The Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon – COIAB publicly expresses its strict support to the Munduruku people and to all the indigenous peoples who have been fighting incessantly for decades against mining activities within their territories. We also vehemently express our repudiation of the attempts of the current Brazilian government to regulate mining activities in Brazil, including in the indigenous lands.

In a meeting held at the Waro Apompu village, on August 20-22, 2020, the Munduruku people and the leaders of their representative associations discussed and deliberated, once again, about the closure of the mining activities that are within the Munduruku territory. They also expressed their opposition to Bill 191/20, which establishes the regulation of mining activities in the indigenous lands. They demanded that the Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles, the Minister of Defense, the Federal Prosecution Office, the Federal Police and the Office of the Public Defender urgently carry out operations to close all the mining activities in the Munduruku and Sai Cinza Indigenous Lands.

In the “Letter of the Munduruku People from the region of Rio Cururu, Anipiri, Rio Tapajós and Kajerid to demand the closure of the mining activities in the Munduruku Territory,” drafted during the meeting, the Munduruku explain the situation: “we are tired of denouncing the constant infringements of rights and threats against our lives, committed by the actions of miners within our lands. Our land was defined in order to protect our physical, cultural and ethnic integrity. We demand that the competent authorities are fair and honest in compliance with the law.”

The Federal Constitution of 1988, in Article 231, guaranteed that the indigenous territories are of traditional occupation and of exclusive use by the indigenous peoples. By allowing mineral exploitation in the Indigenous Lands, without any dialogue with the peoples and their organizations, the government is disrespecting our right to consultation and to free, prior and informed consent, which is guaranteed in Convention 169, of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples of the United Nations (UN).

In promoting the liberation of mining in indigenous lands, the President of the Republic Jair Bolsonaro and his ministers are allowing invaders to continue entering our territories, instead of protecting them. In order to serve the interests of the mining groups and to justify the rendition of the indigenous lands, the government also uses the false argument that the indigenous peoples and communities want mining in their territories. This demand is by certain individuals and does not represent the collective interests of most of the indigenous peoples of Brazil.

In the letter, the Munduruku also explain that the mining activity practiced in their lands has not brought benefits. On the contrary, “there are no specific results that benefit our people. What we realize is that the death threats and the intimidations against leaders and partners who are against these activities have increased significantly, as well as the proliferation of diseases, especially malaria.” They demand that the operation to close the mines on their lands is urgently resumed. “For us, mining has only brought violence, prostitution, destruction, pollution, deforestation, death threats and division between us.”

The Brazilian state cannot prevaricate its responsibility to protect and guarantee the safety and exclusive enjoyment of the territories by the indigenous peoples, using the argument that “the indigenous peoples are in favor of mining activities,” by using the example and behavior of individuals who do not represent the collective will of the people.

Therefore, we reinforce our support to the Munduruku people, vehemently repudiating this attack by the Bolsonaro government against the Brazilian legal system and our autonomy. We are against any attempt to legalize the mining activities within the indigenous lands and we reaffirm the commitment of the indigenous peoples to defend our territories, the environment and the Amazon.

Manaus/Amazonas, September 1, 2020.

Coordination of the Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon – COIAB

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