« The reality we are living and its consequences is one of violence and vulnerability. My people are suffering. We ask for the support of the global population to join our cry for help for the immediate withdrawal of the gold miners from our territory! »
- Yanomami spokesman Dario Kopenawa.
The tragedy for the Yanomami began many decades ago when illegal wildcat gold miners invaded their territory, protected in theory by Brazil’s constitution, but not in fact.
The gold miners uproot trees in the rainforest in order to excavate the soil and the sand in the riverbeds using heavy machinery. Then they use high-powered hoses and diesel pumps to break up the sediment to look for gold, leaving craters filled with stagnant, mercury-contaminated water across the degraded forest.
The deafening noise of the machines frightens away the game animals that the Yanomami traditionally hunt to feed the community. The mercury the prospectors use to amalgamate gold into nuggets contaminates the soil and water. Fishing for the community is no longer possible because the fish are poisoned by mercury. There is no longer unpolluted water in the streams and rivers to drink, cook with, or bathe in.
Six kilos of mercury is poured into the forest waterways for each one kilo of gold extracted. The Bolsonaro government is encouraging gold mining and other extractive industries in Indigenous Lands and pushing through legislation to legalize it. The price of gold is skyrocketing and organized criminals are bankrolling gold mining operations; supplying machinery, dredges, helicopters and planes. This deadly mathematics has led to rampant malnutrition in Yanomami communities.
The gold miners also propagate diseases, including covid-19 and malaria. Cases of malaria are exploding among Indigenous communities, leaving them sick and lethargic. This gold mining invasion of Yanomami territory deprives communities of their traditional means of subsistance and has left them vulnerable. Gold miners are now preying on teenaged girls and children and exploiting and abusing them sexually. Some Yanomami girls are pregnant and several have died from the abuse.
«The gold miners are destroying our rivers, our forest and our children. Our air is no longer pure, our game disappears and our people weep and cry out for clean water. We want to live in peace. We want our Yanomami Territory back.»
- Yanomami spokesman Júnior Hekurari Yanomami
Please help the Yanomami, you, too!
Please Boycott Gold and all products from Deforestation!