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Latino Daily News

Wednesday September 28, 2011

Greed in the Amazon: Death Toll Rises as Diggers Fight For Amazon Gold

Greed in the Amazon: Death Toll Rises as Diggers Fight For Amazon Gold

Photo: Death Toll Rises as Diggers Fight For Amazon Gold

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In 1993, more than 2,000 Yanomami Indians were killed by garimpeiros (independent gold diggers) who entered the Yanomami’s land in the Amazon rainforest along the Brazilian and Venezuelan border during the new gold rush. Today, just like the Yanomami before them, people are dying in the name of gold and greed.

The global economic crisis has caused the price of gold and minerals to skyrocket, and in turn has caught the attention of the money hungry, some of whom have gone so far as to kill anyone they believe stands in their way.

Though the scramble for South America’s undiscovered gold in the Amazon is nothing new, the down turn of the economy has brought out those willing to do anything for it, even murder teens like Elton Thompson, who was bludgeoned to death by a miner.

“There is a direct correlation between the price of gold and what we have to deal with these days,” said Guyanan police commander David Ramnarine to the Demerara Waves news website after a string of gold-related killings in his country, which sits along the northern coast of South America.

The Guardian is reporting that the mineral-rich rainforests of Brazil, Guyana, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, and Venezuela have seen increases in violence, disease, and overall conflict since both the U.S. and European economies have taken a hit.

As of August 24, 26 murders and numerous armed robberies have occurred in the jungles of South America.

Health coordinator for the Yanomami’s Hutukara association, Dário Vitório Kopenawa Yanomami, said he is worried his people are suffering and that as many as 2,000 illegal miners are operating on the Yanomami reserve.

“The miners are hiring planes to come into the reserve. Their entry is constant. It is dangerous to go where they are. They are all armed.

“If we go near them they will kill us. We are getting information that the invaders are getting close to our lands. The Yanomami are asking for support.”

It is said that the region’ gold prices have risen 40 percent since last year.