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Article

30 Nov 2022

Author:
Mongabay

Brazil: Illegal miners co-opt Yanomami youth to work for derisory wages on indigenous lands

APIB

"Indigenous youths lured by the illegal mines destroying their Amazon homeland", 30 September 2022

...Illegal mining and the fortunes promised by gold miners is swaying Indigenous youth in the village. An increasing number of members of the next generation are turning away from their roles in protecting their ancestral forests and turning toward illegal mining. This is mainly due to lack of other economic opportunities and the disintegration of traditional society...

“Before, illegal miners only focused on the leaders, but in the last 10 years, they started preying on the youth, easier to bait into working in the garimpo,” Mauricio says. The proximity between the garimpeiros and the Yek’wana community worries him...

...Some are poorly paid and have to front a large sum just for the trip to the mining camp, while others make a decent amount of money, only to spend their earnings at the mining site. Everything is available in the garimpos: alcohol, drugs, food, even internet access. The garimpeiros first used the internet to communicate with other miners to warn of upcoming police raids. But they soon discovered that it was also a great tool to attract young Indigenous people to the camps. In the Indigenous villages, by contrast, internet connectivity is rare and far between...

This mercury then sinks into the river, contaminates the water and is consumed by the fish...It works its way up the entire food chain and into the Indigenous communities that eat the fish and drink from and bathe in the river water...

The PCC, or Primeiro Comando de la Capital — a powerful gang from the south of Brazil that’s involved in drug trafficking, racketeering, extortion and, most recently, gold trafficking — has ruled over this part of the territory since 2018...

... Sex work and sexual exploitation of young Indigenous girls is a pressing issue in communities near the camps. An investigation found that young adults and girls as young as 11 were bribed to stay in tents with miners and offered food, clothes and work material in exchange for sex...