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.
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.
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.
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.
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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