« The gold miners dig everywhere like wild pigs. The forest’s rivers will soon be no more than miry backwaters, full of mud, motor oil, and trash. They also wash their gold powder in the streams, mixing it with mercury. All these dirty and dangerous things make the waters sick and the fish’s flesh soft and rotten. After the gold prospectors arrived the forest had become bad and was filled with xawara epidemic fumes. Since the gold miners arrived among us most of our fathers and grandfathers were devoured by their diseases. » – Yanomami spokesman and shaman Davi Kopenawa from Roraima, Brazil, The Falling Sky
What is my personal point of view regarding « obscenity »? I’ve had occasional problems, over many years, with photos of Yanomami living traditionally in the rainforest that I posted on Facebook. Due to censorship concerning their « community standards ». Facebook removes the « offending » photos and I’ve been sanctioned by having my ability to respond or post blocked for from one to three days…
The photo below of a Yanomami woman and her child is considered « offensive » so I subsequently hid areas of their anatomy in order to conform to Facebook « community standards ».
But Facebook is not alone in censoring traditional communities’ way of living. My film of instants of daily life of a Yanomami community in the Amazon Rainforest of Venezuela that’s been on Youtube since 2014 is now, since 2020, limited to viewers over 18 because of: « Age-restricted video (based on Community Guidelines) »
What I personally find offensive is the photo below – the forest ravaged and poisoned by gold mining in indigenous territories. The destruction of forests, contamination of rivers, fish and people by mercury as well as cyanide is utterly obscene.
Another photo that I find profoundly obscene is this photo of children in a gold mining site, working and wading in mercury-laden water. Most of the workers in the illegal gold mines outside the Arco Minero del Orinoco in Venezuela live in makeshift shelters with plastic tarps and wooden planks around the gold mines. There are an estimated 300,000 gold miners and 45% are children! The damage to their health from mercury poisoning is irreversible.
Another abysmally obscene photo was taken from space revealing what appear to be « rivers of gold » in the Madre de Dios region of Peru but actually shows contaminated rivers and gold mining damage to the rainforest biosphere. Though they look like pools of pure gold; they’re actually pits of toxic mud from gold mining sites! The Madre de Dios gold rush is destroying huge swathes of forest in one of the world’s most biodiverse regions, leaving a barren, lunar landscape strewn with craters filled with stagnant water and rivers poisoned with mercury…
Gold mining operations around the world use mercury to separate gold from the soil, dumping the waste into nearby rivers, contaminating wildlife, fish and birds, as well as indigenous people and the miners themselves, including tens of thousands of child workers. There are estimations of 1,200 girls between 12 and 17 forcibly prostituted to the miners in Peru’s Madre de Dios region alone. That is my definition of abject obscenity.
THIS fact, too, is obscene: Tens of thousands of rainforest trees must be uprooted, hundreds of tons of soil mined and mixed with dozens of tons of toxic environmental pollutants that contaminate indigenous land and water sources in order to extract 1 1/2 grams of gold per ton of polluted soil for that one special gold ring, item of gold jewelry, gold watch or gold accessory…
PLEASE DON’T BUY OR WEAR GOLD!
LISTEN TO THE YANOMAMI SHAMAN’S MESSAGE: