Murder of Two Yanomami by Illegal Miners Heightens Fears of Renewed Cycle of Violence in the Brazilian Amazon

Yanomami People

Murder of Two Yanomami by Illegal Miners Heightens Fears of Renewed Cycle of Violence in the Brazilian Amazon

Yanomami People
Photo by Victor Morayama/ISA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 30, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS
Maryka Paquette: gro.y1721247291nffr@1721247291etteu1721247291qapm1721247291 or +1 (619) 517-4126
Camila Rossi: gro.h1721247291ctawn1721247291ozama1721247291@isso1721247291rc1721247291 or +55 11 98152 8476
Instituto Socioambiental (ISA): gro.l1721247291atnei1721247291bmaoi1721247291cos@a1721247291rreta1721247291niram1721247291
Survival International: gro.l1721247291anoit1721247291anret1721247291nilav1721247291ivrus1721247291@sser1721247291p1721247291 or +44 (0) 7841 029 289

The Indigenous Hutukara Yanomami Association demands a rigorous investigation of the murders and reinforces the need for the Brazilian government to immediately expel more than 20,000 miners illegally operating on Yanomami land.

Roraima, Brazil – In a statement denouncing the murder of two Yanomami people by armed illegal gold miners on protected Indigenous territory, the Hutukara Yanomami Association raised fears that land invaders are driving a disastrous cycle that echos past genocidal violence.

According to an anonymous Yanomami witness during the first half of June, in the vicinity of Xaruna community in the Brazilian state of Roraima, a group of Yanomami visited an illegal mining camp to request food. Having received less food than requested, the witness claims they complained to the miners, who then pursued the group with firearms and murdered two of them.

“The murder of two more Yanomami by miners must be rigorously investigated and reinforces the need for the Brazilian State to act urgently and immediately remove all the miners who are illegally exploiting the Yanomami Territory and harassing and assaulting the indigenous communities who live there. We call on the authorities to take all necessary measures to stop the mining which continues taking Yanomami lives,” says the Hutukara statement. “We fear that the families of the murdered Yanomami will decide to retaliate against the miners, following the Yanomami culture’s system of justice, which could lead to a cycle of violence that will result in a tragedy.”

For decades, the Yanomami have resisted the invasion of illegal miners on their lands, but conflicts between communities and illegal gold miners remain frequent. It is estimated that more than 20,000 illegal miners currently operate within Yanomami Indigenous Territory.

Under the Bolsonaro government’s ongoing encouragement of Indigenous land invasions, the number of miners in the region has dramatically increased and native communities fear for their safety. This month’s murders are not an isolated problem and are likely to recur in other areas affected by illegal mining on Yanomami lands.

The Hutukara statement notes that a similar situation resulted in the Haximu massacre in 1993, when 16 Yanomami from the community of Haximu were murdered by miners, in the first case of genocide recognized by the Brazilian state. Twenty-seven years after the massacre, the Yanomami once again face widespread invasions of their lands.

The Yanomami witness account describes a cyclical, fraught relationship between the Yanomami and miners ever since the Indigenous territory suffered invasions of more than 40,000 wildcat miners in the 1980s. At first, miners arrive in small numbers in a community’s territory and seek friendly relations with the Yanomami, offering food and goods from the city. As the number of miners increases and their settlement becomes permanent, they feel at ease in the territory and come to regard the Yanomami as a nuisance. The Yanomami’s requests for merchandise from the city are ignored and relations become tense.

With the advance of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Yanomami and Ye’kwana Leadership Forum launched the #MinersOutCovidOut campaign, which has already collected 300,000 signatures for the immediate withdrawal of illegal miners from the Yanomami Territory. On June 16, Hutukara and the National Human Rights Council filed a request for precautionary measures with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The measure is intended to ensure that the Brazilian government takes concrete measures to protect the Yanomami.

The campaign is supported by the Association of Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples (APIB), the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), Survival International, Greenpeace Brazil, Conectas Human Rights, Amnesty International Brazil, Amazon Cooperation Network (RCA), Igarapé Institute, Rainforest Foundation US, Rainforest Foundation Norway, and Amazon Watch.

Rainforest Foundation US was founded 30 years ago to promote the rights of indigenous peoples living in the rainforest and to support them and other forest communities in their effort to protect and defend their territories.

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SOS Rainforest Livestream to Protect Indigenous Peoples and the Planet

SOS Rainforest Livestream to Protect Indigenous Peoples and the Planet

Musicians, indigenous peoples, activists, and celebrities come together to raise awareness and funds for indigenous communities facing twin existential threats from Covid-19 and stepped up tropical rainforest destruction.

On June 21, major international artists will join in solidarity with indigenous peoples for an international livestream to raise awareness and support for indigenous forest guardians who are under extreme threat from the coronavirus. Top recording artists from around the world will be joined by indigenous leaders and environmental activists to draw attention and much needed funds to support the fight of indigenous communities against the twin existential threats they face: Covid-19 and tropical rainforest destruction.

