Brazilian authorities said Wednesday that they have begun to regain control of the Yanomami indigenous territory in the Amazon rainforest, with the start of the expulsion of thousands of illegal miners operating in the area.
The operation to regain control of the region began on Monday and involves agents of the Brazilian Environmental Institute (Ibama), with the support of the National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples (Funai) and police officers of the National Force.
Ibama informed in a statement that as of Tuesday night, the agents destroyed a helicopter, a light aircraft and an excavator, as well as other equipment used by the approximately 15,000 miners who were operating illegally in the area and who are accused of causing a humanitarian crisis that threatens the Yanomami population.
Also confiscated were 2 weapons and 3 speedboats of 12 meters in length, which will be used by the authorities to provide logistical support to the operation.
Brazilian institutions have installed a control base on the Uraricoera river to prevent the supply of illegal mines and plan to set up other similar posts in other parts of this jungle region.
At the same time, the Air Force has deployed airplanes to inhibit illegal miners’ air traffic in the region, bordering Venezuela.
Due to pressure from the authorities, thousands of illegal miners and their families have in recent days abandoned the camps they had set up in the jungle to extract gold from the indigenous reserve, which is prohibited by the Brazilian Constitution.
An EFE photographer witnessed a group of about 30 people fleeing from one of the improvised mines set up in the middle of the jungle.
The number of illegal miners soared in indigenous lands in the last four years, encouraged by the government of the ultra-right-wing Jair Bolsonaro, a staunch advocate of the exploitation of Amazonian resources.
Last week President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva ordered the removal of illegal miners from Yanomami land, which is the largest indigenous territory in the country.
The government decreed a state of health emergency due to severe malnutrition and diseases affecting a large number of Yanomami, partly related to toxic products used by the miners.
The Brazilian Air Force has distributed 75 tons of food and medicines to the indigenous villages and has transferred dozens of people to a field hospital in Boa Vista, capital of the state of Roraima.
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.