Power Fux meets MPF and bans mining on indigenous lands in Rondônia

Bruno Pacheco – Cenarium Magazine

MANAUS – The president of the Federal Supreme Court (STF), Minister Luiz Fux, restored on Friday, 12, the decision of the Federal Regional Court of the 1st Region (TRF-1) which prevented the granting of permits for mining of mineral resources in the Indigenous Lands (TI) Roosevelt, Aripuanã, Parque Aripuanã and Serra Morena, of the Cinta Larga people in Rondônia. The injunction had previously been suspended by the TRF, and now the decision is in response to an appeal filed by the Attorney General’s Office (PGR).

Understanding the issue

In 2005, the MPF filed a public civil action against the National Department of Mineral Production (DNPM), now the National Mining Agency (ANM), to prevent research and mining permits in the region. The action was judged partially well-founded and the MPF’s appeal was upheld by the Fifth Panel of the Regional Court of the 1st Region. The DNPM, however, appealed and the vice-presidency of the TRF of the 1st Region granted suspensive effect to the measure, which allows mining activity in the vicinity of the Cinta Larga Indigenous Territories and has generated “risk to the protection of the indigenous and environmental rights involved, as well as local security.

For Augusto Aras, the mining activity has generated “risk to the protection of indigenous and environmental rights. (Reproduction)

In the request for an Injunction, Attorney General Augusto Aras points out that the advance of mining “causes the intensification of conflicts between indigenous and non-indigenous people in the region and threatens the environment and the way of life of the local population, causing a serious risk of injury to public order and public safety. The original public civil action also states that the activity has contributed “effectively to corruption, money laundering and trafficking of precious stones”.

Augusto Aras talks about the consequences of mining activity on the indigenous lands of the Cinta Larga people. (Reproduction)

Also according to the report of the prosecutor Augusto Aras, the heightened tensions in the area would be demonstrated in the arrests of those accused of belonging to a criminal organization related to the extraction and illegal marketing of extracted stones, carried out as part of the Federal Police (PF) operation.

In accepting the arguments of the MPF, Minister Luiz Fux considers a “risk of injury to public interest, caused by the multiplicity of authorizations and permits for mining of mineral resources in the area”, as recognized by the TRF-1 judges in the suspended judgment, demonstrated by the documentation attached by the Federal Public Ministry.

Illegal trade

In August and September 2020, the Federal Police launched two operations to combat illegal logging and the sale of illegally extracted diamonds on indigenous lands occupied by the Cinta Larga ethnic group. The two operations, called “Operation Pertinácia II” and “Operation Crassa” took place in the Roosevelt reserve, on the border between Rondônia and Mato Grosso.

The Federal Police launched Operation Crassa against illegal diamond exploration in the Cinta Larga Indigenous Land and the Roosevelt Reserve in Rondônia (Promotion/Federal Police)

Approved in 1991, the region is the target of greedy miners and loggers. The indigenous land, also occupied by groups of the Suruí and Apurinã ethnic groups, covers 2.7 million hectares and is considered to be one of the world’s largest potential diamond reserves.

Mining area in the Roosevelt Indigenous Land, occupied by indigenous Cinta Larga people, on the border between Rondônia and Mato Grosso. (Promotion/Federal Police)

Violence against indigenous peoples, the presence of miners and loggers in the interior of the Roosevelt Indigenous Land and the enticement of indigenous people have been denounced for at least a decade in the current report of the Indigenist Missionary Council (Cimi).

In 2020, the entity’s survey highlights that, despite the “serious health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, contrary to what might be expected, it did not prevent grileiros, gold miners, loggers and other invaders from intensifying their attacks on indigenous lands”.

According to the report, the second year of Jair Bolsonaro’s government represented, for indigenous peoples, the continuation and deepening of an extremely worrying scenario in relation to their rights, territories and lives.

“The Report identified that, in 2020, cases of ‘possessory invasions, illegal exploitation of resources and damage to property’ increased, in relation to the already alarming number that had been registered in the first year of the Bolsonaro government. There were 263 cases of the type recorded in 2020 – an increase over 2019, when 256 cases were recorded, and a 141% increase over 2018, when 109 cases had been identified. This was the fifth consecutive increase recorded in cases of the type, which in 2020 affected at least 201 indigenous lands, from 145 peoples, in 19 states”, warns an excerpt from the report.

Devastation caused by mining in the Munduruku TI, in a register made in May 2020. (Marcos Amend/Greenpeace)

Check out Luiz Fux’s decision in full:

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Check out the full report on Violence Against Indigenous Peoples in Brazil, with data from 2020:

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