After 25 years of fruitless efforts, a joint operation from the Brazilian Armed Forces and Federal Police to fight illegal gold mining in the state of Roraima is showing results after three months. During that time, the Army registered the exit of 1,900 miners who left Yanomami lands, apprehended 750 kilos of gold, along with several vehicles, motors, weapons, and provisions, causing a visible reduction in illegal mining.
The operation, called Curare9, involves over a thousand soldiers working locally. The Federal Police also seized airplanes and arrested several people associated with the illegal gold mining production chain. One of them was Pedro Emiliano Garcia, convicted of genocide in the so-called "Haximu Massacre" in 1993. Currently, he was operating illegal flights to indigenous land.
"The miners may think that we are here for a short time. But once they realize we are here for the long term, they will leave," said general Gustavo Henrique Dutra, one of the operation's commanders, to Folha in August.
The illegal mining in Yanomami lands reached its peak in the late 1980s, during the Sarney administration (1985-1990), when an estimated 40,000 miners were the double of the indigenous populations.
In early 2018, official agencies and indigenous groups estimated the population of illegal miners in 5,000.
Translated by NATASHA MADOV