Indigenous lands: make Brazil stop mining to secure US deal

Just before the global leaders’ climate summit in April, Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro promised the United States that he would reduce deforestation in the Amazon, hoping to secure a billion-dollar aid package. In my view, any such cash-for-conservation deal should be contingent on Bolsonaro withdrawing his February bid to legalize mining on Indigenous lands.

Bolsonaro has met with pro-mining Indigenous leaders in a crusade for economic development, despite evidence that mining in Brazil does not bring lasting improvements to socio-economic indicators (see go.nature.com/2s6zknt; in Portuguese). Granting current requests for mining concessions would affect 30% of Brazil’s Indigenous lands.

Heavily armed illegal gold miners are invading federally protected Indigenous lands with impunity, knowing that the president has their back. In a shoot-out last month with Yanomami Indigenous people in the state of Roraima, miners fired at community members and Federal Police agents.

Given Brazil’s current economic devastation, the administration of US President Joe Biden is in a strong position to seek major concessions to secure the aid deal. High on that list should be stopping illegal incursions and reversing plans to legalize mining on Indigenous lands.

Nature 594, 177 (2021)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-021-01522-w

Competing Interests

The author declares no competing interests.


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