Amazon: Faced with scourge of illegal gold panning, Yanomamis receive support from Brazilian state

The Lula government wants to cut the supplies of “Garimpeiros”, these gold researchers who have invaded and polluted mercury this territory of 10,000 hectares, to the point of provoking dramatic famine in this native people.

by Anne Vigna (Rio de Janeiro, Correspondence)

The Brazilian president did not skimp on the means. Since Wednesday, 1 , the airspace of the indigenous territory Yanomami has been closed to all aviation and the rivers are controlled by the navy. The objective is clear: to suffocate the refueling of the GARIMPEIROS, these gold researchers who have invaded and seriously polluted mercury this territory of 10,000 hectares, to the point of provoking unprecedented famine in this people. “The Brazilian government will put an end to gold panning in all native territories, starting with that of the Yanomamis. No operating permit will be granted on native land,” assured President Lula before the press on January 31 , by detailing the measures he had just taken by decree.

Recent images of emaciated bodies, children with round belly and protruding ribs with tufts of scattered hair on the skull, have greatly shocked the country. Famine is a direct consequence of this criminal activity which would have destroyed on average 1,038 hectares per year in the Amazon, during the mandate of President Bolsonaro, according to the Mapbiomas platform.

It took the visit of President Lula on January 21 to Boa Vista, capital of the State of Roraima, so that the country takes the measure of the outcome in which the Yanomamis were. The next day, the Minister of Health declared the territory in “health emergency”, and evacuated the most serious patients, the local health facilities no longer being in operation. By retaliation or by sowing terror, the goldsmiths have burned some or using them as warehouses.

“health emergency”

In a few days, nearly 1,000 patients were transported by helicopter to the hospitals of Boa Vista and the Air Force would have dropped 61 tonnes of food in the villages. According to the Ministry of Health, 538 children under the age of 5 are died during the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro, including at least 495 of “avoidable causes”: acute malnutrition, malaria, pneumonia or simple intestinal parasitosis. If undernutrition would be responsible for more than half of this infant mortality, malaria would have been detected in 11,530 Yanomamis patients in 2022, a record figure and most certainly underestimated. At the national level, this number corresponds to 9.3 % of malaria cases, while yanomamis represent only 0.013 % of the Brazilian population.

“Brazil will use part of the international funds intended for the Amazon to help Yanomamis and expel gold panning,” said Marina Silva, the Minister of the Environment, when she met the German Minister of the German Minister Economic cooperation in Brasilia, January 30. Svenja Schulze accompanied the German Chancellor, who came to announce the resumption of the financing of the Amazon fund for 200 million euros. This endowment for preservation projects, created in 2008, had been frozen during the Bolsonaro mandate.

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/Media reports cited above.