Things That Matter

Illegal Gold Miners Killed A Tribal Leader In The Amazon And Now They’re Illegally Occupying Indigenous Lands

Dozens of gold miners have invaded a remote Indigenous reserve in the Brazilian Amazon where a local leader was stabbed to death and have taken over a village after the community fled in fear, local politicians and Indigenous leaders said. The authorities said police were on their way to investigate.

Miners killed the tribal leader and then invaded the reserve in which the tribe lived.

Credit: @HernanPorrrasM / Twitter

Several dozen heavily armed miners dressed in military fatigues invaded an Indigenous village in remote northern Brazil this week and fatally stabbed at least one of the community’s leaders, officials said Saturday. The killing comes as miners and loggers are making increasingly bold and defiant incursions into protected areas, including Indigenous territories, with the explicit encouragement of Brazil’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Land invasions in indigenous territories are on the rise across Brazil, where Indigenous leaders say they regularly come under threat by miners, loggers and farmers. Yet assassinations of Indigenous leaders are rare.

Leaders of the Wajapi Indigenous community made urgent pleas to the federal government on Saturday, warning that the conflict between the miners and members of their community who live in remote villages in the northern state of Amapá risked turning into a blood bath.

“They are armed with rifles and other weapons,” Jawaruwa Waiapi, a leader of the community, said in a voice message sent to one of the state’s senators, referring to the miners. “We are in danger. You need to send the army to stop them.”

Local authorities fear a “bloodbath” if the tense situation isn’t diffused quickly.

“The garimpeiros invaded the indigenous village and are there until today. They are heavily armed, they have machine guns. That is why we asking for help from the federal police,” Kureni Waiãpi, 26, a member of the tribe, told The Guardian. He added: “If nothing is done they will start to fight.”

“We have a very tense situation,” said Beth Pelaes, mayor of Pedra Branca do Amapari, who said the tribe are very traditional and allow only authorized visitors.

Many have placed the blame for the attack on Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro.

Credit: @caio_parazzi / Twitter

A member of the opposition party, Mr. Rodrigues, said Mr. Bolsonaro’s views on Indigenous territories and the rights of native communities had put the descendants of Brazil’s original inhabitants in mortal danger.

“The president is responsible for this death,” he said in a statement.

Mr. Bolsonaro has said that Indigenous communities are in control of vast territories that should be opened up to industries to make them profitable.

Credit: @Manya_G / Twitter

Recently Bolsonaro compared Indigenous people living traditional lives on their reserves to “prehistoric men”. On Saturday he once again talked up the mineral riches in the Raposa Serra do Sol and Yanomami reserves – currently inundated with thousands of garimpeiros.

“I’m looking for the ‘first world’ to explore these areas in partnership and add value. That’s the reason for my approximation with the United States. That’s why I want a person of trust in the embassy in the USA,” Bolsonaro said on Saturday, according to the O Globo newspaper. His plans to appoint his congressman son, Eduardo, as Brazil’s US ambassador have caused an outcry in Brazil.

According to a report by The Guardian, illegal mining is causing immense damage to a forest already under siege by climate change, illegal logging, and more.

Credit: @marcgriebel / Twitter

Illegal gold mining is at epidemic proportions in the Amazon and the heavily polluting activities of garimpeiros – as miners are called – devastate forests and poison rivers with mercury.

READ: It’s Been Six Months And Brazil’s President Is On A Tear Stripping Rights Away From Every Vulnerable Community

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This Brazilian Mother And Daughter Share A Rare Beauty Mark In The Form Of White Locks

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This Brazilian Mother And Daughter Share A Rare Beauty Mark In The Form Of White Locks

talytayoussef / Instagram

It’s not every day that we get to see beauty this rare or so brightly celebrated.

Two-year-old Mayah and her daughter Talyta Youssef Aziz Vieira both share a rare genetic condition that means they have a white forelock that makes them look like X-men’s Rogue. Now, their unique traits are going viral and being celebrated on social media.

The mother and daughter pair both have white streaks in their hair due to a genetic condition called Piebaldism.

Talyta, who is from Jericoacoara, Brazil gave birth to daughter Mayah in 2018. According to Daily Mail, the mother was not at all surprised to find out that the two shared the rare trait that gives them two different hair colors. According to Talyta, the genetic condition was passed on to her grandfather, mother, aunt, and cousins, all of whom were born with piebaldism. The genetic condition is characterized by the absence of cells called melanocytes in particular regions of the skin and hair.

