‘We expect the evacuation of invaders’, says president of Urihi Yanomami Association on expectations from Lula’s government

Ívina Garcia – Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – Illegal mining is one of the main problems faced by indigenous communities throughout the Legal Amazon region. During the last four years, the relaxation of laws that guaranteed exploitation near indigenous lands further intensified the invasions of mining.

The latest of these, signed by the then Minister of the Cabinet of Institutional Security (GSI), General Heleno, days before the end of the Bolsonaro Government, gave the go-ahead for prior consent for mining in the border strip of Yanomami Indigenous Land, located in Roraima (RR).

Read also: ‘We are witnessing the genocide’, says Yanomami association on neglecting indigenous peoples

Yanomami Indigenous Land (Leonardo Prado/PG/FotosPúblicas/2015)

Environmental degradation, poisoning, increased violence and various other atrocities have been experienced by indigenous peoples as a result of mining activities. This is why the victory of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) has been so emblematic when the subject is indigenous peoples. Combating illegal mining and deforestation were among Lula’s main campaign agendas.

Junior Hekurari Yanomami, president of the Urihi Associação Yanomami, told CENARIUM MAGAZINE that he expects the main measures of the current government to be the withdrawal of the invaders and greater health care.

“We expect measures to strengthen the Yanomami territory, starting with the withdrawal of the invaders who operate daily in illegal mining. A new census of the population needs to be carried out and the Yanomami district needs to be restructured so that integral health actions can be reestablished”, says Junior.

Junior Yanomami, president of Urihi Yanomami Association (Reproduction)

Health and safety

Currently, the T.I. Yanomami face frequent problems with health care, registering deaths due to delays in the delivery of aid. “Our territory is difficult to access, we still have isolated peoples, and the regions are far from each other, requiring the use of air rescue and transportation of health professionals working in the communities”, said Junior Hekurari.

Read more: Four indigenous children die in Roraima due to lack of air rescue, says Yanomami association

Last December 29, four Yanomami children died as a result of the lack of air rescue. At the time, the aircraft had been recalled to replace a part. According to Hekurari, another should have been put in place, which did not happen.

In addition, partial data from the Pastoral Land Commission show that four indigenous people died in 2022 due to land conflicts in the Yanomami Indigenous Territory. According to the survey, the Legal Amazon region accounts for more than half of all rural conflicts registered in the period from January to October 2022.

Children bathing in a river with mercury-contaminated water, in a region of the Yanomami TI known as Xitei (Dário Kopenawa/Reproduction)

Change of attitude

In one of the first acts of his government, President Lula revoked Decree No. 10.966 of February 11, 2022, which instituted the Program of Support for the Development of Artisanal and Small-Scale Mining.

The measure was considered a facilitator of illegal mining in indigenous lands and the revocation, carried out on January 1st, marked a change of posture in the protection of indigenous lands. Another strong point is the creation of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples, today headed by Sonia Guajajara, as well as the choice of an indigenous woman, Joenia Wapichana, to head the National Foundation of Indigenous Peoples (Funai).


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