Heleno authorized the advance of prospecting in a river that divides untouched indigenous lands

Five of the seven gold exploration fronts in one of the most preserved areas in the Amazon, authorized by General Augusto Heleno, are within a stretch of the Rio Negro that cuts through two indigenous lands, where live 11 ethnic groups.

The areas released are on islands or in the waters themselves of the river, bordered side by side by demarcated territories.

At the request of Folha , the Ipam (Amazon Environmental Research Institute) analyzed the geographic coordinates of the projects authorized by Heleno, minister of the GSI (Institutional Security Office) of the Presidency and executive secretary of the National Defense Council.

The analyzed data are public and are part of the processes at the ANM (National Mining Agency).

The maps produced by Ipam reveal that the Minister of GSI allowed the advance of gold mining in a stretch of river that bathes two practically untouched indigenous lands: Médio Rio Negro 1 and Middle Rio Negro 2.

In both spaces live 3.150 indigenous people, according to the base of data updated by ISA (Instituto Socioambiental). They are from the Arapaso, Baniwa, Baré, Dâw, Desana, Koripako, mirity-tapuya, pira-tapuya, tariana, tukano and yuhupde ethnic groups.

The Constitution prohibits mining in indigenous land. This type of exploration is only possible if there is authorization by Congress, which did not happen.

The Jair Bolsonaro (PL) government wants to release mining in these lands. For this, it sent in 2019 a bill to Congress that regulates the authorization to be given. The proposal is stalled at the Chamber.

The MPF (Federal Public Ministry) suspects that Heleno’s actions seek to prepare the ground for the release of mining on indigenous lands.

To enable the advancement of gold mining in an almost untouched region, the GSI assumed that river areas are not formally part of the demarcated lands.

“In the regions under discussion, the Funai databases were consulted , MMA [Ministério do Meio Ambiente] and ANM [Agência Nacional de Mineração], which do not point to the Rio Negro, as well as the islands in it, as indigenous lands or conservation units,” stated the GSI, in a statement.

“There was no GSI approval for the advance of prospecting in indigenous lands. The Constitution is faithfully enforced by the GSI,” said the President’s body.

Funai did not respond to the article’s questions about the relationship between the stretch of the Negro River and the Médio Rio Negro 1 and Middle Rio Negro 2.

In addition to the five river fronts that divide the two territories, the largest area released by the GSI —from 9.676 hectares—advances through another territory of the Union, despite the fact that the responsible enterprise has informed that the gold exploration would occur in “third party property”. The maps of Ipam show a rural property, but the extension of the area includes a preserved area of ​​the Union.

Technicians from the institute, a non-governmental research organization scientific, found that there is a CAR (Rural Environmental Registry) record for the area, attached to the Pico da Neblina National Park. This would mean an attempt to appropriate an area that is public, which is irregular.

“The mining process and it is currently in regular phase, according to the analysis made in the file received from the ANM. The GSI used the MMA database, which did not indicate any overlap with the Pico da Neblina National Park,” stated the ministry commanded by General Heleno.

The maps produced by Ipam do not inform the exact location of the seventh area authorized by the GSI minister.

Report published by Folha on the 5th of this month, he revealed the authorizations given by Heleno for the advancement of gold mining in the extreme northwest of the Amazon, one of the most preserved places in the Amazon. It is the first time that this has happened in at least ten years .

In the region, known as Cabeça do Cachorro, is São Gabriel da Cachoeira (AM), the most indigenous city in Brazil. ethnic groups live in this part of the Amazon biome.

It is up to the GSI minister, as a representative of the National Defense Council, say yes or no to mining ventures on the border, in a width of up to 150 kilometers.

Since the publication of the article by Folha , parties and congressmen submitted requests to the STF (Supreme Federal Court), PGR (Attorney General’s Office), MPF and Congress to overturn the acts of Heleno.

The MPF started to investigate the authorizations. Several indigenous organizations and associations, including those from the Negro River, refuted the acts.

The office of Deputy Elias Vaz (PSB-GO) mapped the areas with similar conclusions the analysis of Ipam and found that the ANM denied authorizations to search for gold in neighboring areas on the Rio Negro, with the argument that this type of exploration in indigenous land is prohibited.

Vaz was the author of the request to summon Heleno to give explanations to the Financial Inspection and Control Commission of the Chamber. Congressmen approved an invitation to the minister.

Deputy and Senator Jorge Kajuru (Podemos-GO) will file a writ of mandamus with the Supreme Court to try to overturn the authorizations given by the head of the GSI.

Rede Sustentabilidade and Partido Verde have already joined the STF with actions against Heleno’s actions.

The seven authorizations for the region of São Gabriel da Cachoeira involve an area of ​​12, 7,000 hectares. One of them, in addition to gold, allows research for niobium and tantalum. This development is what is pasted in Pico da Neblina Park.

For the entire Amazon, since the beginning of 676, have already been granted 81 authorizations to explore minerals, including research and mining. Only in 2020 they were 81, according to the acts of prior consent published in the Official Gazette of the Union until the last day 2.

It is the largest amount in nine years, which should increase due to the possibility of new acts by the end of the year.

The GSI minister released gold research for businessmen in areas embargoed by Ibama (Brazilian Institute for the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources). And also for a member of a miners cooperative who work with suction dredgers in riverbeds in the Amazon.

The predominant technique in projects released in Cabeça do Cachorro is that of suction dredgers, according to the proposals attached to processes at the ANM. The ANM forwards these processes to the National Defense Council when the projects are in a border area.

“The Congress defines and authorizes activities in indigenous lands. Definition of The limit is an attribution of Funai. The ANM guides the development of its institutional activities in accordance with the Brazilian legal system,” said the agency, in a statement. wanted to explore areas adjacent to those authorized by the GSI, the ANM said that “there are a number of requirements to be met” and that “probably the cooperative did not meet the legally established requirements”.

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