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Bolsonaro and Funai pressure Kayapós to ask for mining in their lands

Para Apib, teor do encontro estimula conflito entre indígenas

Crédito: Observatório da Mineração

3 Apr 21

Bolsonaro and Funai pressure Kayapós to ask for mining in their lands

According to an audio leaked by the Brazilian Network of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (Apib), a group of Kayapó indigenous leaders from the south of Pará were encouraged to press for mining on their lands in a meeting that brought together President Jair Bolsonaro, the head of Funai [Brazilian National Indigenous Peoples Foundation], Marcelo Xavier, and the logger João Gesse. The meeting, which was not on Bolsonaro’s official agenda, was scheduled with the objective of “finding sustainable solutions” for the indigenous peoples.

In the audio, confirmed as trustworthy by the Mining Observatory, Gesse attacks NGOs and says he “wants to help”, in a threatening tone. “We are involving the president of the Republic, wanting to help, ministers, and I have to listen to this litany about cooperatives? The patience is over. Do you want to stay with NGOs? Fine, stay with these damned NGOs, but remember: you live in Brazil. General [and Vice President] Mourão, the Army, the Federal Police, are going to be on top of them,” he said. The cooperative mentioned by the logger, of which he was one of the articulators, is Kayapó Ltda., which aims at the “agro-industrial exploitation” and exploitation of the mineral resources of the Kayapó Reserve, a target of criticism from chiefs and leaders of the region. According to Apib, the logger is angry because, allegedly, indigenous people are being pressured to take a position against mining activities in the region by NGOs.

Gesse confirmed the audio and said that the president of Funai consulted him with the intention of taking the cooperative model to other indigenous peoples. Bolsonaro, on the other hand, said in the meeting “we did what we had to do”, in reference to the forwarding of the bill 191/2020, which authorizes mining within indigenous lands, in addition to stating that “the indigenous who want to work with mining have to pressure their politicians.”

Survey says that indigenous territories don’t concentrate fire hotspots, denying Bolsonaro’s claims

Report reaffirms indigenous peoples role in forest conservation

Credit: Marizilda Cruppe/Greenpeace

30 Mar 21

Survey says that indigenous territories don’t concentrate fire hotspots, denying Bolsonaro’s claims

A study by the Amazon Environmental Research Institute (IPAM) indicates that, between January and December 2020, only 3% of deforestation and 8% of fire hotspots occurred on indigenous lands. The data denies, once again, the systematic attacks by Bolsonaro and government representatives against the native peoples and communities, who point them out as responsible for the destruction of the forest.

Topping the ranking of the most deforested land categories are undesignated public forests (32%), followed by private properties (24%), and settlements (22%). Together, the three categories concentrate 68% of the hotspots identified in the period, according to data from Inpe used in the survey.

The technical note analyzes the dynamics of deforestation and fire in indigenous lands (ITs) in the Amazon between 2016 and 2020 and denounces the increasing devastation of these territories by the advance of land grabbers and non-indigenous invaders. The text highlights the role of the Rural Environmental Registry (CAR) as a tool for land grabbing in Indigenous Lands: in four years, there was a 75% increase in the number of self-declaratory registrations of rural properties in these territories.

New president of the Brazilian Congress Environment Commission lies about the Amazon during first speech

Carla Zambelli, Bolsonaro’s ally, endorsed pro-gold digging government discourse

Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR

30 Mar 21

New president of the Brazilian Congress Environment Commission lies about the Amazon during first speech

In her first live broadcast after assuming the presidency of the Chamber of Deputies Environment Committee, federal congressional representative Carla Zambelli (PSL) lied about the Amazon, attacked NGOs and defended gold digging on indigenous lands, according to a fact check carried out by Fakebook.eco. Zambelli also said that, until the inauguration, she did not know about illegal landgrabbing, one of the priority agendas of her commission. “I think I have little technical thinking, with little knowledge, so I’m still learning”, she said.

Among the untrue statements of the representative is the affirmation, as systematically propagated by the government, that the native peoples of the Amazon are the main responsible for the devastation of the forest.

Illegal gold digging rises 30% in Yanomami Indigenous Land during the pandemic

The area destructed is equivalent to 500 soccer fields, study says

Credit: Chico Batata/Greenpeace

25 Mar 21

Illegal gold digging rises 30% in Yanomami Indigenous Land during the pandemic

Weeks after the Federal Public Prosecution issued an order forcing government officials to remove illegal gold diggers from the Yanomami Indigenous Land (TIY), a new study shows that illegal mining grew in the territory during the pandemic. From January to December 2020, gold diggers destroyed five hundred hectares of forest in the indigenous land, a 30% increase over the previous year.

“Scars in the forest: evolution of illegal mining in the Yanomami Indigenous Land in 2020,” released by the Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY) and Wanasseduume Ye’kwana Association (Seduume), denounces not only the environmental devastationa nd the risk of conflicts with indigenous people promoted by the gold diggers, but also the impact of the activity on the health of the Yanomami, by acting as a vector of malaria and Covid-19 contamination, threatening, above all, isolated peoples.

“To malaria and other infectious diseases was added COVID-19, transmitted directly by gold diggers that continued to walk freely in TIY. 949 cases of the disease were recorded until October 2020, with a strong incidence in the Waikás (26.9% of the population), Kayanau (9.5%)”, says the study.

Court orders the removal of illegal gold diggers in Yanomami Indigenous Land under R$ 1 million per day fine

Decision criticizes federal government’s omission

Credit: Chico Batata/Greenpeace

17 Mar 21

Court orders the removal of illegal gold diggers in Yanomami Indigenous Land under R$ 1 million per day fine

The 2nd Federal Court of Roraima, at the request of the Federal Public Prosecution Office, ordered the federal government to present a plan for the removal of illegal gold diggers from the Yanomami Indigenous Land within 10 days under penalty of a daily fine of R$ 1 million reais. The judge reinforced the omission of the government.

In addition to the trail of rights violations left by illegal mining, in the context of the pandemic, the Yanomamis have been denouncing the invasion of miners since last year as a serious vector of Covid-19 transmission. The arrival of these criminals has led to an explosion in the number of cases of the disease among the population, including the deaths of babies.

Federal Public Prosecution asks federal agents to fight gold diggers in the Munduruku territory

After Salles visited the land, in 2020, the inspections were halted

Credit: Instituto Socioambiental

16 Mar 21

Federal Public Prosecution asks federal agents to fight gold diggers in the Munduruku territory

The Federal Public Prosecution (MPF) asked the government to act to contain illegal gold digging in the Munduruku territory in Jacareacanga, in the state of Pará. According to reports from leaders, the invasions have been increasing since March 14th, with the entry of heavy machinery in the area. In documents sent to the Federal Police, the MPF requested urgent measures to fight the invaders. “There is an imminent risk of conflict within the Munduruku indigenous land, due to the articulation of the indigenous people who are opposed to illegal mining and could directly fight the entry of machinery,” says the decision.

