Scores of Amazon Indigenous Tribe Members Killed by Miners

Picture: Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom (CC)

Via Common Dreams:

As many as 80 Yanomami Indians have been killed in a “massacre” carried out by unauthorized gold miners from Brazil, leaving charred remains of a community and polluted rivers in its wake.

Survival International, a London-based groups that works for tribal peoples’ rights worldwide, says that the massacre took place in July but news of the event is only coming to light now due to the community’s remote location in Venezuela’s Momoi region close to the border with Brazil.

The Guardian reports on the details of the massacre: “According to local testimonies an armed group flew over in a helicopter, opening fire with guns and launching explosives into Irotatheri settlement in the High Ocamo area. The village was home to about 80 people and only three had been accounted for as survivors, according to people from a neighbouring village and indigenous rights activists.”

Witnesses who saw the aftermath of the massacre reported seeing “burnt bodies and bones” and a burnt communal home.

Luis Shatiwe Yanomami, a leader of the Yanomami organization Horonami, told Survival International that the problem of illegal mining has been ongoing. “‘For three years we have been denouncing the situation. There are lots of goldminers working illegally in the forest.”

Luis Bello, a lawyer in Puerto Ayacucho who defends indigenous rights, says that these mining activities are on the rise and “have also become more sophisticated. They used to fly in and land in clandestine strips, now they come in helicopters and use huge extracting machinery that is decimating the jungle.”

Survival International says that the number of unauthorized gold miners in Yanomami territory now number 1,000. When they come, they bring diseases like malaria to the isolated tribe. The mining itself is devastating to the local environment, as it pollutes rivers with mercury. On top of the mining, the tribe faces threats from cattle ranchers who bring deforestation to the rainforest.

“This is another appalling tragedy for the Yanomami – heaping crime upon crime. All Amazonian governments must stop the rampant illegal mining, logging and settlement in indigenous territories. It inevitably leads to massacres of Indian men, women and children. The Venezuelan authorities must now bring the killers to swift justice, and send a signal throughout the region that Indians can no longer be killed with impunity. The mining and logging must be stopped,” said Stephen Corry, Director of Survival International

30 Comments on "Scores of Amazon Indigenous Tribe Members Killed by Miners"

  1. TennesseeCyberian | Sep 1, 2012 at 6:47 pm |

    Technological Man kills to stab his proboscis into the oil fields and he kills to grub for gold in the Amazon.  His nature is that of an insect.

  2. This is sickening.

  3. Anarchy Pony | Sep 2, 2012 at 1:42 am |

    Who’s supposed to be the savages again?

  4. Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 2, 2012 at 4:28 am |

    It’s happening to indigenous people worldwide. The Yanomami are a very complex psychedelic-shaman tribe, thousands of years compiling knowledge on psychedelic shamanism. Do what you can for the Yanomami people 

  5. And people keep insisting shit like this is behind us.

  6. Jesus Borg | Sep 2, 2012 at 8:29 am |

    Its kind of a weird situation. I mean what do you do with these people? Is protecting them like an endangered species like Tigers  and setting up preserves for them the answer? If so, isn’t that a little strange? What about education, health care, voting etc.? Anyway Tigers aren’t doing well either. Extraction based economies are a big problem in the developing world due to all kinds of reasons.

     Second of all of all these miners are probably not Conquistadors. They could be Indios from other tribes that are slightly more modernized and trying to make money and have some degree of affluence and security.

    I don’t have a knee jerk take on this. “like Navi good, white imperialist Space men bad” Life is a bit more complex.

    • Really?  You have trouble condemning the massacre because the murderers might not be of European descent?

      • Jesus Borg | Sep 2, 2012 at 2:32 pm |

        My Bad. Let’s be simplistic. Armchair keyboard warriors from the West to the Rescue!

        Just knowing you guys are posting on the internet on their behalf is probably all they need.

        • I don’t see how the fact that I can’t do anything about mass murder means that my disapproval of it is “simplistic.”

          • Jesus Borg | Sep 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm |

            I guess what has everybody’s panties in a wad is the phrase “what to do with these people” which was intended more as “how can anyone possibly help these people?”

            Maybe its just wishful thinking, but possibly a good use for this website is constructive brain storming for solutions rather than merely cathartic self righteous indignation. But I mean, like DUH! No shit! massacring natives=Bad!

            But what to do? Go into the Rainforest and arm them? Radicalize them? Teah them dialectical materialism? I mean This whole, Preservation thing of making a reserve for them just strikes me as really odd. But I am sure just the idea of knowing they are there donning war paint and whatever they do makes people feel really good, that like to romanticize them.

            I hear the women have kind of a shit deal, just to be Frank. But sure that doesn’t mean they should all be shot from helicoptors. I just find that on the ground the way things are ion developing countries isn’t as black and white of a picture as you may get from watching lots of Discovery Channel.

          • TennesseeCyberian | Sep 2, 2012 at 8:05 pm |

            Yeah, the Yanomami have been observed gang-raping women during tribal raids, and to use rape as punishment against their own tribe’s women.  America is pretty wild, but the Yanomami are simply savage.

