Genocide Of the Yanomami People in Brazil: An Announced Tragedy Involving Bolsonaro

The Supreme Court of Brazil ordered the Prosecutor's Office to investigate members of the Government of Jair Bolsonaro to determine their responsibility in the genocide of the Yanomami people.

Photograph of the Yanomami people

Photo: Wikimedia- Ambar

LatinAmerican Post | María Fernanda Ramírez Ramos

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Leer en español: Genocidio del pueblo Yanomami en Brasil: una tragedia anunciada que implica a Bolsonaro

On Monday, January 30, Luis Roberto Barroso, of the Federal Supreme Court (STF) determined that the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic (PGR), the Military Public Ministry (MPM), the Ministry of Justice and Public Security (MJ) and the Superintendence Regional Federal Police of Roraima must investigate the participation of the Government of Bolsonaro for actions that led to multiple crimes. Thus, the Supreme Court of Brazil ordered the Prosecutor's Office to investigate former officials for their responsibility in the abandonment of the Amazonian Yanomami people and for committing multiple environmental crimes in the Amazon.

The orders of Barroso also establishes the expulsion of illegal miners from the Karipuna, Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, Kayapó, Araribóia, Mundurucu y Trincheira Bacaja indigenous lands, as well as the obligation of the Federal Government to present a diagnostic report on the situation of indigenous communities. It is estimated that there are around 20,000 illegal miners in the area, in search of other resources, who are also armed actors who exercise violence against indigenous populations.

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The decision was made based on reports and requests submitted by the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB) , an organization that works for the rights of native peoples. “The choice of the federal government to disobey Brazilian legislation and the judicial decisions of the national Judiciary translate concretely into the situation that the Yanomami live: between 25 and 30 thousand searchers have invaded and are destroying their traditional territory; health is seriously compromised, cases of death from malnutrition and malaria are recurrent, women and girls are seduced by invaders and prostituted; the traditional way of life cannot reproduce due to food insecurity; among many other forms of violence against the bodies and the Yanomami territory”, points out the APIB.

Extractivism and State Abandonment: A Tragedy Announced

As dire as the situation is, it is not entirely surprising. For years various organizations had already made complaints about the situation in which the indigenous peoples of the Amazon were living. In this sense, it is a foretold tragedy. In fact, the same APIB in 2021 filed complaints with the International Criminal Court for the indigenous genocide that the Bolsonaro government was already committing. Likewise, in 2021 the STP issued protection orders for the Munduruku and Yanomami peoples in the face of violence against them, largely caused by agents involved in the exploitation of Amazon resources.

However, the serious situation of the indigenous peoples continued and it seems that it has exploded, since measures are already beginning to be taken, although the human suffering can no longer be reversed. On January 20, 2023, President Lula da Silva decreed a health emergency in the area, which has put care for the Yanomami population into action.

On December 14, the Brazilian journalist Rafael Oliveira published a report on the situation of abandonment that the Yanomami people have experienced in the investigative media Agência Pública . In said investigation, it is noted that "between 2019 and 2021, at least 404 children under the age of 5 died in indigenous territory from causes that could have been prevented or treated. "In this investigative work, the misery into which this community has been plunged due to the abandonment of the state is portrayed. Hunger, disease, environmental degradation and violence are factors that combine in this humanitarian and environmental crisis.

Humberto Costa, senator and president of the Senate Human Rights Commission, has published through his social networks multiple journalistic coverages that have been made about the situation of the Yanomami people. The images are terrifying and although they show people in situations of extreme thinness and poor conditions, they become necessary to understand the dimension of the matter.

Urgent Justice and Reparation for Indigenous Peoples

In addition to the need for justice to act, investigate and convict those responsible for this situation, it is also urgent that the new government provide an adequate response to the humanitarian crisis. In fact, as we have pointed out, Lula da Silva has already decreed a health emergency in the territory and established a Situation Room and the Public Health Emergency Operations Center (COE-Yanomami). This has allowed the arrival of State institutions and social organizations that have traveled to the Amazon to evacuate the sick. The hundreds of chronically malnourished children are being treated with priority. However, there are also many malaria sufferers and problems associated with poor nutrition.

"In close coordination with other United Nations agencies in Brazil and indigenous organizations, UNICEF is articulating its contributions in the areas of health, nutrition, water, sanitation and child protection . The actions are being developed in coordination with Sesai and Special Health Districts Indigenous Peoples (DSEI), with the aim of supporting and complementing the emergency response led by the Federal Government in the care of children, adolescents and pregnant women". UNICEF said in a press release.

On the other hand, it is necessary to establish guarantees so that this crisis does not continue to repeat itself. For this it is impossible to have an approach that does not consider environmental problems and extractivism. The gold rush and for natural resources in Brazil today is stained with blood, and it also splashes large multinationals and companies. It is proven that the Bolsonaro government gave many facilities to companies to exploit the Amazon, without any control. The journalist Andy Robinson published an article in Contexto y Acción entitled " Rolex, Tiffany, Bulgari and Yanomami 'blood gold'" , where he denounces that many luxury companies do not give explanations about the origin of the gold they use, which probably comes from illegal mining.

Survival International, an international organization dedicated to promoting the rights of indigenous peoples, has sent a 6-point petition to the new government of Lula da Silva to act without delay to restore the rights of the Yanomami. “This is a deliberate crisis, sparked by intruders and fueled by Bolsonaro, who has encouraged the massive invasion and destruction of Yanomami land. Their rivers and fish are now contaminated with toxic levels of mercury, criminal mafias control access to many communities, and attack, rape and murder the Yanomami. Their children are literally starving" said Fiona Watson, director of research and campaigns for the organization.

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