Brazil launches operation to drive illegal miners from Yanomami lands – by Tom Phillips (The Guardian – February 8, 2023)

The Brazilian government has launched its campaign to drive tens of thousands of illegal miners from the country’s largest Indigenous reserve, with special-forces environmental operatives destroying aircraft and seizing weapons and boats during an operation deep in the Amazon’s Yanomami territory.

Members of Brazil’s environmental protection agency Ibama – with support from the Indigenous agency Funai and the newly created ministry for Indigenous peoples – launched the long-awaited operation on Monday, with troops establishing a base along the Uraricoera river.

Wildcat tin ore and gold miners use the waterway – as well as dozens of illegal airstrips – to reach and supply their illegal outposts in Yanomami lands. In a statement on Wednesday lunchtime, Brazil’s government said the environmental squad had destroyed a helicopter, an airplane and a bulldozer used by mining mafias to drive clandestine roads through the region’s jungles.

Footage of the raid showed the chassis of a helicopter smoldering near a patch of rainforest after it was torched by Ibama agents in order to prevent it being used again.

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