Garimpeiros uses social networks to promote the game

As the Yanomami problem unfolds, the miners document their daily work, criticize the government’s work and even show how they avoid supervision in their relationships. On TikTok, videos like a backhoe being buried to escape from government projects reach thousands of views.

The document also shows the violation of the Uraricoera River, a controversial area with devastating effects on indigenous peoples. Experts believe that the advancement of the Internet in the mining sector in recent years has changed the work, making it important to exchange information and even sell illegal products, such as like mercury.

André Luiz Porreca Ferreira Cunha, a public prosecutor in Amazonas says “Every mining site today has an internet antenna, which has made communication easier,” “But if that the signal is blocked, it can harm legitimate users, including, for example, the medical team working in the area”, points out the member of the Public Government Ministry (MPF).

According to Bruno Manzolli, a researcher at the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) who oversees the topic, the use of the internet in mining sites to communicate is one of the tools alert to the crime and the suppression of the attack. the government makes the opposition play. “In terms of technology, it represents an improvement in the use of radio”, he said.

“Combination with communication and messaging can allow communication in real time, with a more convenient location and sharing of different types of information, such as photos, videos , information and space”, said the expert.

Violation of advertising on TikTok

On TikTok, the user costabreno2, who describes himself as a “heavy mining worker”, shows in a video from January 14th a backhoe being buried to the Brazilian Institute of the Environment and New Construction (Ibama) “doesn’t burn”. The post has generated more than 100 thousand views. In it, in the background, someone said: “the life of the operator is not easy”. In a video from the end of 2023, the user presents a machine that was burned by Ibama, but still works.

On the same social network, a series of profiles show mining in the Uraricoera River, with the transportation of heavy goods. The site is one of the most important government projects against illegal mining, as well as being the land where some of the worst disasters for the Yanomami have been recorded.

“We are investigating the matter, and there may be a criminal offense in this case. We are looking for ways to investigate further in the discussion, but there is no way in order to create tools before attacking the content”, said the lawyer.

TikTok’s guidelines include a ban on reporting crimes, and the platform says it will remove content that provides information about crimes that cause harm.

The so-called mining dredgers can cost between R$ 1 and 8 million reais, and are one of the main targets of the inspection, which aims to cause damage to the work. In addition to this, there are other products, such as backhoes, aircraft and machines for the machines themselves, which are focused in action. In 2023 alone, the destruction of equipment used by government agents caused more than R$ 1 billion in losses for the economy in Brazil.

For Manzolli, communication about reviews is often related to work bias. “When a probe is found first, this gives the underground workers the opportunity to break into the ground and protect, in addition to the gold that has already been extracted, equipment and products necessary for the work,” he said.

“Garimpeiro is a worker”

An important social responsibility for miners is the protection of jobs, which despite the traditional saying: “miners are workers, not criminals “. The video criticizes the actions of the authorities, such as when the dredgers and backhoes are burned, strongly appeal to the platforms. Often, the voices in the background talk about the problems of these activities, and encourage people to stay in mining. Many still describe the “day of mourning” after the act.

In turn, Ferreira Cunha refutes the argument, and shows that the high price of the products themselves is a demonstration that the extraction takes in large proportions, as well as destruction damage occurred. “There are killings. There are no more innocent people, the work has become professional,” he said.

Manzolli sustains many losses from work, especially in areas such as the Yanomami region. He said, “It is not easy to see how illegal crimes can affect the lives of indigenous people, who build a relationship with the environment, and respect natural resources. build,” he said.

“During the opening of the hole, the vegetation is removed, resulting in the loss of biodiversity”, he said, remembering that during the work, the water is also often affected, through deliberate changes exchange of water. , or from siltation caused in the disposal of waste. “Illegal violations with the environment directly affect the survival and prosperity of the indigenous people”, points out the expert.

Difficulty in maintenance

Last week, the MPF agreed that Mercado Livre does not include advertising for the illegal sale of mercury on the platform, and began to take action to combat the trade in medicine. According to Ferreira Cunha, the problem came to the monitoring agency, which quickly identified the sales on the website, many using the word “azougue liquid”.

The lawyer said that Brazil does not produce much mercury, and that the main part of the product sold in the country is illegal, entering from Bolivia and Peru, and from Eastern Europe.

Manzolli explained that, during the exploration of gold, mercury was constantly used, which when disposed of without care, contaminated the ground and the surrounding water even miles away from the pit. A study conducted in 2019 by the Sérgio Arouca National School of Public Health (Ensp/Fiocruz) found mercury in 56% of Yanomami women and children in the Maturacá region, located into Amazonas.

In turn, given the large volume of material on the internet on the topic, Ferreira Cunha admits: “we are few, and we must choose what is important”. In his opinion, there are no workers to fight mining, even if the situation improves in 2023, when there is more effort. “It’s improved, but it’s still not enough,” he concluded.

The lawyer also pointed out that the penalty for the crime related to the crime is not high, and in many cases, the procedure will end in the statute of limitations. According to him, at the end of the chain, most of the gold ends up in luxury stores in Europe and the United States, which is the place for around 85% of the metal extracted.


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