Amazon Tribe Obliterated by Illegal Gold Miners

Garimpeiros are said to be behind the attack on the Yanomami
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 30, 2012 10:23 AM CDT
A Brazilian Indian of the Amazonian Yanomami tribe; this is not one of the Venezuelan Yanomami Indians reported killed.   (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

(Newser) – An Amazon village has been all but obliterated in Venezuela, according to reports leaking out of the remote region. The Guardian reports on the claims, which are tied to a July incident and point a finger at Brazilian garimpeiro miners who enter the country to illegally hunt for gold. Locals say a helicopter operated by the miners flew over a village that was home to as many as 80 Yanomami Indians, pelting it with explosives and gunfire. Only three are reported to have survived, apparently because they were out hunting during the time of the attack.

They reported seeing a communal hut ravaged by fire; a Yanomami who says he walked for six days to reach the closest town reported finding bones and burnt bodies. An indigenous rights lawyer explains that more garimpeiros are streaming into the country with their extracting machinery, pushed out by police in their homeland and wooed by high gold prices. As a result, reports of attacks are ramping up in frequency, and "we also hear of rivers being poisoned with mercury. We've reported to the authorities but we are so far away that is it all easily forgotten." In this case, the government has reportedly dispatched investigators. (Read more Brazil stories.)

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