5.27.2021
Brazil: Munduruku People and Their Territories Need Immediate Protection from Illegal Miners

Wildcat gold miners invaded and attacked a Munduruku village in the Amazon on Wednesday, taking aim at leaders, including Maria Leusa Kaba, who have long opposed illegal mining on their protected Indigenous lands.

As predicted, on May 26, 2021, in an alleged retaliation of a major operation against illegal mining coordinated by the federal police, armed miners attacked a Munduruku village. The miners first attempted to burn equipment of National Guard and Federal Police, then proceeded to fire shots and attack the home of Indigenous leaders, including Maria Leusa Kaba, the coordinator of the Wakoborun Women’s Association, whose house was set on fire with gasoline and burned down during this episode.

These more recent attacks are just one of many acts of violence and intimidation from the miners that the Munduruku people have increasingly been facing in Brazil. 

The Munduruku people have called on the state to provide reinforcements but have yet to receive the help they so desperately need to defend themselves and their lands from the violence and environmental damage that the invaders are causing in the Tapajos River basin. 

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights stands with the Munduruku people, including RFK Human Rights Award laureate Alessandra Korap Munduruku, and urges the international community to sound the alarm before it’s too late. In particular, we call on the U.S. to push Jair Bolsonaro’s government to expel illegal miners from Munduruku territory, once and for all, recognizing that this recent crisis is just one of many long-standing abuses posed by the intruders.

Just last December, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued precautionary measures on behalf of the Munduruku, warning that illegal miners unduly expose isolated Indigenous communities to Covid-19, which has already contributed to hundreds of deaths across the Amazon.

Even though mining on demarcated Indigenous lands is prohibited under Brazil’s Constitution, that hasn’t stopped local miners from encroaching on Munduruku and other Indigenous territories for years. It’s time to take action and protect the Munduruku from such persistent and dangerous threats to their sovereignty and well being.