The star-studded event includes performers such as UK rock star Sting (founder of Rainforest Foundation), Manú Chao, Alan Parson, Caribbean sensation OMI, and many other musicians from Latin America like Maná, Aterciopelados, Carlos Vivés, Caetano Velos, and Gilberto Gil. Actress Oona Chaplin, and model and activist Gisele Bündchen, will also be present. For a full list, please visit SOS Rainforest Live! The event will livestream on YouTube and TikTok.

In addition to broadcasting the livestream, TikTok, the platform for short mobile videos, will also host a dance challenge through which they hope to raise and donate up to $300,000 to the SOS Rainforest Live! event. The TikTok-hosted campaign will use the hashtag #sosrainforestchallenge across Latin America. See the TikTok dance.

Why it’s important to protect indigenous peoples and tropical rainforests
Rainforest destruction is a key driver of global emissions, biodiversity loss, and is increasingly linked to disease outbreaks, which is why protecting these forests is more critical than ever. Last summer, raging fires in the Amazon caught the attention of the world. This summer’s, fire season is expected to be worse, which is why  supporting indigenous communities must be an international priority.

Indigenous peoples are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus due to lower immunity to diseases and lack of access to adequate health care. But while the world is looking elsewhere, many threatened tropical rainforests are witnessing a surge of destruction and land invasions from illegal miners and loggers – further exposing local communities to the virus and exacerbating the climate crisis.

SOS Rainforest LIVE is organized by the Rainforest Foundation of Norway, UK and the US.

Tune in Sunday, June 21st at 3PM ET on YouTube and TikTok.

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Cinema on the River: A Floating Film Festival in the Heart of the Peruvian Amazon

The Muyuna Floating Film Festival showcased a unique floating screen, bringing films directly to riverside communities in the Peruvian Amazon. During the festival, Rainforest Foundation US supported an Indigenous Cinema Workshop, emphasizing the urgent need to understand these issues from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Webinars

Right to the Land: Indigenous Land Title as a Climate Strategy

Here’s an insight at the heart of RFUS’s work: Lands legally controlled by Indigenous peoples and local communities show lower rates of deforestation—up to a 66% reduction in forest cover loss. Listen to Cameron Ellis and Kim Chaix of Rainforest Foundation US speak about the power of land titling.

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Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Miners Out, COVID-19 Out: The Yanomami and Ye’Kwana People of the Brazilian Amazon Launch a Global Campaign to Expel Miners From Their Territory

Miners Out, COVID-19 Out: The Yanomami and Ye’Kwana People of the Brazilian Amazon Launch a Global Campaign to Expel Miners From Their Territory

Miners Out Petition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 11, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS
Maryka Paquette: gro.y1721247291nffr@1721247291etteu1721247291qapm1721247291 or +1.619.517.4126
Camila Rossi: gro.h1721247291ctawn1721247291ozama1721247291@isso1721247291rc1721247291 or +55.11.98152.8476

Indigenous leaders demand the urgent removal of 20,000 illegal gold miners from their lands to prevent the spread of COVID-19 through their villages. The disease could infect up to 40% of Yanomami communities if wildcat mining remains, threatening a new ethnocide.

Roraima State, Brazil – In a new global campaign led by a coalition of Yanomami and Ye’kwana organizations, indigenous leaders define the #MinersOutCovidOut campaign as “a cry for help against an old nightmare which has turned even more deadly.”  Launching internationally today, the campaign demands that the Brazilian government immediately remove more than 20,000 gold miners currently operating illegally in Yanomami territory.

“We are following the spread of COVID-19 in our land and are very saddened by the first deaths of the Yanomami. Our shamans are working non-stop against the xawara,” said Dario Kopenawa Yanomami, a young leader of his people and vice president of the Hutukara Yanomami Association. “Xawara” is the Yanomami word for epidemics brought by outsiders. “We will fight and resist. But we need support from the Brazilian people and people all over the world,” said Dario, who is the son of Davi Kopenawa, a Yanomami leader and one of the best-known shamans in the Amazon.

The Ye’kwana is a smaller indigenous group that lives alongside the Yanomami land. Together they comprise a total of 27,000 people dispersed across one of Brazil’s largest indigenous reserves that stretches between the Roraima and Amazonas states, straddling Venezuela’s border.

The mortality rate from COVID-19 for indigenous people is double the rate of the rest of the Brazilian population. So far, more than 2,900 indigenous people have tested positive for the novel coronavirus and almost 260 have died according to the Association of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil (APIB). The disease has already killed four Yanomami and there are 95 more confirmed cases among the Yanomami and Ye’kwana.

Roughly half of the Yanomami territory’s population lives in communities less than five kilometers (3 miles) from an illegal mining site. A new study by Brazilian NGO Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) calculates possible transmission rate scenarios for those villages (1). According to their study, in one region of the Yanomami territory, a single case of COVID-19 could result in 962 new cases after 120 days. In the worst-case scenario, 5,603 Yanomami – 40% of the population in those communities – could become infected with the virus. The study also estimates that if the illegal miners remain, between 207 and 896 Yanomami could die as a result of COVID-19 – up to 6.4% of the population in those areas. The Yanomami face a real risk of an ethnocide.

