Yanomami slam government over mining

April 11, 2008

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Yanomami and Yekuana Indians from two communities have denounced the Brazilian government’s attempts to persuade them to accept large-scale mining on their land.

Yanomami and Yekuana from two communities, Xirimifiki and Auaris, have complained that government officials visited their communities uninvited in February, offered them presents, and told them they should accept the government’s plans to open their land to mining.

When the officials arrived at Xirimifiki, only 25 young people and one leader were present to hear their speeches, as the rest of the community were away on hunting and fishing trips. Over 2,000 Yanomami live in the surrounding area.

Community leader Rezende Sanuma, who was present when the officials visited Auaris, said, ‘The community did not know about the visit, and had not been consulted about whether or not they wanted to receive the officials or to discuss mining.’

The Yanomami association, Hutukara, said, ‘[The officials] made things very difficult for us, they tried to convince our leaders and to sell the benefits of mining, offering presents. They didn’t even take notes of what we said or what the community leaders said.’

Read Hutukara’s report (in Portuguese) on the visit by the congressmen

The Brazilian congress is debating a bill which if approved will open up Indigenous land all over Brazil to large-scale mining.