According to Talyta’s Instagram page, the young mother said that in her younger years she attempted to hide the white streaks in her hair.

Soon enough, and fortunately, Talyta came to appreciate the trait. Even better? The mother says her daughter has fully embraced her hair mark and enjoys dressing up as Disney character Cruella de Vil while the two watch 101 Dalmatians together.

According to Daily Mail, Talyta says “Piebaldism runs in our family so we knew there was a high probability that Mayah would also have it… From the moment she was born, Mayah had so many white hairs on the front of her head. My doula posted a picture on social media and days later, we were invited by a photographer to do a photo shoot.”

It didn’t take long for the pictures to go viral online.

“I tried to hide my white hair until my twenties. I’d hide it behind other strands – worried that people would bully me,” Taylta explained “I soon realized though that I was unique and special. I want to set that example for Mayah. People always stop us to say how special she is.”

Fortunately, Mayah will have a chance to see someone who looks like her on the big screen soon.

While Mayah’s features have been compared to Rogue from X-Men and Anna from Frozen, the little girl will get a chance to see Cruella in Disney’s soon to be released feature about the villain.

‘That’s when I thought it would be a lovely idea for us to dress up together as those characters. I want Mayah to have fun memories about the way she looks,” Taylta explained about her images of her daughter on Instagram “I want her to embrace being a superhero. Other people who are different have reached out to us thanking us for helping them accept themselves. It’s so sad that people have hid themselves away. We don’t need to be the same to be beautiful. Everyone has a heart inside to accept and love. We are living in a time of knowledge and transformation. Let’s embrace what makes us different.”

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At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

Things That Matter

At 78-Years-Old, This Oaxacan Woman Learned To Read And Write And Even Authored An Award-Winning New Book

Jorge Fernandez / Getty Images

It’s never too late to follow your dreams. It may sound cliche but one Indigenous woman from the Mexican state of Oaxaca is showing just how true that sentiment really is.

Although growing up knowing how to speak her native language of Náhuatl, she was never able to read or write it – let alone Spanish. Now after years of studying and being too embarrassed to attend classes, this 78-year-old woman can say that she achieved her dream and is now an award-winning author.

Despite being illiterate for years, Justina Rojas has finally finished primary school.

Justina Rojas Flores, a resident of the Oaxacan community of San Miguel Espejo, learned to read and write at 76. She remembers that at first she was embarrassed to attend her classes, but with the support of her teachers sh was motivated to learn the alphabet and words and communication.

In fact, she became so motivated that she’s recently authored a handmade book that earned her a national award. She recently told El Sol de Puebla, that “I was already cracking under pressure because I was cheating a lot, but the teachers told me ‘yes you can, Justina’, so I continued taking classes and it was thanks to them that I learned. After two years, I wrote La Mazorca, which is dedicated to the community of San Miguel Espejo.”

In her Indigenous language of Náhuatl, Rojas shared the history of La Mazorca, which emphasizes the value of appreciating all things – especially that which the land gives us.

“I beg you, if you see me lying on the ground, pick me up, don’t step on me. Just as you take care of me, I will take care of you,” is part of the story in the book that was awarded in 2019 by the State Institute for Adult Education (IEEA), an achievement with which Rojas feels accomplished, and with which motivates other people to enter the competition.

Rojas is proving that it’s never too late to learn something new.

Now, at 78-years-old, Rojas is able to celebrate her achievements. Though she admits that many in her community continue to doubt her real motivation. It’s common to hear people ask ‘Why do I learn if I’m old?’, ‘What use is it going to do?’, and ‘I’m on my way out so it doesn’t matter.’

But many of the people who ask these questions are the same people who don’t have the same opportunities, since they can’t read or write. According to figures from the National Council for the Evaluation of Social Development Policy (Coneval) in Rojas’ community, there are around 2,267 inhabitants, and the majority are living in poverty, a factor that significantly influences educational access. Many, from a very young age, leave school to work to support their families and take jobs working in the fields or construction.

Finally, Rojas wants everyone to know that they should not limit themselves and to embrace knowledge regardless of age. “If you don’t know how to read and write, or if you know someone like that, I invite you to go where they teach, so that those who know more can share their knowledge with us.”

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