To avert a tragedy, the Forum of Yanomami and Ye’kwana Leaders (2) is asking the Brazilian public and the global community to sign a petition to pressure Brazilian authorities to mobilize efforts for the complete and immediate removal of miners from their territory. Dario, a Yanomami leader, is the principal voice of the campaign and aims to mobilize national and global support for this critical cause.

Unfortunately, the spread of deadly diseases carried by gold miners and other invaders is not a new threat for the Yanomami. In the 1970s and 80s, the opening of roads and a major gold rush caused the death of 13% of the Yanomami population, from diseases like malaria and measles. Many elders still carry the pain of that memory; it is a part of Yanomami history. It is unfathomable that right now, thousands of miners are operating with impunity in the territory potentially exposing an entire people to COVID19, of an already acutely vulnerable population due to systemic racism and lack of access to public health resources.

According to the ISA report, the health centers that serve the Yanomami are among the least equipped in all of Brazil, as they have the lowest availability of beds and ventilators. The health centers closest to the miners invading their territory were scored worst of all (3). There are no pulmonary ventilators in most Amazonian municipalities. The average distance between indigenous villages and the nearest intensive care unit (ICU) in Brazil is 315 kilometers (196 miles), and for 10% of villages, that distance is between 700-1,079 kilometers (430- 670 miles). Yanomami people will have to travel almost three hours by plane to get to Boa Vista if they need an ICU with a ventilator. There are no land or river connections between the village and the capital of Roraima (4).

The campaign is supported by the Association of Indigenous Peoples in Brazil (APIB), Coordination of Indigenous Organizations in the Brazilian Amazon (COIAB), Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), Survival International, Greenpeace Brazil, Conectas Human Rights, Amnesty International Brazil, Amazon Cooperation Network (RCA), Igarapé Institute, Rainforest Foundation US, Rainforest Foundation Norway, and Amazon Watch.

Learn more and participate at MinersOutCovidOut.org

Rainforest Foundation US was founded 30 years ago to promote the rights of indigenous peoples living in the rainforest and to support them and other forest communities in their effort to protect and defend their territories. 

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Notes

(1) The study was carried out by the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA) in partnership with the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), and reviewed by the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation for Public Health (Fiocruz).

(2) The Yanomami and Ye’kwana Leadership Forum is a coalition of organizations including Hutukara Yanomami Association (HAY), Wanasseduume Ye’kwana Association (SEDUUME), Kumirayoma Yanomami Women’s Association (AMYK), Texoli Ninam Association of Roraima (TANER) and the Yanomami Association of the Cauaburis River and Tributaries (AYRCA).

(3) The study looked at a number of critical health units in the territory, estimating how the transmission of the disease in these places could happen. For example, in Surucucu, a representative of the District Council for Indigenous Health (Condisi) who tested positive for Covid-19 visited the area covered by the health unit. In the worst-case scenario, assuming the most intense transmission, this single case in the region could result in 962 new cases after 120 days. If nothing were done, that means that 39% of the population served by the health post would be infected. If the mortality rate is twice as high as in the non-indigenous population, there would be between 35 and 153 deaths, using the rates in Roraima and Amazonas states respectively.

(4) According to a study by the non-profit InfoAmazonia.

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Amazon Emergency Fund Scales Up

The Amazon Emergency Fund (AEF) received a $2 million donation from the French Government to deliver COVID-19 relief to indigenous communities.

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SOS Rainforest Live: Major Artists Unite in Support of Indigenous Guardians of the Rainforests Threatened by the COVID-19 Pandemic

SOS Rainforest Live: Major Artists Unite in Support of Indigenous Guardians of the Rainforests Threatened by the COVID-19 Pandemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 3, 2020

Updated as of June 17, 2020

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Kim Chaix:gro.y1721247291nffr@1721247291xiahc1721247291k 1721247291 or +1.917.378.8670
Other media contacts listed below

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – On June 21st, major international artists will join in solidarity with indigenous peoples for a livestream concert to raise awareness and support for indigenous forest guardians under extreme threat from the coronavirus.

Participating artists include Sting (Rainforest Foundation Founder), Gilberto Gil, Caetano, Veloso, Milton Nascimento, Carlinhos Brown, Aurora, Jorge Drexler, Ana Vitoria, Manu Gavassi, Anitta, Sandy, Maná, Seu Jorge, Manu Chao, Gaby Amarantos, Tony Garrido and Maria Gadú (1). They will be joined by indigenous leaders, activists and celebrities including Actress Oona Chaplin, model and activist Gisele Bündchen, photographer Sebastião Salgado, Expert Climatologist Antonio Nobre, and Actor, Comedian and Writer Stephen Fry (2). For a full list, please visit SOSRainforestLive.org

All net proceeds from the event will go directly towards the COVID-19 relief effort in rainforest areas and on projects and advocacy to support indigenous and local communities in their efforts to protect their environment (3).

