the need to hold those involved accountable in the civil sphere, not just in the criminal sphere. “Studies indicate that mining caused social damage of R$ 3 billion. Who will pay this bill?”, he asks.
Editing: Rodrigo Durão Coelho
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