The agency has been investigating the advance of gold diggers in the region since last year. In August 2020, Ibama carried out an inspection action in the territory, interrupted after a surprise visit by the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles. According to the MPF, “the circumstances of the interruption included suspicions of leakage of classified information and transport of miners in aircraft of the Brazilian Air Force (FAB)” and are being investigated. At the time, the Munduruku leader Ademir Kaba Munduruku, coordinator of the Munduruku DA’UK Association, said he suspected that Salles’ visit in Jacareacanga had been communicated to the miners. 

Federal Police carries out an operation against illegal diamond mining in indigenous lands

The criminals sold the diamonds abroad

Credit: Polícia Federal/via Agência Brasil

16 Mar 21

Federal Police carries out an operation against illegal diamond mining in indigenous lands

On March 16, the Federal Police carried out the Operation Investor to dismantle a criminal network specialized in illegal diamond mining in the Sete de Setembro and Roosevelt Indigenous Lands, where the Suruís and the Cinta-Larga indigenous peoples live, respectively, in the municipalities of Cacoal and Espigão, in the state of Rondônia. The agents conducted Seven search and seizure warrants in the cities of Espigão do Oeste (RO), Cerejeiras (RO), Clementina (SP), Montenegro (RS), and Domingos Martins (ES).

“During the course of the investigations, the police identified the investors of the mining operation, in addition to intermediaries, miners and indigenous people involved,” the Federal Police told G1. After the illegal extraction in Rondônia, the diamonds were sold abroad.

The Roosevelt Indigenous Land, ratified in 1991, has for decades been the target of dispute between indigenous people and environmental criminals because of its privileged location for mining activities. The region is home to one of the largest diamond mines in the world, with the capacity to produce at least one million carats of precious stones per year. The advance of illegal mining has brought conflicts of various kinds to the Cinta-Larga people – including the stigma that they are a “rich” people who do not need assistance from the state – as well as great environmental impact. The legalization of the activity, with indigenous participation, divides opinions among local leaders.

Bill targets illegal gold laundering in financial markets

Proposition wants to perfect ore origin tracing

Credit: Marcos Amend/Greenpeace

11 Mar 21

Bill targets illegal gold laundering in financial markets

In partnership with the Instituto Escolhas [Choices Institute], Senator Fabiano Contarato (Rede) forwarded to Congress a bill that discusses new mechanisms for monitoring and controlling commercial transactions that currently allow “gold laundering”, an operation that transforms illegally mined ore into apparently legal resources.

The proposal creates a public control system over the gold trade to reinforce the tracking of its origin and curb mining in forbidden areas, such as indigenous lands and Conservation Units. In a statement, Contarato lists the main points of the bill and reaffirms the importance of focusing on market surveillance. “The financial sector can help clean up the gold extraction sector in Brazil and prevent illegal metal from entering the market. Demanding certificates of legal origin and environmental compliance is a constitutional imperative and should be an ethical and moral commitment of the national financial sector,” he says.

Faced with the increased search for safer financial assets, such as gold, amid the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the Instituto Escolhas launched, in October last year, the campaign “Where does gold come from?” At the time, the NGO stressed that the ore boom in the international market has stimulated the advance of illegal mining in the Brazilian Amazon, a phenomenon widely denounced by NGOs and indigenous organizations over the past year.

Among them is the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib), which published in 2020 the survey “Complicity in the destruction – III”, about companies associated with the systematic devastation of indigenous territories. Last month, Apib received the resignation of the British mining company Anglo American, one of the companies cited in the document, to cease its activities on indigenous lands in the Amazon. The response was motivated by a petition created by the organization to pressure the company to withdraw applications for copper exploration in Munduruku territory.

Supreme Court vetoes bill that authorizes gold digging without environmental impact studies

State senate had approved the bill with urgency

Credit: Marcos Oliveira/Agência Senado/via CC BY 2.0

20 Feb 21

Supreme Court vetoes bill that authorizes gold digging without environmental impact studies

Justice Alexandre de Moraes of the Supreme Court (STF) ordered the suspension of Law 1.453/2021, which authorizes mining activity in the state of Roraima with the use of mercury and without an environmental impact assessment. After being approved by the state senate in January, the governor ratified the bill shortly after, on February 8.

Moraes’ decision decided after an lawsuit filed by the party Rede Sustentabilidade (ADI 6672), which denounces the unconstitutionality of the measure, as it contradicts the federal law, which allows simplified licensing only for low-impact activities, and violates the fundamental right to an ecologically balanced environment (Article 225). The party also mentioned the manifestation of dozens of indigenous organizations against the project, including the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CRI), which has protested against the measure since its presentation.

Survey shows that the Environment Minister used the pandemic to loosen environmental laws

Changes in legislation weaken environmental protection, says UFRJ

Credit: Bruno Kelly/Greenpeace

10 Feb 21

Survey shows that the Environment Minister used the pandemic to loosen environmental laws

In a ministerial meeting in April 2020, Ricardo Salles, said that the government should take advantage of the public eye being drawn to the pandemic to, in a rough translation, “slip by the cattle herd”, that is, to further weaken the legislation on environmental issues. Almost a year later, a study by the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) points out that he succeeded: of the 57 infra-legal acts – which do not depend on congressional approval – responsible for weakening environmental preservation rules signed by the Bolsonaro government starting in 2019, 49% were enacted after the pandemic began, peaking in September 2020. Among the measures is the weakening of administrative rules, the resolution that releases mining activity in areas still awaiting final authorization, and the reclassification of pesticides to less harmful categories. As a source, spreadsheets from Ibama, ICMBio, and Inpe were used, in addition to publications in the Union Official Gazette.

Between March and August 2020, environmental fines suffered a 72% reduction, even with the increase in deforestation and fires recorded in the period. The drop is attributed by researchers to budget cuts in the environmental agencies Ibama and ICMBio, currently under threat of merger. “The reduction in environmental fines, combined with amnesty for illegally deforested areas in the Atlantic Forest, may make landowners feel empowered to continue deforesting,” says the survey, according to an article in the Metrópole newspaper.

Illegal gold digging pollutes waterfalls and rivers in Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Sete Quedas waterfall waters polluted with mining waste

Credit: @karibuxi/ Reproduction/Twitter

9 Feb 21

Illegal gold digging pollutes waterfalls and rivers in Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Lands

Indigenous peoples of the Raposa Serra do Sol Indigenous Land continue to struggle in defense of their territory, which suffers from the advance of illegal gold digging. As reported by the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, pictures taken in January show the critical state of the Sete Quedas and Urucá waterfalls, near the municipality of Uiramutã, polluted by mining waste.

The land is close to the Army’s 6th Border Platoon and, despite Operation Verde Brasil 2, which assigned the military to combat environmental crimes, the violators remain unpunished. “We have already denounced them, we called for an assembly, we made documents, maps, we delivered photographs, but so far nothing”, declared to the newspaper the vice-coordinator of the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), Edinho Batista de Souza.