The livestream will be broadcast on TikTokYouTube and other platforms in Brazil and around the world: 3:00pm New York City and Manaus, 16h00 São Paulo, 20h00 London and 21h00 Oslo.

In addition to broadcasting the livestream, TikTok, the platform for short cell phone videos, has committed to donate up to $300,000 to the SOS Rainforest LIVE event through livestream viewership and by hosting a dance challenge following an official SOS Rainforest Dance. All dance videos uploaded to the platform between 21-28 June 2020 that include the hashtag #SOSRainforestChallenge will qualify. See more dances on Rainforest Foundation’s TikTok account.

With destruction of tropical rainforests a key driver of global emissions, biodiversity loss and increasingly linked to disease outbreaks, protecting these forests is more critical than ever. Evidence is building that the best way to achieve this is to empower indigenous peoples and other forest guardians to secure, manage and protect the rainforests they call home (4).

But while the world is looking elsewhere, many areas are witnessing a surge of forest destruction and land invasions from illegal miners and loggers – further exposing local communities to COVID-19 and exacerbating the climate crisis.

Suzanne Pelletier, Executive Director of Rainforest Foundation US, said “indigenous peoples are among the most vulnerable to the novel coronavirus due to their greater susceptibility to respiratory and viral diseases and poor access to adequate medical facilities. Yet they are the ones protecting the ecosystems that safeguard the world from the rise of major pandemics in the first place. We must join together to support indigenous peoples now.” 

SOS Rainforest LIVE is being organized by Rainforest Foundation Norway, UK and the US. The event is being produced by Pedro Paulo Carneiro (general director), Analuisa Anjos (executive producer), with Ivan Sawyer (production assistant), Maryus Rydal (production assistant) and Lucas Tomas Neves (transmission coordinator).

Learn more and participate at: SOSRainforestLive.org

Rainforest Foundation was founded 30 years ago to promote the rights of indigenous peoples living in the rainforest and to support them and other forest communities in their effort to protect and defend their territories. Since its founding, the Rainforest Foundations of Norway, the UK and the US have together supported indigenous peoples’ efforts to protect more than 72 million hectares across four continents.

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Notes

(1) SOS Rainforest LIVE will include featured artists such as Sting, one of the founders of the Rainforest Foundation, Gilberto Gil, Caetano Veloso, Milton Nascimento, Carlinhos Brown, Aurora, Jorge Drexler, Ana Vitoria, Manu Gavassi, Anitta, Sandy, Maná, Seu Jorge, Mathilda Holmer, Maria Gadu, Tony Garrido, Aurora, Aterciopelados, Manu Chao, Allan Parsons, Gaby Amarantos, Tropkillas + Duda Beat + Afro B, Lyla June, Lisa Simone, Jupiter and Okwes, Sandrayati, OMI, Dj Soul Slinger and Jorge Mautner, Evandro Mesquita, George Israel, Vanessa Falabella and Zeca Baleiro.

(2) SOS Rainforest LIVE will have the distinguished presence of indigenous peoples’ and other environmental defenders from the world’s major tropical rainforests including : Sonia Guajajara from the Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB) and Dario Kopenawa Yanomami from Hutukara Associação Yamomami from Brazil and Rukka Sombolinggi of the Indonesia’s Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), among others. The event will also feature messages from experts such as renowned climatologist Antonio Nobre and high-profile figures such as photographer Sebastião Salgado and Wagner Moura. The event will be co-hosted by Oona Chaplin of Game of Thrones and Avatar, and Brazilians Letícia Sabatella, Camila Pitanga, Maria Gadu and Toni Garrido.

(3) Indigenous and NGO partners include: The Articulação dos Povos Indígenas do Brasil (APIB), the Hutukara Associação Yanomami, Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), and Conselho Indígena de Roraima (CIR) in Brazil; Indonesia’s Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN); DRC’s APEM and Cameroon’s APIFED; and Peru’s Organización Regional de los Pueblos Indígenas del Oriente (ORPIO).

(4) See for example: https://rightsandresources.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Stockholm-Prorities-and-Opportunities-Brief.pdf

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Rainforest Foundation US’ response to COVID-19

In response to COVID-19, four indigenous leaders prepare bags of food and medical supplies to distribute to communities

Rainforest Foundation Response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 crisis is disproportionately affecting vulnerable populations and indigenous communities are no exception. 

Rainforest Foundation US (RFUS) recognized early on that the needs and responses to the crisis would change over time, which is why we implemented an array of short- and long-term interventions. 

These responses leverage existing relationships, networks and tools, while also seeking new collaboration and investments from a variety of organizations, including governments, foundations, other non-profits, and on-the-ground partners. 

RFUS is both a forest protection and a human rights organization. As such, we take our role in protecting the lives of indigenous peoples just as seriously as our role in supporting them to protect forests. 

This crisis is personal. Our partners are family.

