MPF suspects that Heleno's actions seek to prepare land for mining on indigenous land

Members of the MPF (Federal Public Ministry) suspect that the authorizations by the minister of the GSI (Institutional Security Office), General Augusto Heleno, to search for gold in one of the most preserved areas of the Amazon, seek to prepare the ground for mining in indigenous lands, proposal defended by President Jair Bolsonaro.

Suspicion of prosecutors working in the Amazon region, heard by Folha under the condition of This anonymity is due to the fact that Heleno has allowed the mining to advance in a place where there is predominantly indigenous land and also because of the characteristic of the projects, which involve research, provided for in the bill sent by Bolsonaro to Congress in 2020.

The Folha revealed on Sunday (5) that the GSI minister authorized seven gold mining projects in the region of São Gabriel da Cachoeira, in the extreme northwest of the Amazon, on the border with Colombia and Venezuela. The region, known as Cabeça do Cachorro, is one of the most preserved in the Amazon and one of the last frontiers of full conservation of the biome.

It is the first time, at least in the last ten years, that this release of prospecting research takes place for Cabeça do Cachorro. For the entire Amazon, Heleno has authorized 000 mining projects since the beginning of the Bolsonaro government.

The GSI minister is secretary- executive of the National Defense Council, a collegiate body that advises the President of the Republic on matters of defense and sovereignty. It is the secretary who grants the so-called prior assents, with endorsement to projects in the border strip, in a width of up to 000 kilometers.

A The publication of the article provoked a reaction from indigenous representatives in the region, as well as environmental organizations and congressmen, who joined with representations in the PGR (Attorney General’s Office), in the MPF, in Justice, in the STF (Supreme Federal Court) and in Congress itself to try to stop the acts of General Heleno.

The MPF in Amazonas has instituted an investigation procedure to investigate and inspect the authorizations given by the GSI minister, given the socio-environmental risk of the measures.

In the view of MPF members, research permits may indicate larger projects, which depend on prospecting, unlike the so-called garimpeira mining permits, which already guarantee prospecting in smaller areas. This is a type of mining that has become common in southern Amazonas and Pará.

The Executive’s bill sent to Congress is aimed at researching and mining minerals in indigenous lands, and allows mining permits “exclusively in mining areas previously defined by the ANM (National Mining Agency)”. The initiative is at a standstill in Parliament.

The proposal foresees that the National Defense Council must be heard when the indigenous land is in a border strip. Heleno is the executive secretary of the board.

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The Federal Constitution prohibits mining on indigenous lands, unless that there is authorization from the National Congress and consultation with the Indians, which, until today, has never occurred.

Bolsonaro is a defender of this exploitation of resources. The bill sent to Congress seeks to regulate the articles of the Constitution that deal with the issue, with “compensation for indigenous communities affected by the restriction of usufruct over indigenous land”.

The MPF intends to investigate whether there may be an attempt to circumvent the legislation, with the approval of gold research projects in the Cabeça do Cachorro region and mining permits, which are simpler and more straightforward procedures, in other regions of the Amazon.

According to the FOIRN (Federation of Indigenous Organizations of Rio Negro), one of the most important indigenous representation entities in the country, there are ten indigenous lands demarcated in the region.

Of the seven authorized projects by Heleno, six are in “Union territories”. At least two are in areas located between indigenous lands.

“We, who have inhabited this region for more than 3. years , in ten demarcated indigenous lands, we express our indignation at the position of General Heleno, who demonstrates that he is exerting political pressure in favor of the business interests of mining and garimpo,” stated FOIRN, in a statement released after the publication of the report.

The federation analyzes the release of gold research in the region and says that “it will take all appropriate and legal steps to not allow the most preserved region in the Amazon to be threatened by the predatory policy of the current government”.

Helen defended his actions, the day after the publication of the report by Folha.

According to the minister, “It is legal to authorize the exploration/mining of minerals, along the border, including the Amazon”. “Respecting the legislation and the environment, we will continue to map our wealth for the good of Brazil and our people”, he said on Monday (6), in a publication on a social network.

companies with areas embargoed by Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment of Renewable Natural Resources) benefited, including a company authorized to search for gold in Cabeça do Cachorro. There was also an endorsement from a prospector who works with suction dredgers in riverbeds in the Amazon.

When contacted, the GSI did not comment on specific cases.

In a note, the Ministry linked to the Presidency, he stated that there are acts of assent throughout the Amazon region, aimed at researching or exploring “several minerals considered strategic for Brazil in recent decades”. The processes are instructed by the ANM, according to the GSI.

“The granting of prior consent for research or mining of gold in the Amazon region follows the same procedural rites as any other mineral, regardless of the region of the strip of the border where it is located, under penalty of causing damage to the Union, states and municipalities if there was any kind of favoring from one region to another”, says the note.

Passing through the Defense Council maintains control and monitoring of activities in sensitive areas and provides important information for decision-making by the president, according to the GSI. “There was no evidence of legal impediment to the request of interested parties for the executive secretary to sign the acts of consent.”

The ANM stated that mining requirements can only apply to free and unencumbered areas.

“The ANM will not approve the application for any mining title if it concerns an encumbered area or in an area with any other legal blockage, such as indigenous lands or full protection conservation units. The electronic application system not accepted,” he said in a statement.

Extraction of ores without authorization from the ANM or in areas with legal blockades is being investigated by the Federal Police, according to the agency.

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