Illegal Miners Close Airport during Environment Minister's Visit to Pará

Salles traveled to monitor Ibama's operation against illegal mining in indigenous land


On Wednesday (5), the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, encountered a protest by prospectors during a visit to Jacareacanga (PA), 1,695 km from Belém. He visited the region to monitor an Ibama operation against illegal gold mines in the Munduruku Indigenous Land (TI).

Images distributed on social networks show non-indigenous gold miners and Mundurucus closing the runway at Jacareacanga airport, after the departure of Salles, who visited the region accompanied by a group of journalists.

JACAREACANGA,PA - 05/08/2020 - Salles traveled to monitor Ibama's operation against illegal mining in indigenous land (Foto: Reproducao/ Facebook) - Reproducao/ Facebook

One of the prospectors recorded a video in front of an Air Force plane in which he says that "the prospector does things for the indigenous people here." According to a survey by the NGO Greenpeace, the Alto Tapajós region, where TI Munduruku is located, concentrates 60% of the destruction caused by mining in the entire Amazon over the past 12 months.

Illegal activity is carried out utilizing PCs (backhoes), which quickly destroy the streams and rivers in the region, devastating the banks, dumping tons of waste, and altering the watercourses.

The operation carried out on Wednesday was known to illegal miners at least since Sunday, when sites in the region reported the arrival in Jacareacanga of military personnel. They are fighting environmental crimes through Operation Verde Brasil 2, together with Ibama.

Greenpeace says the increase in illegal mining in the region stems from President Jair Bolsonaro's promises to legalize activity in indigenous lands.

Folha sought Salles to question Ibama's strategy at TI Munduruku, but there was no response until the conclusion of this text.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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