How the COVID-19 Crisis is Affecting Indigenous Peoples

Indigenous communities are especially vulnerable to COVID-19. While there is no evidence to suggest that indigenous peoples’ immune systems are more susceptible to the COVID-19 virus than other populations (as has been the case with many introduced diseases in the past) impoverished community members often suffer from chronic health conditions such as diabetes or kidney disease that can increase the risk of extreme illness and death from the virus. Meanwhile, indigenous peoples’ communal lifestyles, remote locations, and the lack of health care services mean that outbreaks in indigenous communities or often pervasive and difficult to contain. Indigenous elders – key to a community’s social fabric and holders of vast knowledge about rainforest land and life – are especially at risk. Already a number of elder members of indigenous communities in the Amazon have died from coronavirus simply for lack of a five dollar oxygen tank or because they could not make it to a hospital in time.

How Rainforest Foundation US is Tackling the COVID-19 Crisis

From the moment the pandemic hit Latin America, in early 2020, RFUS has been working around the clock to provide communities with four primary types of assistance:

Information and Communication

Indigenous organizations across the Amazon (and elsewhere) immediately recommended that communities go into voluntary self-isolation. 

A lack of appropriate information compelled RFUS to work with partners on the ground to produce posters, radio spots, and videos in indigenous languages and share them with communities to inform them of the seriousness of the pandemic and key prevention measures.

Support provided through November 2020:  US$ 19,027

Humanitarian Support

Many communities are safest if they stay in place, which means that they must minimize exposure to visitors and forgo travel to outbreak areas. Such measures make it difficult for communities to sell goods and access some basic necessities, such as the fuel, cooking oil, and salt that they have come to rely on. In order to support their self-isolation, our partners have initiated campaigns to raise funds and supplies.

Support provided through November 2020:  US$ 77,760

Medical Supplies and Protective Equipment

Indigenous organizations are actively coordinating with  the government to ensure it fulfills its obligation to provide medical supplies and equipment, PPEs, and disinfection kits to all, especially leaders, monitors staffing barriers, and indigenous health workers.  Now that the disease is spreading more widely, these supplies have become all the more important.

Support provided through November 2020: US$ 171,606

Supporting Sustainable Economic Activities

Remote indigenous communities, most of whom live in extreme poverty, are particularly vulnerable to the short- and long-term impacts of the COVID-19. Quarantine measures and the paralysis of global trade and travel have made a bad situation worse. Therefore, RFUS and indigenous organizations are developing strategies and projects that will allow these communities to safely generate income.

Support provided through November 2020:  US$ 11,000

The COVID-19 crisis is a challenge to leaders around the world. This is especially true for indigenous organizations and leaders operating in historically neglected areas that lack basic public services. But the pandemic is also an opportunity to strengthen  local, regional and national indigenous governance systems. This strengthening is very much at the core of our work across tropical Latin America. Indigenous organizations in Peru, Brazil, Guyana and Panama are quickly adapting and stepping up to address the unique demands that the global pandemic has created as it steadily seeps into the most distant corners of the forest.

Leveraging Technology for COVID-19 Relief

Rainforest Foundation US is leveraging its extensive network of tech-enabled indigenous partners, including hundreds of remote field monitors who, under normal circumstances, are working to detect and stop illegal deforestation. These networks and individuals are now adapting their skills and tools to capture critical health information in communities. Indigenous data managers  are now compiling valuable health care information and keeping state agencies abreast of new outbreaks. Meanwhile, indigenous leaders and administrators – accustomed to pursuing criminal cases and working the levers of regional governments to stop illegal deforestation – are using their skills, connections, and political influence to improve government and international responses to COVID-19 and ongoing deforestation threats.

Deforestation During Coronavirus

 Illegal loggers and miners are not staying home and observing social distance, which is why we are also addressing the numerous secondary effects of the virus, such as increased logging, mining and illegal border crossings that threaten indigenous livelihoods every bit as much as the virus itself. 

With inspections and other activities on hold due to the pandemic, illegal actors are exploiting a dramatic drop in official inspections and other activities on hold due to the pandemic. In Brazil, this drop in enforcement has been compounded by a weakening of environmental regulations that predates the pandemic. Meanwhile, illegal deforestation and mining is increasing exponentially during this crisis, posing new levels of public health and environmental threat to indigenous territories.

Partner Initiatives

In addition to coordinating local responses, Rainforest Foundation US, our allies and partners are spearheading several large initiatives to scale coronavirus responses across the region:

