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Brazil’s Bold Plan to Save the Amazon’s Yanomami Tribe

Government pledges $245 million to protect Indigenous people from illegal miners

by Victor Adetimilehin

Brazil’s government has announced a new plan to end the humanitarian crisis in the Yanomami Indigenous territory, where illegal mining and deforestation have threatened the survival of one of the largest tribes in the Amazon.

The plan, unveiled by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Tuesday, includes a local security headquarters, food distribution, and a new health center. The government will spend 1.2 billion reais ($245 million) on the initiative, which aims to reach a definitive solution for the Yanomami people.

The Yanomami territory, an area about the size of Portugal, is home to some 30,000 Indigenous people who live on the border with Venezuela. Gold miners have been invading the tribe’s land for decades, but the situation worsened in recent years under former far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, who dismantled environmental protections and encouraged mining in the region.

The illegal miners have brought violence, pollution, disease, and hunger to the Yanomami communities, as well as destroying their forests and rivers. According to a report by the Hutukara Yanomami Association, more than 20,000 miners are currently operating in the territory, causing irreversible damage to the environment and the health of the Indigenous people.


A Coordinated Response

The government’s plan is the result of a coordinated effort by several ministries, environmental and Indigenous agencies, military commanders, and police chiefs.

However, It follows a year-long task force led by the federal police, which managed to evict 80% of the estimated miners in the territory.

Federal Police Director General Andrei Rodrigues, who attended the emergency meeting on Tuesday, said that police action alone was not enough to defend the Yanomami territory. He said the whole state had to be present, providing social services, health, and education to the Indigenous people.

In addition, he also said that the armed forces had to play a key role, not only to protect the Yanomami from the miners, but also to provide logistical support in an inaccessible jungle area where roads are non-existent.

Rodrigues said the plan was to ensure the Yanomami people could have their environment preserved and return to a normal life. “It has to be a continuous and permanent action by the Brazilian state to oust the criminals and guarantee the survival of the Indigenous people,” he said.

Furthermore, the announcement of the plan was welcomed by Yanomami leaders, who have been calling for urgent action from the government for years. They said they hoped the plan would be implemented effectively and respect their rights and culture.

Dario Kopenawa, vice-president of the Hutukara Yanomami Association, said he was happy with the government’s initiative, but also cautious. He said he wanted to see concrete results and not just promises.

“We want the government to fulfill its duty and protect our land, our lives, and our future. We want to live in peace and harmony with nature, without the threat of the miners and their diseases,” he said.

In conclusion, Kopenawa said he believed the plan was a sign of hope for the Yanomami people, who have been suffering for too long. He said he hoped the plan would inspire other governments and organizations to join the fight to protect the Amazon and its Indigenous peoples.


Source: Reuters 

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