Brazil says illegal miners driven from Indigenous territory, but ‘war’ not over – by Tom Phillips (The Guardian – July 10, 2023)

Country’s top cop said 90% of miners despoiling Yanomami land had been expelled, though experts say they are only displaced

Brazil’s top federal police chief for the Amazon has celebrated the government’s success in driving thousands of illegal miners from the country’s largest Indigenous territory, but warned the “war” against environmental criminals is not yet over.

Speaking during a visit to the Amazon city of Belém, Humberto Freire estimated environmental and police special forces had expelled 90% of the 20,000 miners who had been devastating the protected Yanomami territory, since launching their clampdown in February.

Freire, who was appointed after Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva became president in January, said the eviction of those garimpeiros was bearing fruit. “In April 2022, we received 444 mine-related deforestation alerts. In April 2023, it was 19 – a reduction of more than 95%. In May, there were 10 alerts and in the first half of June none at all. So we’ve seen a significant reduction.”

Images released by Brazil’s armed forces last week showed the waters of the Uraricoera River, which runs through the Portugal-sized Indigenous enclave, had become dramatically less cloudy, purportedly as a result of the destruction of illegal mines.

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