This page was created in 2008 and may contain language which is now outdated.
Two Yanomami Indian communities have written to the Brazilian government, denouncing the invasion of their land by illegal gold miners.
Over a thousand gold miners are working illegally on Yanomami land, transmitting deadly diseases like malaria and polluting the rivers and forest with mercury. Illegal mining has recently boomed due to the rise in the price of gold.
The letters, from the Alto Catrimani and Paapiú communities in the Amazon state of Roraima, are addressed to the government’s Indian affairs department, FUNAI. They report that the communities are starting to suffer from malnutrition, as fish are scarce and the river water cannot be drunk due to pollution from the mining.
The Yanomami are one of the largest relatively isolated tribes in South America. Although their territory has been recognised and signed into Brazilian law, the Yanomami’s survival is being threatened. Cattle ranchers are invading and deforesting the eastern fringe of their land and critical medical care is not reaching them because of corruption and incompetence in Brazil’s National Health Foundation (FUNASA).
The letters have been circulated by the Yanomami association, Hutukara. They end with an urgent appeal to the authorities to remove all the miners immediately.
Watch a video of leader Davi Kopenawa Yanomami talking about the impact of mining
Read the letters (in Portuguese)