Tarnished Gold: Illegal mining stokes Indigenous divisions – by Sam Cowie (Associated Press/Miami Herald – January 18, 2022)


RAPOSA SERRA DO SOL INDIGENOUS TERRITORY, Brazil (AP) — The mining encampment that stretches across a mountainside in Brazil’s Amazon is dotted with plastic tarpaulin covers. Under them, dozens of men toil in rocky pits, excavating sacks of ore to be transported by truck. Gold will be extracted from the ore.

Of all places this squatter settlement shouldn’t exist, it’s here: in Brazil’s northernmost Roraima state that doesn’t permit gold prospecting, inside one of the nation’s Indigenous reserves where mining activity is illegal and on the flanks of this mountain – Serra do Atola – that traditional leaders of the Macuxi people hold sacred.

Nevertheless, a recent visit by The Associated Press – at the invitation of local leaders from the Maturuca and Waromada villages – found the illegal mining site back up and running just months after authorities shut it down.

That the miners have returned in droves underscores the insatiable lure of gold and the fact they are being encouraged to keep up their work – including by the nation’s president.

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