Thousands of illegal gold-miners (garimpeiros) have invaded Yanomami Park, one of Brazil’s largest indigenous reserves, covering 96,650 square kilometers of rainforest in the states of Roraima and Amazonas, near the border with Venezuela. An incursion of this scale has not occurred for a generation, bringing back memories among Yanomami elders of the terrible period in the late 1980s, when some 40,000 garimpeiros moved onto their lands and about a fifth of the indigenous population died in just seven years due to violence, malaria, malnutrition, mercury poisoning and other causes. (Photo via Mongabay)
On his first day in office, President Jair Bolsonaro issued a measure taking away responsibility for indigenous land demarcation from the indigenous affairs agency, FUNAI, and handing it over to the Agriculture Ministry. In the same decree, Bolsonaro shifted authority over regularization of quilombos (Afro-Brazilian collective lands) from the agrarian reform institute, INCRA, to the Agriculture Ministry. The measure greatly weakens FUNAI, taking away its most important function. In practice, key areas of indigenous and quilombo policy will now be in the hands of agribusiness advocates—a long-time demand of the Bancada Ruralista (agribusiness lobby) in Congress. Bolsonaro is openly calling for abolition of Brazil's large indigenous reserves, a move with grave implications for the Amazon rainforest and global climate. (Photo: Kayapo women in Brazilian Amazon, via FUNAI)
Members of the Pemón indigenous people blocked the landing strip of Venezuela's Canaima National Park in protest of illegal miners operating on their lands.
Davi Kopenawa, shaman and internationally renowned spokesman for Brazil's Yanomami people, has demanded urgent police protection following a series of death threats.
Venezuela's Coordinating Body of Indigenous Organizations of Amazonas (COIAM) issued a statement rejecting a government decree to expand mining in the rainforest region.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights urged Venezuelan authorities “to conduct a thorough investigation” into claims of a massacre at a remote Yanomami setlement.
Venezuelan officials investigating the reported massacre of an isolated Yanomami community say they found no evidence of the attack—a claim dismissed by indigenous advocates.
Venezuelan authorities pledge to investigate breaking reports that outlaw miners comitted a “massacre” of an isolated Yanomami indigenous community on the Brazilian border.