When the cacique Raoni Metuktire came to Paris to speak, he asked that Europeans stop eating meat in order to protect the peoples of the Xingu from the destruction of their territory by the agro-industry. Along the same lines, all of you, speaking on behalf of the Yanomami, should ask people in Europe to stop buying, selling and wearing gold in order to protect Yanomami territory.
Cartier, the luxury gold watch and jewelry company inviting you to come to Paris to speak is making money from the sympathy that French people feel for the Yanomami and using you all as promotional gifts to greenwash their involvement in the extractivist gold industry. The exposition “The Yanomami Struggle” is being presented by the very industry that is causing the destruction to indigenous lives. Cartier operates more than 300 stores in 125 countries and in 2018 was ranked by Forbes as the world’s 59th most wealthy and valuable brand.
There is no sustainable way to extract gold. Forests are destroyed to make way for mining and rivers are contaminated. Cyanide is used in the legal gold mining industry instead of the mercury used in illegal mining but the toxic results of using cyanide are the same. The legal gold industry is a labyrinth of miners, bankers, traffickers, and luxury shops. Even in large-scale, industrial legal gold mining there are lax regulations, land grabbing, government-sanctioned expropriation and toxic waste.
Drug cartels and organized crime control the illegal gold distribution market and this illegal supply chain goes all over the globe, commanding an important share of the world’s gold market. These narco-traffickers are contributing to deadly violence in indigenous territories of the Amazon region. Their operations used to rely principally on drug trafficking and now depend on buying and selling gold in order to launder their illegal drug money. One of the reasons illegal gold is so valuable to criminal groups is that, unlike cocaine, there’s a legal version that looks exactly like it. Once gold is processed in a refinery, it is no longer traceable and criminal networks push dirty gold to corporations like Cartier, among others.
Cartier represents the commodity fetishism of luxury jewelry – items that are functionally useless to human society. You can click on this link: cartier.com.br to see what luxury gold items they are selling in Brazil and then you can click on Fondation Cartier at the bottom of the page to see how they are selling you to make it seem as though they care about the forest and indigenous people while they continue to sell gold to the world.
“You must make every choice as though the life of your Earth Mother depended upon it, as though your own life depended upon it, as though your children’s lives depended upon it.” – John Lundin