Protect Isolated Indigenous Peoples from Criminal Gold Miners

Target: Ricardo Salles, Minister of the Environment, Brazil

Goal: Restore environmental agencies to crack down on illegal gold mines which harm Indigenous peoples.

The Yanomami are one of the world’s largest indigenous tribes still living in relative isolation. But small-scale gold miners invading their lands illegally are destroying their homes and damaging the environment. These miners have increased in number to 20,000 since 2018, cutting trees, killing wildlife, and using mercury to separate gold from dirt, which then enters local waters. This mercury, among other chemicals, has caused widespread poisoning among the Yanomami, 92 percent of whom suffer from mercury poisoning after ingesting fish near mining sites.

President Jair Bolsonaro has made numerous pledges to crack down on illegal mining and logging in the Amazon, but by stripping state monitors and enforcement agencies of funding and firing their most effective agents, he has given a free pass to criminal operators to raid the territory of the Yanomami without fear.

The 30,000 Yanomami in northern Brazil deserve protection from these criminals, as do the countless rare species of animals and plants in their region. Demand that Brazil’s government restore environmental and forestry law enforcement agencies in order to protect indigenous Brazilians.


Dear Mr. Salles,

Tens of thousands of Yanomami are under invasion from greedy miners who have seized the opportunity to strip their land of gold. Under your government, Brazilian law enforcement groups charged with safeguarding the Amazon have been defunded and rendered powerless to do their work, leaving the Yanomami without the protection they deserve.

I demand that you restore funding to your department’s field agents and re-empower them to fulfill the important job they do.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Cmacauley

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