A man from the Aikewara indigenous community takes part in a protest against mining in Brazil in January 2012. Photo: Orlando Calheiros
Environment | Opinion | World

Chris Feliciano Arnold: Indigenous people again at risk with mining rush in Brazil





Authorities in Brazil are investigating an alleged massacre at a remote indigenous village as the government encourages mining throughout the Amazons. Author Chris Feliciano Arnold warns of "catastrophic" effects on some of the last isolated tribes in the world, citing past atrocities in the same region:
Brazil’s interim president, Michel Temer, is willing to sacrifice millions of acres of rain forest in pursuit of a 16th-century boondoggle: fortunes of gold in the Amazon.

In August, Mr. Temer signed a decree to open a rain forest reserve — an area larger than Denmark — to commercial mining, threatening decades of progress on environmental protection and indigenous rights in the Amazon. The approximately 17,800-square-mile National Reserve of Copper and Associates, or Renca, which straddles the northern states of Pará and Amapá, was created by Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1984 to guard mineral resources from foreign exploitation as the country staggered toward democracy.

Today the reserve is a patchwork of conservation areas and indigenous lands. Its protected status has deterred the runaway development rampant elsewhere in the Amazon that has squelched biodiversity, destroyed indigenous communities and reduced millions of acres of rain forest to pastureland.

During Brazil’s last gold rush, in the 1980s, thousands of Yanomami people lost their land — and their lives — to the government-sponsored invasion of “garimpeiros” (prospectors) who exposed tribes to disease, alcohol, drugs and prostitution. The federal government is now investigating the suspected slaughter of more than 10 members of an isolated tribe on the border with Perú by miners who boasted at a bar of cutting up the dead, including women and children, and disposing of their remains in the river.

Read More on the Story:
Chris Feliciano Arnold: In the Amazon, a Catastrophic Gold Rush Looms (The New York Times September 18, 2017)

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Authorities in Brazil open investigation into alleged 'genocide' of isolated tribe (September 11, 2017)