As an aggravating factor, the leadership cites President Jair Bolsonaro’s declared incentive to mining on indigenous lands – as in the case of Bill 191/2020, which is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives – and Bill 201/2020, of the Roraima government, which authorizes mining activity in the state “without prior study”.

After taking control over the Parliament, Bolsonaro pushes bill to allow mining in indigenous lands

House of Representatives new president, Arthur Lira, already received R$ 200,000 reais from an air company linked to illegal gold diggers

Credit: Facebook/Arthur Lira/Reproduction

3 Feb 21

After taking control over the Parliament, Bolsonaro pushes bill to allow mining in indigenous lands

After gaining political control of the Federal Senate and House of Representatives, with the election of his allies, Rodrigo Pacheco and Arthur Lira, president Jair Bolsonaro presented a list of his most pressing bills. Among them, Bill 191/2020, that authorizes mining inside indigenous territories, Bill 3729, that weakens the regulations for environmental licensing and Bill 2633/2020, known as “Land Grabbing Bill of Law”.

The bill that makes legal mining in indigenous territories removes the power of veto from the communities and authorizes oil and gas prospecting, building hydroelectric power plants and the cultivation of transgenic seeds and cattle herding. The project was repudiated and denounced by the largest indigenous organizations in the country.

Márcio Astrini, executive-secretary of the Climate Observatory, said that Lira rise to power in the House of Representatives will bring “an historical wave of attempts at approving environmental setbacks. In this scenario, hell is the limit”. Lira has received donations from an air flight company linked to illegal gold mining.

A study reveals that, if the Bill is approved and made effective, it could cause the devastation of 160,000 square kilometers in the Amazon rainforest.

Indigenous organizations protest against bill that authorizes gold digging in Roraima, exempt previous analysis

Indigenous leaders deliver letter of denouncement to public prosecution

Credit: Obind/Reproduction

21 Jan 21

Indigenous organizations protest against bill that authorizes gold digging in Roraima, exempt previous analysis

Indigenous organizations have presented a formal complaint against the Bill of Law 201/2020, authored by Roraima state government, which allows gold digging permits with previous analysis. The denouncement was presented to Federal and State Prosecution. 

A special commission of the State Congress voted unanimously in favor of the bill by Roraima State Governor Antonio Denarium that liberates the mining activity in Roraima “without prior analysis,” points out an article by the G1. The bill, called PL 201/2020 does not detail which ores and territories it affects. It also allows, through an amendment by congressional representative Éder Lourinho, the use of mercury in the activities, responsible for serious social and environmental damage.

While Denarium speaks of “allying mining with sustainability,” the Indigenous Council of Roraima (CIR), as well as other organizations, are contrary to the proposal and calls for its withdrawal from vote. In a statement, the CIR recalled the indigenous struggle against the invasion of their lands in the state, like in the Raposa do Sol and Yanomami Indigenous Lands, and said the project is an “attack on the environment“. “To approve PL 201 is to legalize the destruction of forests, pollution of rivers, lakes, streams and our rich land, which is home to thousands of animals, birds, fish and all kinds of living beings”.

After record-breaking deforestation rates, Supreme Court summons president and Environment Minister for explanations

Aerial image of the Awa Indigenous Land, in the Amazon Region

Crédito: Victor Moriyama/Greenpeace

28 Dec 20

After record-breaking deforestation rates, Supreme Court summons president and Environment Minister for explanations

Justice Carmen Lúcia, of the Supreme Court, ordered President Jair Bolsonaro and the minister of the Environment Ricardo Salles to provide information about the record-breaking annual deforestation data and the measures adopted by the government to fight it, as reported by the website G1. A lawsuit filed by the Sustainability Network party (Rede), which denounces the failure in the government’s environmental preservation policy and calls for concrete measures, was the responsible for the court’s decision.

In 2020, the Amazon saw record-breaking deforestation. Between August 2019 and July 2020, more than 11,000 km² were devastated, an increase of 9.5% compared to the previous period. The Pantanal was another biome severely affected: more than 10% of its area was ravaged by fires this year.

The situation of the Cerrado biome is also worrying. Between August 2019 and July 2020, there was a 13% increase in deforestation compared to the previous period, according to the National Institute for Space Research Institute (Inpe). As reported by the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, 7,340 km² of native vegetation was lost, the highest value since 2015. The article points to the expansion of the agricultural frontier in the Matopiba region as the major threat to the biome.

Amazon deforestation hits record high under Bolsonaro

Brazil lost 11.088 km² of Amazon Rainforest in eleven months

Credit: Christian Braga/Greenpeace

30 Nov 20

Amazon deforestation hits record high under Bolsonaro

The Bolsonaro administration broke the record for deforestation in the Amazon in the last 12 years, according to data from the National Institute of Space Research (INPE). From August 2019 to July 2020, 11,088 km² of forest were devastated, an increase of approximately 9.5% over the previous period. The State of Pará leads the devastation, being responsible for 46.8% of the deforestation. These are the first merged data that contemplate only the mandate of the current government, informed Folha de S. Paulo.

During the presentation of the new survey, which occurred without the presence of the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, vice president Hamilton Mourão said that the increase was below expected, but reinforced that they should face the new data with concern.

The growing devastation in the Amazon happens despite the presence of the Armed Forces in the region – through the Guarantee of Law and Order (GLO). The measure is a bet by the government to respond to the problem. A group of foreign military personnel issued a warning about Brazil’s environmental and climate vulnerability and the country’s lack of structure to deal with the problem. As part of its annual report, the International Military Council on Climate and Security published a document asking the government to treat climate change and deforestation as a “security priority,” reinforcing that current environmental policy damages the country’s reputation. “Besides putting ecology and water supply at risk, the recent outbreak of deforestation and the counterproductive rhetoric of President Bolsonaro have damaged Brazil’s reputation abroad, undermining the country’s trade agreements.”

Illegal gold digging massively poisons Amazon Munduruku indigenous with mercury

Blood samples of four out of ten children under the age of five present high mercury levels

Credit: Rogério Assis/Greenpeace

26 Nov 20

Illegal gold digging massively poisons Amazon Munduruku indigenous with mercury

A study on the presence of mercury poisoning caused by illegal gold digging among the Munduruku people in the Tapajós region, Pará State, indicates the presence of the metal in 100% of participants. About 57.9% had mercury levels above 6µg.g-1 – the maximum limit established by health agencies. The survey, conducted with 200 inhabitants of the Indigenous Land (TI) Sawré Muybu, focusing on the villages of Sawré Muybu, Poxo Muybu and Sawré Aboy, shows that in the regions most affected by illegal mining, the level of contamination observed was higher.

Among the children examined, 4 out of 10 under five years old in the three villages showed high concentrations of mercury. “This finding is especially worrisome, since mercury directly affects the Central Nervous System, which is developing in children under five years of age, and the brains of fetuses still in formation in the mother’s womb,” says the study. The survey also showed that the fish in the region, the major source of protein in the communities, are also contaminated by mercury.

