President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is under pressure to deliver on promises to eradicate illegal mining, particularly amid a recent backslide in efforts. Sunday’s parade comes as Brazil celebrates one year since Lula declared a public health emergency for the Yanomami people in the Amazon, who are suffering from malnutrition and diseases such as malaria as a consequence of illegal mining.

“Ours is a cry for help from Brazil and the world in general,” said Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami leader and shaman who advised the samba school on how to remain truthful to his people, and paraded with Salgueiro. “My hope is that the world, upon hearing our call, will put pressure on the Brazilian government to remove all the miners, destroyers of our mother Earth, who are soiling the water and killing fish.”

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    Sunday’s parade comes as Brazil celebrates one year since Lula declared a public health emergency for the Yanomami people in the Amazon, who are suffering from malnutrition and diseases such as malaria as a consequence of illegal mining.

    Lula swiftly created a dedicated inter-ministerial task force to fight illegal mining and in 2023, Brazil’s environmental agency destroyed a record 33 aircraft found on or near Yanomami territory.

    Humberto Freire, director of the newly created Amazon and environmental unit of the federal police, said officers also noticed miners have begun working in a much smaller, artisanal way, and that government agencies need to take stronger action.

    Lula had said the armed forces would play a key role in the fight, providing logistical support and security to public workers and federal agents on the ground who say they increasingly fear for their lives.

    Illegal planes are essential for transporting prospectors and equipment to far-flung reserves, as shown in a 2022 Associated Press investigation in Roraima state, where most mining affecting the Yanomami takes place.

    In a joint statement last month, the associations representing federal workers in environmental and Indigenous affairs accused the armed forces of “failing to fulfill their mission of supporting and facilitating the work of other agencies” combating illegal mining.


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