  1. Amazon Emergency Fund – A collaboration between Rainforest Foundation US, Amazon Watch, COICA and dozens of other allies and partners to raise and distribute funding directly to indigenous communities impacted by the coronavirus.
  2. SOS Rainforest Live – A collaboration between the three Rainforest Foundations (US, UK and Norway) to work with artists, scientists and indigenous leaders to secure direct funding for indigenous groups impacted by the coronavirus.
  3. COVID-19 response in Peru – A new partnership among USAID, CEDRO Peru, and Rainforest Foundation US, which will regularly deliver health information and related messages to vulnerable indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon Departments of Loreto and Ucayali. At the same time, this project will engage existing RFUS networks to leverage instant data from communities as they report the impacts of the  COVID-19 crisis to regional organizations and the government, generating support and visibility. This is a two-year program that coordinates support among the  Peruvian government, indigenous organizations, and other allies to prevent, mitigate and respond to immediate needs.
  4. Remote monitoring and advocacy – An effort by Rainforest Foundation US and partners in Peru, Guyana, Brazil and Central America to conduct expanded monitoring of illegal activity in indigenous territories – using a combination of near-real-time satellite data, high resolution imagery and on-the-ground networks – while travel to many of these areas is restricted due to coronavirus.
  5. Fora Garimpo, Fora Covid (Miners Out, COVID Out) Campaign – A major campaign spearheaded by Yanomami organizations to remove the roughly 20,000 illegal miners operating in the Yanomami Territory in northern Brazil. COVID-19 has been spreading in communities closest to illegal mining areas, with potentially devastating results. RFUS is collaborating on the campaign together with partners and allies Hutukara Yanomami Association, Instituto Socioambiental, Survival International, Amazon Watch and many others. Click here to sign the petition at minersoutcovidout.org
  6. Supporting economic sustainability in the COVID-19 crisis: RFUS is helping communities develop and implement sustainable revenue generating activities within the parameters of health protocols, such as reforestation with income generating species and securing community level payments for their forest protection using blockchain technology. 

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Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Video: Rainforest Foundation US 2019 Year In Review

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Webinars

Right to the Land: Indigenous Land Title as a Climate Strategy

Here’s an insight at the heart of RFUS’s work: Lands legally controlled by Indigenous peoples and local communities show lower rates of deforestation—up to a 66% reduction in forest cover loss. Listen to Cameron Ellis and Kim Chaix of Rainforest Foundation US speak about the power of land titling.

Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

APIB Statement in Response to the Murders of Indigenous Leaders in Maranhão

APIB Statement in Response to the Murders of Indigenous Leaders in Maranhão

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2019

On this International Human Rights Day, we share with you a statement from the National Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB) regarding the recent murder of two Indigenous leaders.

The following is APIB’s statement in response to the murders  of Indigenous Leaders in Maranhão (1), presented at Cop25 in Madrid:

Madrid, December 9, 2019 – Earlier this year we, the National Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), the Brazilian coordinating organization for the country’s Indigenous Peoples, held a national campaign called Red January. With the campaign slogan “Indigenous Blood: Not a Single Drop More”, we denounced the launch of the offensive against Indigenous Peoples that began as soon as Jair Bolsonaro was inaugurated President. Immediately upon taking office, he targeted existing policies in support of Indigenous Peoples and overrode them in support of the worst agribusiness interests, all the while fanning the flames of hate speech and prejudice against Indigenous Peoples.

Last Saturday, on December 7, another two Indigenous leaders were murdered: Firmino Silvino Prexede Guajajara, Chief of Silvino Village (Cana Brava Indigenous Land), and Raimundo Guajajara, Chief of Descendência Severino Village (Lagoa Comprida Indigenous Land), both in Maranhão state – where just 35 days ago the Forest Guardian Paulo Paulino Guajajara was also killed.

These crimes reflect the escalation of hate and barbarism inflamed by Jair Bolsonaro’s government, which is attacking us daily, denying our right to exist and promoting the historical illness of racism, which Brazil still suffers from.

We are adrift without protection from the State, which is not fulfilling its constitutional duties. The current administration is acting outside of the law, criminal in its political practice, and is operating in a genocidal way, seeking to expel us from our territories, killing our culture, and making our peoples bleed.

The tension, persecution and lack of safety felt by Brazil’s Indigenous Peoples is increasing. We are being attacked, wiped out and criminalized. An attack on Indigenous life is an attack against humanity, as we Indigenous Peoples of the world defend 82% of global biodiversity. In Brazil, we amount to almost a million Indigenous People. We protect 13% of ecosystems in the whole country. We are among the planet’s richest cultures, represented by 305 peoples and 274 languages, and over 180 cases of peoples in voluntary isolation.

Much is said about fighting climate change, but it must be understood that our survival will guarantee the preservation of what is most important to the future of humanity. Mother Earth cannot handle another 50 years of the current predatory economic model. We know that we are in danger and that there is no more time.

We demand justice, and that measures be taken immediately! We demand that the government authorities investigate the atrocities committed against us and punish the criminals who perpetrated these murders, so that the feeling of impunity doesn’t motivate more criminal actions against our people, the brutal slaughtering of ndigenous lives.

Here at COP25, where we’re participating with a delegation of over 20 Indigenous People from across Brazil, we demand that Indigenous Peoples’ rights be respected in fully implementing the Paris Climate Accord.

To our friends and allies from civil society organizations around the world, we also ask for help. This will be Red December! We call for a global mobilization. Our people in Maranhão state occupied BR 216 Highway, seeking justice for all of the murders, and we need everybody to join the fight, to make it a collective struggle.

This will be the Red December for Indigenous Peoples and peoples of the planet, and our right to exist. Indigenous Blood: Not a Single Drop More!

Rainforest Foundation US was founded 30 years ago to promote the rights of indigenous peoples living in the rainforest and to support them and other forest communities in their effort to protect and defend their territories.