Conducted by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) in partnership with the NGO WWF-Brazil, the study presents a series of recommendations to mitigate the problem, such as the immediate interruption of illegal gold mining in indigenous territories, a plan to discontinue the use of mercury in the camps, and a risk management plan for populations chronically exposed to mercury.

Covid-19: virus advances among Yanomami and threatens isolated indigenous groups

Gold diggers are the main vector of transmission

Credit: Chico Batata /Greenpeace

16 Nov 20

Covid-19: virus advances among Yanomami and threatens isolated indigenous groups

In June, the Instituto Socioambiental [Socio-Environmental Institute – ISA] published a study that warned about the high risk of contagion of the Yanomami population because of the invasion of illegal gold diggers in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory (TIY), between the states of Roraima and Amazonas. Five months later, the health condition of the region reveals an announced tragedy, points out the report “Xawara: traces of Covid-19 in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory and the omission of the State”. According to the new survey, prepared by the Pro-Yanomami and Ye’kwana Network and the TIY Leadership Forum, more than a third of the region’s indigenous people have already been exposed to the virus, with an increase of more than 250% in confirmed cases in the last three months – from 335 to 1,202 between August and October 2020. According to the study, contamination has already reached 23 of the 37 indigenous land regions, including isolated groups most vulnerable to the disease. The monitoring platform “Isolated Indigenous Peoples Covid-19 Alert”, of the Observatory of Human Rights of Isolated Indigenous Peoples and Recent Contact (Opi), also points to the high vulnerability of indigenous peoples isolated in TIY – in the Serra da Estrutura region – based on an analysis that crosses factors such as the number of confirmed cases, of deaths and the existence or not of a contingency plan for the region in question.

The government has been neglecting the request to withdraw illegal miners from the TIY, who act as a vector for contamination among the indigenous people, since the beginning of the pandemic. “We want to file this document with the Brazilian authorities. It is an instrument to denounce the problems of the gold diggers invasion, the contamination of the environment like our rivers, and also about the diseases, this xawara [epidemic], which has been killing many people,” said Dario Kopenawa Yanomami, vice president of the Hutukara Yanomami Association, one of the organizations behind the #ForaGarimpoForaCovid [Out with Gold diggin, out with Covid] campaign, which aims to expel gold diggers from Yanomami territory.

The report also denounces the lack of preventive strategies to contain the advance of contamination by the Yanomami Special Indigenous Health District (DESEI-Y), such as the use of more precise tests for the identification of the virus and the “statistical erasure of its dead in the pandemic,” marked by the underreporting of cases of those affected by the disease.

As another example of the mobilization of indigenous groups in an attempt to draw public attention to the violation of their lands, the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil Network (Apib), has also published a recent study containing a series of complaints about companies associated with the systematic devastation of indigenous territories, the “Complicity in destruction III: how global corporations contribute to violations of the rights of indigenous peoples in the Brazilian Amazon”. The document “reveals how a network formed by large international funding institutions is linked to the production and export of commodities involved in conflicts in Indigenous Lands, deforestation, shackling and weakening of environmental protections” says the text. Among the eleven companies mentioned are the mining companies Vale, Anglo American, Belo Sun, Potash of Brazil; the agribusiness sector, the companies Cargill, JBS, Cosan / Raízen; and in the energy sector, the companies Energisa Mato Grosso, Good Future Energy, Equatorial Energy Maranhão and Eletronorte. 

Mining advances over indigenous lands in Bolsonaro government

Illegal gold digging camp at Kayapó Indigenous Land, Pará State

Credit: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

13 Nov 20

Mining advances over indigenous lands in Bolsonaro government

A survey by the project Amazônia Minada [Mined Amazon], from InfoAmazônia, shows that, although unconstitutional, the National Mining Agency (ANM) maintains active more than 3 thousand requests to mine in Indigenous Lands (TIs) in the Amazon region. Infoamazânia also created a map that shows in real time the new requests that are applied to the agency, superposed to 385 indigenous lands and 49 conservation units of integral protection of the Brazilian Legal Amazon. The practice is one of the main causes of the environmental devastation that hits the TIs located in the region. Besides, in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, gold digging is a serious vector of contamination among the indigenous population.

Although this is a historical problem, the rise of mining on indigenous lands is directly associated with the environmental policy of Jair Bolsonaro and the encouragement given by the president to illegal exploitation of protected areas, states the report. Since he took office, the average number of requests for exploration in TIs has reached 117.3 every 12 months, more than double that registered in the previous two years, of 50 requests. This year, in just ten months, the highest volume of requests in the last 24 years was registered, with 145 requests. Among the regions most affected is TI Kayapó, in Pará State, which concentrates more than a third of requests.

The year 2020 was marked by the government’s legal mobilization to stimulate mining on protected lands. In February, Bolsonaro sent to Congress bill 191/2020, which authorizes mineral and energy exploration in these territories. Although it is still in process, in September another initiative was announced, the Mining and Development Program, which mentions as its goal “to promote the regulation of mining on indigenous land”.

Indigenous health: Covid-19 menace increases with environmental destruction

Deforestation helps the virus spread: a tragic combination for local populations

Credit: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Nov 20

Indigenous health: Covid-19 menace increases with environmental destruction

Since March, studies and surveys by researchers and civil society organizations have been issuing warnings about the extreme vulnerability of the indigenous population when facing the Covid-19 pandemic. The environmental devastation promoted by the burning and deforestation, which reached record levels in 2020, is pointed out as a significant risk factor for indigenous health, by increasing the risk of contagion and bringing territorial instability.

Reporter Brasil brought to the public an unprecedented survey of the NGO Global Forest Watch that points to the devastation promoted by more than 115 thousand outbreaks of fire in several Indigenous Lands since the beginning of the year until October 29. According to the report, out of the more than 724 TIs contemplated by the report, in several states, 61% registered fires. Local leaders and experts point out the lack of structure to fight the fires – used by farmers to clean the pasture – and denounce the abandonment of the National Indian Foundation (Funai). Indigenous Land Parque do Xingu, in Mato Grosso State, is among the most affected in 2020, with 10,502 outbreaks of fire. “Our reality is not good at all. We’ve lost many leaders, our people are dying [from Covid-19] and, to make matters worse, our house, which is our pharmacy and our supermarket, is on fire,” reported Watatakalu Yawalapiti, the region’s leader, who is home to 16 ethnic groups in 500 villages.

