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Amazon gold miners brag about murders

by Tegan Mazur - Copy Desk Chief
Tue, Sep 19th 2017 09:00 pm

This is not one of those instances where I take pleasure in being right. Not that it was very difficult to see. Two weeks ago I discussed Brazil’s decision to begin opening up certain parts of the Amazon to mining, gold among the chief precious materials believed to be in the opened areas.

Brazil maintained that they were opening only limited sections, that the ecosystem would not suffer tremendously for it, and that the natives would not be negatively affected. Well, lo and behold it seems that Brazil could not keep its promise.

Of course I’m not surprised. Who would be surprised by this? It’s just all so very petty and human of us. I want this shiny rock so I’m going to kill you for it. Trees? Who needs them? Oxygen is overrated anyways. Around and around we go, the petty cycle of the human condition.

A group of miners allegedly came upon an indigenous group while the natives were gathering eggs along the river. Later they were allegedly heard bragging about the killings at a bar, even showing off a hand carved paddle taken from one of the bodies. They were also allegedly heard bragging about cutting up the bodies and throwing the dismembered body parts into the river.

According to the New York Times article, “’Uncontacted’ Amazon Tribe Member Reported Killed In Brazil,” a global indigenous rights group known as Survival International released a statement on the alleged events.

“If the investigation confirms the reports, it will be yet another genocidal massacre resulting directly from the Brazilian government’s failure to protect isolated tribes – something that is guaranteed in the constitution,” senior campaigner for the group, Sarah Shenker said.

Shenker said, “…yet another genocidal massacre…” due to the fact that there is a case of a very similar nature that has been an open case since February of this year.

Gold diggers brutally commit genocide then brag about it in a bar- it almost sounds too sinister and brutal to be real. How many times does the world have to annihilate peaceful natives for petty financial gain before we collectively agree that it has to stop once and for all? It seems instead that we have collectively agreed that it’s just something that goes on.

I don’t want to come off as too righteous. After all, I grew up in the country that put genocide on the map in the western hemisphere; they don’t call it the trail of tears because everyone had a swell time. However, you can’t ignore the fact that these tribes in the Amazon are beyond vulnerable.

It’s not just bloodthirsty gold miners either. According to the New York Times, the tribes that live around the Amazon are in danger from more than just hostile outsiders; the tribes can also be wiped out by outsiders by means of various pathogens which the tribes have no immunity to. In the 1950s, a German ethnographer visited and left behind a pathogen that killed about 200 people.

So if the lives of so many are hanging on such a delicate balance, why is Brazil just letting murderous gold miners waltz around their country? Well, money and resources naturally, but why are we not saying something, not just America, but the world? Because every country has got their hand in the cookie jar of course, so to speak.

I wish I had a solution. I wish someone had a solution. I wish the solution could just be as easy as “don’t kill innocent natives and take from their land.” All I can do, all any of us can do, I guess, is voice our opposition, hope that organizations like Survival International can make the difference, and join the cause that we cannot help but feel impassioned by.

In the end it isn’t government policies that make the difference, it’s groups that are devoted. In Brazil we have now seen the failings of a government that is not devoted to protecting the rights of the natives, so it’s time to put our faith in the private groups.

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