            Saying “what do you do with these people” sounds heartless, callous, like you think of them as no better than animals–that’s why you’re getting shit for it. 

            How ironic that aside from purchasing a ticket to the Amazon and chaining themselves to a tree, the only solution besides saying tsk-tsk to you that these cats can come up with is to cite anthropologists who study the Yanomami like chimpanzees, or throw money at advocates who sound suspiciously similar to the “Save the Whales” folks.  That’s because these emotions are all abstract–none of them hang out with any Yanomami (or whales,) and most of them wouldn’t want to.

            Does that make them hypocrites?  Only if they get in your face about it.

            That said, I’m all for saving the whales–the Japanese be damned–and I think that chimps and Yanomami and Bantus and Inuits should be studied assiduously by social scientists, I think those studies should be popularized to evoke empathy on the part of the Western public, and I strongly believe that these primitive traditions should be respected and preserved at the expense of any industrial or commercial profits.

            Now, if it was down to me or the Yanomami, it would be a different story…but I don’t see that ever being an issue.

          • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 3, 2012 at 6:27 am |

            Your living in a world of unfounded fears nurtured by ignorance. Why comment on this article? So you can profess your love for your own culture and deride other cultures as savage. You really think your a better species of human? no, you pathetic little cockroach.

            Your constantly stinking up disinfo’s comment section with your highschool level trolling, you know nothing about these people and only present yourself as another ignorant slob howling towards the wind.  

          • TennesseeCyberian | Sep 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm |

            Pretty eloquent, Mr. Monkey.

            I’m not sure where you got the “unfounded fears” bit, though.  The Yanomami wouldn’t bother me unless they moved into the apartment next door.  Even then, I’m sure we could party once in a while.

            As for my “ignorance,” are you so in enamoured by the Yanomami’s ayahuasca rites that you forgot about all the rape and war

            Ever heard of Kenneth Good? David Chanoff?


            Despite all that, anyone who has ever witnessed a corporate office would know that “savage” is more fun than “tamed.”

          • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 4, 2012 at 5:58 am |

            I can’t be bothered replying to an obvious racist stuck in a linear ‘savage to civilized’ paradigm. Your comments about the yanomami have been widely discredited. I have work to do, but i’m sure you have plenty more spare time to spew your beliefs online to anyone who will listen.

          • TennesseeCyberian | Sep 4, 2012 at 8:52 am |

            “Your comments about the yanomami have been widely discredited.”

            By who? Let’s see some facts, Jack.

          • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 4, 2012 at 1:41 pm |

            Yanomami warfare by Brian Ferfuson is on google. This forum wont let me post the link.

          • TennesseeCyberian | Sep 4, 2012 at 4:59 pm |

            Brian Ferguson doesn’t argue against the evidence that wife-beating, rape, and intertribal warfare are common among the Yanomami. He just shifts the blame for violence onto Western influence. And maybe he’s right.

            That would make the Yanomami a highly impressionable people, wouldn’t it?

          • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm |

            Actually he does argue that they are not common. It’s extremely rare in communities that havent been systematically dismantled and destroyed by outside forces. Impressionable? get a clue, if anyone needs anthropology 101 it’s you.

          • Yourmamma | Sep 3, 2012 at 9:12 pm |

             I never heard about the Yanomami raping women.  I think you are making this up.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 2, 2012 at 10:44 am |

      ‘what you’ve just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.’

      • Jesus Borg | Sep 2, 2012 at 3:14 pm |

        I’m assuming you will be out there in the Amazon Rainforest telling the Brazilian Miner’s what’s what right?

    • “I mean what do you do with these people?” How about leaving them the fuck alone, you waste of flesh?

      • Jesus Borg | Sep 2, 2012 at 2:35 pm |

        I don’t live in the Amazon rainforest. I am not a Brazillian miner.

  7. Give them guns or cameras to protect themselves. In a lawless part of the world like the amazon one needs to be able to physically protect themselves, sending security personal to such a remote area is not fair to the security personal.

  8. TennesseeCyberian | Sep 5, 2012 at 1:42 pm |

    You should take Anthropology 101.

  9. Monkey See Monkey Do | Sep 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm |

    He is. He’s trolling against a disenfranchised and oppressed people. Must make him feel heroic.

    • TennesseeCyberian | Sep 5, 2012 at 4:25 pm |

      You are sugar-coating the facts, but I don’t blame you.  They’re ugly.

      To my knowledge (give me a page number if I’m wrong,) Ferguson does not deny the numerous documented instances of publicly acceptable gang rape and wife-abuse among the tribes in Yanomami Warfare–he insists that these behaviors are the product of Western influence rather than emanating from within the Yanomami culture itself.

      I don’t mean to single these guys out.  Rape and wife-beating are common among many indigenous people of all races.  That behavior was common among the barbaric Europeans, continuing to some extent into WWII and Vietman, and there is ample evidence that it continues today.

      The Yanomami are no better in that regard.  Do you think they live in some DMT dreamland?

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