Although the fire from the fires does not directly affect the communities, its impact on health will be felt, points out the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation. The research “Covid-19 and burning in the Legal Amazon and Pantanal: cumulative aspects and vulnerabilities,” released by the Deutsche Welle on November 12, warns about how the coexistence of the increase in burning and the presence of Covid-19 can further aggravate the health situation of the indigenous peoples. “The large occurrence of burnings, which has reached record numbers in 2020, combined with low humidity in the Amazon region and Pantanal, may worsen the impact of the epidemic of Covid-19. The particulate material and toxic gases generated by the burning of biomass reach long distances, and can affect large cities in the North and Midwest regions, as well as river-dwellers populations, quilombos and indigenous lands hundreds of kilometers away from the sources of fire. The particulate material has a great inflammatory potential, which can aggravate the cases of Covid-19, being also a gateway for respiratory infections,” says the technical note of the study. The document highlights that one of the priority areas for strengthening the health system and control of fires is precisely that of the “arc of deforestation,” especially in northern Mato Grosso State, where TI Parque do Xingu (MT) is located, and in the southeast of Pará State.

Alongside with the fires, deforestation on indigenous lands, caused by gold diggers, miners, and illegal loggers, grows exponentially, increasing the risk of Covid-19 spreading in the villages, points out another study, prepared by the Instituto Socioambiental [Socio-environmental Institute] (ISA) and released in September. According to the organization, in the Trincheira-Bacajá, Kayapó and Munduruku indigenous lands, in southwest Pará, deforestation increased, respectively, 827%, 420% and 238%, between March and July 2020. The regions are among the seven most invaded lands in the Legal Amazon, together with the Karipuna and Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau (Rondônia State), Araribóia (Maranhão State) and Yanomami (Amazonas and Roraima States). As a response, the cases of the diseases shoot up in the territories, says ISA.

In the most recent survey made by the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB) about the impact of Covid-19 among the indigenous peoples of the Amazon, until November 9, 28,241 confirmed cases of the disease were registered, 643 suspects and 695 deaths, in 133 peoples.

87% of Brazilians say that preserving the Amazon is a top priority

The research was conducted by Greenpeace and heard 1,500 Brazilians

Credit: Fábio Nascimento / Greenpeace

1 Nov 20

87% of Brazilians say that preserving the Amazon is a top priority

The poll “Amazon: deforestation and preservation policy”, commissioned by the NGO Greenpeace to Datafolha Institute and carried out between the 6tg and 18th of August 2020, pointed out that the preservation of the Brazilian forest is a concern for the great majority of respondents. When asked about the importance of preserving the Amazon forest, on a scale of 0 to 10, 87% of 1524 Brazilians heard by the survey answered with the highest score.

In line with what the DETER monitoring system of the Space Research Institute (INPE) shows, the majority of the public (73%) evaluates that deforestation is on the rise in 2020.

About the causes of the problem, the research indicates that the loggers are seen as the main deforesters in the Amazon, followed by miners, ranchers and cattle breeders.

Cristiane Mazzetti, a Greenpeace deforestation expert, commented on the result, saying that the effects of loggers and miners are significant, but 80% of deforested areas are occupied by cattle ranching.

In addition, 46% of those interviewed consider insufficient the work of Bolsonaro to prevent the flattening of the forest; 42% have the same evaluation in relation to state governments; 38% in relation to Ricardo Salle and Vice President Hamilton Mourão; 20% in relation to Ibama and FUNAI, and 19% towards the Army.

Covid-19 reaches isolated indigenous peoples at Vale do Javari; illegal gold diggers drive contamination

Indigenous organizations denounce governmental omission

Credit: APIB/Handout

23 Oct 20

Covid-19 reaches isolated indigenous peoples at Vale do Javari; illegal gold diggers drive contamination

Indigenous organizations, such as the Javari Valley  Indigenous Peoples Union (Univaja), the Javari Valley Kanamari Association and the Indigenous Peoples Network (APIB), released a statement warning about the arrival of Covid-19 at the Jarinal Village, in the far east of Javari Valley Indigenous Land (TI), Amazonas State, in the Amazon Region. The region concentrates many isolated indigenous groups that are now threatened by the virus.

With the first positive cases confirmed by the Special Secretariat for Indigenous Health (Sesai) among residents at Javari Valley Indigenous Land, the organizations are denouncing the federal government’s disobedience of a Supreme Court order which determined the set up of sanitary barriers to stop Covid-19 spread inside indigenous territories. The Court order came after a lawsuit filed by APIB and political parties to protect the Javari Valley. The deadline for implementing the barriers were ] September 30th, but the government never installed the blockades. The invasion by illegal gold diggers of indigenous lands  is also a driver of the virus spread;  organizations have been demanding control measures against them for months.

A study called “Is deforestation spreading COVID-19 to the indigenous peoples?”, by Brazilian economist Humberto Laudares, affiliated with Genebra University, in Switzerland, points to the correlation between deforestation, illegal gold mining and the contamination of indigenous people with Covid-19. According to the results of the research, conducted in over 5,000 municipalities in Brazil, deforestation and gold mining related to at least 22% of the confirmed Covid-19 cases among indigenous until August 31th. Every new 100 square kilometers of deforestation translates into 2,5 to 5,5 new coronavirus infections among indigenous populations.

Kayapó people present  manifesto against gold mining in their indigenous territories

Illegal gold mining in Kayapó lands, Pará State

Crédito: Divulgação/ISA

8 Oct 20

Kayapó people present manifesto against gold mining in their indigenous territories

Leaders from 56 Kayapó-Mẽbêngôkre indigenous communities, representing over 6,200 people, released a manifesto against Bill of Law (PL) 191/2020, proposed by the federal government. The PL regulates mining on indigenous lands, as well as the construction of hydroelectric plants. In the manifesto, the Kayapó say that mining would threaten the environmental preservation in their communities and the traditional way of life. “We repudiate the way the federal government has been encouraging the invasion of our territories, either by the rhetoric that strengthens organized crime, or by the omission and weakening of the institutios responsible for protecting indigenous territories and by combating illegal and predatory activities”, says the manifesto. 

The NGO World Resources Institute (WRI) denounced the problem on a global scale with the publication of the report “Undermining Rights: Indigenous Lands and Mining in the Amazon”, on the impact of gold mining on indigenous populations in Amazonian countries, including Brazil. The document — which provides an estimate of the total extent of large-scale mining concessions and illegal operations in indigenous territories within the rainforest — also points to favoring, by national laws, of companies over indigenous communities, according to an evaluation study of six Amazonian countries – Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana and Peru.

New campaign to curb illegal gold mining and trade

Market demand drives illegal gold mining in the Amazon

Credit: Daniel Beltrá/Greenpeace

4 Oct 20

New campaign to curb illegal gold mining and trade

In October, Instituto Escolhas launched the campaign “Where does gold come from?” to pressure global market regulation and oversight in the face of increased demand for safer assets such as gold amid the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The initiative states that the gold boom in the international market stimulates the advance of illegal mining in the Brazilian Amazon, reaching Conservation Units (UCs) and Indigenous Lands (TIs), thus  increasing the exposure of communities to the virus. Due to current lack of regulation, financial institutions trade gold extracted illegally on a regular basis. According to the newspaper Folha de S. Paulo, Brazilian gold exports grew 30.5% from January to August and 2020, compared to the period in the previous year. To curb the purchase of illegal gold, the campaign will forward a proposal for regulation – in public consultation until November 3rd – to the Central Bank and the Securities and Exchange Commission (CNV), which regulates the capital market in Brazil.