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Notes

(1) The killings — the third in the last month—take place against the backdrop of growing evidence from the IPCC and the IPBES that when indigenous and other local communities have strong land rights, they outperform all other public and private actors in protecting forests and biodiversity. They argue this is not just a matter of human rights. It is a matter of protecting the planet.

Additional Contacts

For more information, or to speak to an Indigenous leader, please contact Marielle Ramires at +55 61 9635-8257 or Maria Paula Fernandes at +55 21 99716-7529

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Stories

Cinema on the River: A Floating Film Festival in the Heart of the Peruvian Amazon

The Muyuna Floating Film Festival showcased a unique floating screen, bringing films directly to riverside communities in the Peruvian Amazon. During the festival, Rainforest Foundation US supported an Indigenous Cinema Workshop, emphasizing the urgent need to understand these issues from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Webinars

Right to the Land: Indigenous Land Title as a Climate Strategy

Here’s an insight at the heart of RFUS’s work: Lands legally controlled by Indigenous peoples and local communities show lower rates of deforestation—up to a 66% reduction in forest cover loss. Listen to Cameron Ellis and Kim Chaix of Rainforest Foundation US speak about the power of land titling.

Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Video: How Satellites and Drones Help Indigenous Peoples Protect the Amazon Forest

Video: How Satellites and Drones Help Indigenous Peoples Protect the Amazon Forest

Rainforest Foundation US and If Not Us Then Who release new documentary from the Amazon that shows how indigenous environmental defenders are conserving forests using technology

The Facts

  1. About 35% of intact forest landscapes in the Amazon are managed by Indigenous communities.
  2. Yet, in 2018, more than 30 environmental defenders were killed, including several Indigenous leaders.
  3. The Amazon loses the equivalent of about one soccer field of rainforest every minute.
  4. Indigenous-led forest monitoring using affordable, high-tech solutions deliver “measurable reductions in deforestation,” according to Columbia University researchers.
  5. This technology has the potential to be scaled up and deployed to other parts of the Amazon and beyond, resulting in important reductions in deforestation across the tropical belt.

What’s at stake

Indigenous communities living across the Amazon have known for centuries how to protect the forest.

However, intensifying industrial slash and burn agriculture, large-scale cattle ranching, and indiscriminate resource extraction are threats that require new tools and new allies to confront these challenges. About 17% of the Amazon forest has been destroyed over the last 50 years and scientists agree that an additional 3 – 8% deforestation could lead to a tipping point in which up to 60% of the Amazon would lose its tree cover and become a savannah-like landscape.

This change would be catastrophic not just for the Indigenous Peoples but to all of us who depend on the forest’s ability to capture and store carbon and maintain its rich biodiversity.

The Solution: High Tech meets ancestral traditions

Fortunately, satellite imagery, inexpensive remote-controlled drones, and GPS enabled smartphones are making it easier for Indigenous communities to patrol their territories remotely and stop deforestation in the Amazon.

These high tech tools are used to track threats to the forest in near real time, resulting in “measurable reductions in deforestation,” according to Columbia University researchers who recently unveiled the preliminary findings of a year-long randomized controlled trial sponsored by Rainforest Foundation US and the Organization of Indigenous Peoples Eastern Amazon (ORPIO). The study was carried out across 250,000 hectares of Indigenous territories in the Peruvian Amazon.

The preliminary results of the study were presented on September 24th at Ford Foundation where scientists, donors, program managers, and representatives from various Indigenous Communities from Central and South America discussed their work and the challenges they face.

The event also featured an exhibition of images by Laurence Ellis of Indigenous Peoples from the site where the study was conducted in the Peruvian Amazon. Ellis’ photos are featured in the upcoming Fall/Winter 2019 issue of Document.

In a panel moderated by actor and climate activist Alec Baldwin, the discussion centered around the potential this technology-driven solution could have in helping protect Indigenous Peoples and the rest of the Amazon from deforestation.

A system to reduce deforestation

The data gathered and analyzed by Columbia University was generated using a four-prong intervention strategy developed by Rainforest Foundation US, ORPIO, and the World Resources Institute.

How It Works: Turning information into action

1. Indigenous technicians are trained and work in regional hubs to collect and analyze satellite data, which alerts them to possible deforestation.

2. Once a threat has been detected, these Indigenous technicians relay the information to “community forest technology monitors,” who use a smartphone app called Forest Watcher to locate the areas in their territories where deforestation may be occurring.

3. These representatives then go into the field with their team to investigate the area, on foot and using drones, to verify the alert with photographs which the app Forest Watcher then geotags and catalogues.

4. Monitors then report their findings back to their community assembly, the highest authority, which determines as a group whether the deforestation is authorized or unauthorized. If it’s the latter, action is taken—either through internal governance systems or by delivering the findings to the proper authorities.

About the study

Between early 2018 and May 2019, researchers at Columbia University measured the impacts of the program, specifically on governance and deforestation rates. Tara Slough, the principal investigator of the study, announced the preliminary findings during the conference. Slough and her team found that not only did the surveyed communities participate in monitoring at high rates, but their monitoring activities increased and deforestation decreased over time, suggesting that maintaining and scaling such programs is a viable long term solution.

