Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro promised the indigenous Yanomami people in remarks released on Sunday that there would be no mining on their land unless they wanted to.
The right-wing president’s remarks come amid accusations by the Yanomami that their land is being seized and that they themselves are being attacked by people who illegally mine.
“If you don’t want mining, there won’t be mining. There are indigenous brothers in other places, inside and outside the Amazon who want mining, who want to cultivate the land, and we will respect their wishes, ”Bolsonaro said. said in a video posted Sunday of a meeting he held last week with Yanomami leaders.
The government is preparing a law to regulate mining on lands allocated to indigenous peoples.
The Yanomami people have been warning since last year of tense conditions in their vast 96,000 square kilometer reserve spread across Roraima and Amazonas states, home to some 27,000 indigenous people.
Indigenous advocacy groups and conservation organizations say indigenous peoples’ lands are being invaded with the encouragement of Bolsonaro’s public comments.
At last week’s meeting, the president said the military would defend the rights of the Yanomami, but made no mention of attacks by wild miners.
Illegal mining, one of the main causes of the destruction of the Amazon Basin region, increased by 30% last year in Yanomami land, destroying an area equivalent to 500 football fields, according to a report released in March by the Hutukara Yanomami association.
For weeks, the natives of Yanomami and Mundurucu territories have denounced attacks by illegal miners.
A Supreme Court judge last week ordered Bolsonaro’s government to take “necessary measures” to protect the land.
© 2021 AFP