Covid-19: more than 700 Yanomami infected; malaria and invasion of gold diggers increase risks to indigenous group

Illegal gold diggers invasion in Yanomami lands on May, 2020

Crédito: Chico Batata

23 Sep 20

Covid-19: more than 700 Yanomami infected; malaria and invasion of gold diggers increase risks to indigenous group

Covid-19 has infected over 700 Yanomami have already, according to a September 22 bulletin from the Special Yanomami Indigenous Sanitary District (Dsei-Y). Seven indigenous individuals died in six different villages of the Yanomami Indigenous Land (IL). According to the District’s Indigenous Health Council (Condisi-Y), the federal government has not sent medics and medicines to the territory. Junior Yanomami, head of Condisi-Y, said that the government has abandoned the indigenous and that the health structure for the district is insufficient, having only one health professional for each 1,000 indigenous residents.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health denied the abandonment and mentioned an inter-ministerial mission that visited the Yanomami IL in June to fight the pandemic. The expedition became the target of a Federal Prosecution investigation for suspicion of violation of the isolation measures adopted by the communities, and also for distributing hydroxychloroquine — an unproven medication — to the indigenous to treat the coronavirus.

With over 9,000 hectares, the IL Yanomami is the largest in Brazil and sprawls across the states of Roraima and Amazonas. There are 26,780 indigenous living on the reservation. Besides the Covid-19 pandemic, the Yanomami also face high incidence of malaria, a tropical disease endemic to the Amazon and transmitted by mosquitoes. Malaria is a comorbidity that increases the death rate for coronavirus among indigenous peoples. According to data from Condisi -Y, between January 1st and August 12th, 2020, over 13,000 cases of malaria were reported in the Yanomami indigenous lands, with 9 deaths. In August, the Pro-Yanomami and Ye’kwana Network, which is monitoring the pandemic inside the indigenous territory, informed that out of all Covid-19 confirmed deaths, three were also malaria patients.

The rise in malaria and Covid-19 cases is related to the invasion of illegal gold diggers, that promote deforestation and spread diseases. Around 20,000 illegal gold diggers have entered the reservation this year alone. In June, the campaign against gold digging at Yanomami lands, #ForaGarimpoForaCovid, was launched with the aim to gather 500,000 signatures. The initiative is a joint effort between ISA (Socio-Environmental Institute), Yanomami Leadership Forum and Ye’kwana; and from Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY), Wanasseduume Ye’kwana Association (SEDUUME), Yanomami Kumirayoma Women Association (AMYK), Association Texoli Ninam from Roraima State (TANER) and Yanomami Association from Cauaburis river and Affluents (AYRCA).

Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing about environmental crisis

Authorities, experts, civil society and government officials were invited

Crédito: Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil

21 Sep 20

Supreme Court holds unprecedented hearing about environmental crisis

On September 21 and 22, the Supreme Federal Court (STF) held a virtual public hearing to discuss the Brazilian environmental crisis and the global context of climate emergency. Justice Luís Roberto Barroso summoned the hearing as the rapporteur of a suit brought by four parties (Rede, PSOL, PSB and PT), that accuses the Ministry of the Environment of paralysing, since 2019, the National Fund on Climate Change, one of the main financing instruments in the fight against global warming.

Barroso invited dozens of authorities and experts from academia, civil society, the private sector and government to create an overview of the country’s environmental situation. For the minister, the fund situation illustrates a set of actions and omissions that may represent a general state of unconstitutionality. The hearing began on the eve of President Bolsonaro’s speech at the opening of the UN General Assembly.

Among the authorities present, the president of the Chamber of Deputies, Rodrigo Maia, said that the fires in the Amazon hinder Brazilian agribusiness abroad. The Minister of Science and Technology, Marcos Pontes, recognized the relationship between forest fires and global warming. The Minister of the Institutional Security Office (GSI), General Augusto Heleno, defended the federal government’s role in the environmental agenda, saying that there was no omission and that critics want to attack President Bolsonaro. Repeating arguments from other sectors of the government, Heleno criticized the work of NGOs, accusing them of serving foreign and ideological interests and repeated that the causes of forest fires are natural.

The question of mining in the Amazon was also on the agenda; Heleno defended the regularization of mining activities inside indigenous lands.

Mining in Indigenous lands will increase Amazon deforestation and economic losses, new study shows

Bolsonaro’s bill could lead to 160,000 km2 of deforestation in the Amazon

Crédito: Marcio Isensee e Sa/iStock

18 Sep 20

Mining in Indigenous lands will increase Amazon deforestation and economic losses, new study shows

A new study led by Australian and Brazilian researchers from public universities and the NGO Instituto Socioambiental (Isa) published on scientific magazine One Earth concluded that Bill 191/2020, which aims at allowing mining in indigenous reserves, may lead to the destruction of 160,000 km2 of Amazon forests, or the equivalent to 20 years of deforestation. The research also shows that the bill may cause economic damages of over US$5 billion due to loss of environmental services and agroforestry production. In February 2020, president Bolsonaro sent the bill to the National Congress, where it’s being analysed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

Environment Parliamentary Caucus calls for Minister Salles to be impeached

The Federal Senate in Brasília (DF)

Crédito: Ana Volpe/ Senado/CC BY-NC 2.0

5 Jun 20

Environment Parliamentary Caucus calls for Minister Salles to be impeached

The Environment Parliamentary Front filed an impeachment request to the General Attorney’s Office against the minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles. The document, 42 pages long and signed by 70 representatives, lists impeachable offenses and administrative irregularities committed by Salles and claims that the minister and president Bolsonaro “advocate for environmental deregulation, the loosening of environmental legislation to benefit certain economic activities that, because of their high impact, must be, by the strength of the law and of our federal constitution, regulated, controlled and restricted, such as gold mining, logging, and agribusiness and stock farming activities in general.”

Covid -19: Illegal gold digging camps expose 40% of the Yanomami to the pandemic

Gold mining camps are a major Covid-19 vector for indigenous peoples

Crédito: Leonardo Prado/PG/Fotos Públicas

2 Jun 20

Covid -19: Illegal gold digging camps expose 40% of the Yanomami to the pandemic

A study called “The pandemic impact at the Yanomami Indigenous Land: #OutWithGoldminingAndCovid”, by the Socioambiental Institute (ISA) in a partnership with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), points that almost 40% of the yanomami indigenous people who live close to illegal gold mining areas at the Indigenous Land Yanomami (TIY) may become infected with the new coronavirus. The research considers invading  gold miners as the major vectors of transmission inside the demarcated territory. The report concluded that the Yanomami Indigenous Land is the most vulnerable territory in the Amazon regarding Covid-19,  once it faces high social vulnerability, precarious local health infrastructure and a history of respiratory ailments among its population.

April is marked by layoffs, political persecution and retaliation at the Ministry of the Environment

Agencies and public workers of MMA were affected

Crédito: Lula Marques/Fotos Públicas

30 Apr 20

April is marked by layoffs, political persecution and retaliation at the Ministry of the Environment

Throughout April, governance and environmental inspection structures suffered from the deepening of the dismantling promoted by the Bolsonaro government, which also intensified the militarization in the fight against deforestation.

On April 10, Ricardo Salles, the minister of the Environment dismissed the analyst at the Ministry of the Environment, André Sócrates de Almeida Teixeira. According to internal sources at the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Resources (Ibama), the dismissal was a retaliation since Teixeira expressed his opposition against the exclusion of rules that prevent the export of illegal timber, in late February.

Four days later, Ibama’s director of Environmental Protection, Olivaldi Azevedo, was exonerated after the TV show Fantástico broadcasted a report which accompanied environmental inspection operations against illegal gold mining and for Covid-19 prevention in Indigenous Lands in Pará. Again, the suspicion is of retaliation.

On the 18th, Vice President Mourão transferred the Amazon Council to his office and cut the participation of agents from Ibama and Funai (National Indigenous Foundation). With this, the Council, responsible for combating deforestation in the Legal Amazon. Only military personnel remained in its composition. “We expected such a thing in a government whose narrative from the beginning has been stimulating deforestation and land grabbing,” former Ibama president Suely Araújo told Globo.

At the end of the month, on April 30, Renê Oliveira and Hugo Loss, two of Ibama’s chief officers responsible for operations to combat mining and illegal logging in the Amazon, were exonerated. Both had taken part in the operations portrayed by Fantástico. According to rumors when Salles fired Olivaldi, servants considered Loss and Oliveira the next in line.

Covid-19: Indigenous people set blockades in 12 states to guarantee isolation

Blockade in Xakriabá Indigenous Land tries to stop Covid-19 spread

Foto: Povo Xakriabá/Handout/via De Olhos Nos Ruralistas

14 Apr 20

Covid-19: Indigenous people set blockades in 12 states to guarantee isolation

To contain the pandemic in indigenous territories, over 23 ethnic groups built, by their own initiative, blockades and barriers on access roads to their villages, according to an article by the website De Olho Nos Ruralistas. The blockades happened in 12 Brazilian states: Acre, Roraima, Rondônia, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Maranhão, Tocantins, Minas Gerais, Paraná, Santa Catarina e Bahia.

In the State of Minas Gerais, the Military Police violated the blockade and invaded the Indigenous Land Xakriabá with tow-trucks and cars, approaching the population without their consent. At the Buerarema municipality, Bahia State, the mayor asked for help to break the blockades and called the Tupinambá “alleged Indians”.

Covid-19: Yanomami teenager is the first deceased among Amazon indigenous peoples

Alvanei Xirixana Pereira lived in villa Rehebe, a route for gold diggers

Crédito: Handout

11 Apr 20

Covid-19: Yanomami teenager is the first deceased among Amazon indigenous peoples

The 15-year-old teenager Alvanei Xirixana Pereira, of the Yanomami group, is the first indigenous victim of the Covid-19 in Brazil. He died at the municipality of Alto Alegre, Roraima State. The Ministry of Health stated that it didn’t receive an official notification with the cause of death and that there are no registries of deaths by Covid-19 among the indigenous in the country so far.

According to the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo, the Sanitary District Yanomami is at a high risk of infection because of its proximity with the non-indigenous society. The teenager lived at the Rehebe village, which is en route for gold-diggers entering indigenous lands. 

The Hutukara Yanomami Association criticized the large presence of miners in the region and accused the government of neglect while dealing with Alvanei. “He went to Roraima General Hospital with respiratory symptoms on 18th of March, but was only diagnosed on April 7th. Meanwhile, he was sick and didn’t receive proper care”, says the release.

The National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) said that it regretted the death and said that health teams are already on location to monitor new cases and isolate the group.

In the beginning of April, caiapó leaders in Turedjam, Pará State, drove away gold diggers from their village fearing the pandemic.

Covid-19: In the Amazon, Indigenous people expel invaders to contain virus spread

Illegal gold mining camp in Kayapó Indigenous Land, Pará state

Crédito: Felipe Werneck/Ibama/via CC

6 Apr 20

Covid-19: In the Amazon, Indigenous people expel invaders to contain virus spread

To contain the spread of the new coronavirus, caiapó leaders from Turedjam, Amazon Pará State, expelled 30 gold diggers from their land. “We always wanted to stop mining in our land. With the risk of contamination, we discussed and came to a consensus”, said Takatkyx Kayapós, a community leader, to Reuters.

The National Indigenous Foundation (Funai) wasn’t a part of the negotiations, but declared to the press that it is “working to keep indigenous territories safe” in allegiance with the Federal Police and the Brazilian Institute of Environment and Natural Resources (Ibama).

One year ago, the Ministry of the Environment exonerated 21 out of 27 regional inspectors. President Bolsonaro accused “a minority inside Funai” of blocking the development of the Amazon “to profit with the indigenous peoples”.

Covid-19: Gold diggers  advance into indigenous lands during pandemic

View from the Brazilian riverbank of the Oiapoque River, used as a route by gold diggers

Crédito: OBORÉ/Repórter do Futuro/Bruno Huberman/via CC

1 Apr 20

Covid-19: Gold diggers advance into indigenous lands during pandemic

The coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (Coica) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) received reports about an increased flow of illegal Brazilian miners at the Oiapoque river region, Amapa State, who were heading towards the French Guiana. Deutsche Welle Brasil (DW) talked with researchers from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and the Federal University of Ceará who stated that the Oiapoque is the primary route for smuggling of gold and other minerals illegally obtained. Claudette Labonté, president of the French Guiana Parikweneh Federation and a member of Coica said the police “let their guard down” during the pandemic. In February, the Brazilian government presented a bill that aims to legalize mining in indigenous territories.

Document shows that the Army refused to support operations against illegal gold diggers in the Amazon

Ibama team deactivates machinery at an illegal gold digging camp inside a indigenous territory

Crédito: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/via CC BY-SA 2.0

29 Sep 19

Document shows that the Army refused to support operations against illegal gold diggers in the Amazon

Military personnel involved in the Law and Order Guarantee (GLO) mission, decreed by President Jair Bolsonaro to combat deforestation in the Amazon, refused to support operations of the Brazilian environmental agency Ibama on at least three different occasions, according to a document obtained by the newspaper O Globo.

The allegation was that operations against illegal mining could lead to the destruction of the mining equipment used by the criminals, a common Ibama practice that President Bolsonaro rejects. The destruction, allowed since 2008, aims to render the machinery unusable. The storage of apprehended goods may pose risks for inspectors.

In speech at UN General Assembly, Bolsonaro lies about Amazon fires

Bolsonaro teased France president during speech

Alan Santos/PR/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

25 Sep 19

In speech at UN General Assembly, Bolsonaro lies about Amazon fires

In his second global stage moment, President Bolsonaro used the opening session of the UN General Assembly in NY to reveal to the world his far right, pro-dictatorship, anti-indigenous rights program. In a little over 30 minutes, he defied critics of his environmental policies and attacked environmental fines, claiming that the numbers on the record forest fires registered in 2019 are inflated by global media to target him.  

New Yorker Magazine summarized: “Bolsonaro gave a predictably defiant defense of his country’s policies regarding the environment, especially the Amazon rainforest, sixty per cent of which lies within Brazil’s borders. For non-Brazilians, hearing Bolsonaro speak on the topic must have been a surreal experience (…) This summer, the Amazon’s forests went up in flames. But, on Tuesday, Bolsonaro asserted that the forests were “practically untouched,” and blamed a “lying and sensationalist media” for propagating fake news about their destruction”. 

Bolsonaro also decried the notion that the Amazon is “a heritage of humankind,” in a message directed to French president Macron. He reaffirmed that there will be no new demarcation of indigenous lands and complained about the extension of the current demarcated reservations. He concentrated attacks against Chief Raoni,  a historic indigenous leader that was nominated to receive the Nobel Prize  in 2019. “The views of one indigenous leader do not represent all Brazilian indigenous communities. Often, some of these leaders, like Chief Raoni, are manipulated by foreign governments  in their information wars  to advance their interests over the Amazon,” he said. 

On the next day (25), Chief Raoni  went to the National Congress for a  hearing and responded to  the president’s attacks at the UNGA: “Bolsonaro said I am  not a leader, but he is the one that can’t lead. He needs to leave, before something  really bad happens,he needs to leave. For the better of all people”. 

Data released by the Indigenous Missionary Council (Cimi) on September 24, show that invasions of indigenous lands grew 44% in 2019, when compared to 2018. The invasions for gold digging, hunting, land grabbing and exploitation of natural resources coincide with the increase in 22% in the number of indigenous people murdered. “The aggressiveness in the speech of the President of the Republic and members of the government serves as fuel for the violence committed against the territories and the native peoples”, said Cimi.

Ibama’s team is shot by gold diggers during operation in Pará State

Flight over Indigenous Land Ituna/Itatá reveals gold digging camps and forest fires

Crédito: Fábio Nascimento/Greenpeace

29 Aug 19

Ibama’s team is shot by gold diggers during operation in Pará State

During a control operation near the Ituna / Itatá Indigenous Land, in Altamira, Amazon Pará State, gold diggers opened fire at a team of federal agents from the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (Ibama). Members of the Federal Police and the National Public Security Force who were part of the operation shot back, but there were no injuries reported. The perpetrators of the attack hid in the woods and were not arrested.

Hugo Loss, the Ibama official responsible for the operation, told Reuters that they apprehended and destroyed two backhoes and three motors that were used in the camp. According to Loss, there’s a significant rise in land grabbing in the region, which increases  deforestation in the Ituna / Itatá Indigenous Land, which is located in the influence area of the Belo Monte hydropower plant.

Emyra Waiãpi is murdered by gold-diggers

Bolsonaro said that there is no evidence that the native Brazilian was murdered

Crédito: Handout/via G1

29 Jul 19

Emyra Waiãpi is murdered by gold-diggers

A Waiãpi Indigenous leader was killed on July 22th amid an invasion of his community lands by gold diggers, in the west of Amapa Amazon State. Emyra Waiãpi, 68 years old, was violently stabbed and assaulted at the Mariry village; his body had marks of beatings and was missing an eye. Around 1,300 waiãpis live in the demarcated land; they are the only indigenous group in the country with an official permit to do low scale gold mining in their territory. Two days after the killing, around 50 gold diggers attacked the Mariry village, in the first invasion of its kind in decades. An internal FUNAI document accessed by the press mentioned at least 15 heavily armed gunmen and stated “we can conclude the presence of invaders is real and the tension in the  region is high”. After a few days, Apina, the Waiãpi Villages Council,  published a note with more  details on the killing and the invasion of their territory. 

Reacting to the news of the Waiãpi assassination, president Bolsonaro questioned the veracity of the story and reaffirmed his support to opening indigenous reserves  and other protected areas to mining and gold digging. “They use the indigenous people as a manipulated mass, to demarcate more and more lands, to say they are mistreated. Now this case…there is no strong evidence that this indigenous was killed there. There are many possibilities, the Federal Police is there, we sent over who we could send over; I will try to solve the case and show the truth about all of this,” he said. He went on to say that international NGOs are against gold mining in these properties  because they want the indigenous to “remain locked in a zoo” and  because they challenge Brazil’s sovereignty over the Amazon.

“It’s a very rich land (the Yanomami reservation); if you  put it together with Raposa Serra do Sol (reservation),  there is an absurd amount of minerals there. I am looking for ‘first  world’  (partners) to  explore those areas adding value. That’s the reason to get close to the USA. That’s why I want someone that I trust at the Brazilian Embassy in the USA, ” he said.  At the time, Bolsonaro wanted to name his son, federal deputy Eduardo Bolsonaro, as ambassador in Washington to have “quick and immediate contact with the american president”.

Bolsonaro threatens Funai

President Bolsonaro once again hinted at the existence of “industry of fines”

Crédito: Funai/Handout

17 Apr 19

Bolsonaro threatens Funai

On a video streaming live from the presidential palace, president Bolsonaro once again attacked indigenous rights, NGOs and Ibama, and threatened to cut off the entire group of directors of Funai, the National Indigenous Foundation. Five indigenous individuals participated in the video – they were introduced to the president by a secretary of the minister of Agriculture, who is linked to big rural landowners; some of them made statements about wanting to “produce in their lands”. 

Bolsonaro again declared his support to allow mining and gold digging inside Indigenous reserves, claiming that the richness under the soil attracts NGOs with vested international interests. According to the president, NGOs are engaged with Ibama agents on a “fines and infractions industry” because they want to receive part of the money. “NGOs act on their own behalf, they are not working for the indigenous people”,  he said. “Indigenous people will remain in poverty? Enslaved by NGOs, enslaved by  political parties, by deputies, by senators who are committed to you, who use you to take advantage. We want your freedom”,  he said to his indigenous guests. It is worth noting that this live streaming happened a week before thousands of indigenous communities gathered in Brasilia for Acampamento Terra Livre, one of the largest indigenous mobilizations in the world.

Minister intends to open indigenous lands to mining corporations

Illegal gold digging camp at Idigenous Land Munduruku, Pará State

Crédito: Vinícius Mendonça/Ibama/CC BY-SA 2.0

4 Mar 19

Minister intends to open indigenous lands to mining corporations

Before an audience of investors and mining executives in Canada, the Minister of Mines and Energy, Bento Albuquerque, said that the Bolsonaro government intends to allow mining on indigenous lands. According to him, approval depends on the National Congress and previous consultations with indigenous populations. During his speech, which took place in one of the main mining events in the world, the minister also promised to open border areas to international mining companies and encourage the extraction of radioactive ores.

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