The message is clear: Monitoring with technology reduces deforestation, positively impacts governance, and is in high demand.

Scaling up

In light of this system’s potential to reduce or stop deforestation entirely, the logical question is to ask if this solution can be scaled up, how quickly, and at what cost? Rainforest Foundation US calculated that it costs about $5 to protect a hectare of forest and about $1 to avoid one ton of carbon emissions in the study area. However, these costs could vary based on a number of factors when the technology is scaled and replicated elsewhere.

Nevertheless, at these prices, community monitoring can be an extremely powerful tool to reduce deforestation and avoid carbon emissions. Currently, investment in forest protection accounts for only about 1.5% of the hundreds of millions of dollars allocated to mitigating climate change annually. Rainforest Foundation US and our indigenous partners are determined to deploy this technology to the Indigenous territories that need it most.

Supplemental content

“Study evaluates the impact of indigenous community tropical forest monitoring with technology
and resource governance in the Amazon” (A 4 page PDF synopsis of study)

Estudio evalúa el impacto del monitoreo en bosques tropicales de comunidades indígenas en la Amazonía que emplean tecnología y gobernanza de recursos” (documento en Español en pdf de 4 paginas que explica el estudio).

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Indigenous Tech Camps: An Incubator for Indigenous-Led Solutions in the Peruvian Amazon

Rainforest Foundation US hosted events in the Peruvian Amazon to develop four pilot programs led by Indigenous communities to scale up effective conservation strategies. The Indigenous Tech Camps served as a collaborative platform, uniting various Indigenous organizations with academics, government officials, and international allies. These initiatives underscore our commitment to advancing Indigenous-led solutions in the Amazon.

Edico Cuelo in his shop in Puerto Alegre, Peru
Stories

Keeping Forests Standing and Bettering Lives

Rainforest Foundation US has begun an unprecedented program of direct finance forest defense, wherein indigenous communities are financially rewarded for successfully protecting their territories against deforestation. In Puerto Alegre, on the Amazon River in Northern Peru, community members speak about the tremendous vulnerabilities confronting them.

Support Rainforest Alert!

Rainforest Foundation US believes that our Rainforest Alert program can avoid nearly 4,000 square miles (1 million hectares) of deforestation over the coming decade – that’s twice the size of Delaware.

Hover over the amounts below to see how much rainforest you can help protect by donating to Rainforest Alert.

Video: We Stand with Communities on the Frontlines

Video: We Stand with Communities on the Frontlines

Under the Bolsonaro presidency, deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is up 278% and the world’s largest tropical forest is being converted into a mosaic of cattle pasture and soy fields faster than ever before.  Deforestation – and now the fires we’re witnessing – is the direct result of the ongoing dismantling of public policies that protect the rainforest and support indigenous rights in Brazil. They’re also the result of insatiable world-wide demand for products including soy, beef, and leather. Both companies and consumers are beginning to take action – already yesterday 18 brands including Timberland, Vans and Kipling have suspended buying Brazilian leather.  

Meanwhile, here at the Rainforest Foundation our focus is on our indigenous partners and local communities at the frontlines in the Amazon. Check out this video from the Xingu+ Network to get a feel for what indigenous peoples on the ground are thinking and doing to protect their forests from destruction. It has special resonance for us, as the Rainforest Foundation was founded 30 years ago to support the demarcation of the Menkragnoti Territory where the community in this video lives. And now fires are approaching their lands. They say they will “resist for the forest” by producing without destroying, saying no to deforestation and fires in their lands. All because even though they are from the Xingu region of Brazil, they are all connected with us.

While we are grateful for the interest in sending specialized water bombers and firefighters to extinguish some of the flames, their impact on the 10,000 active fires can’t be sustained over time.  The real heroes in this tragedy are the women and men on the ground who work every day to protect their lands – by monitoring their forests, defending their land rights, confronting illegal deforestation head on, building resilient community institutions, promoting sustainable economic alternatives, and planting trees.  This work is a critically important contribution to keeping the Amazon standing – and to tackling the climate crisis.

We stand with these brave men and women who are putting their lives on the line for their families, their culture, and for the world as we know it.

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Stories

Cinema on the River: A Floating Film Festival in the Heart of the Peruvian Amazon

The Muyuna Floating Film Festival showcased a unique floating screen, bringing films directly to riverside communities in the Peruvian Amazon. During the festival, Rainforest Foundation US supported an Indigenous Cinema Workshop, emphasizing the urgent need to understand these issues from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Webinars

Right to the Land: Indigenous Land Title as a Climate Strategy

Here’s an insight at the heart of RFUS’s work: Lands legally controlled by Indigenous peoples and local communities show lower rates of deforestation—up to a 66% reduction in forest cover loss. Listen to Cameron Ellis and Kim Chaix of Rainforest Foundation US speak about the power of land titling.

Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

Statement from the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities

Statement from the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 23, 2019

RAINFOREST FOUNDATION US’S GLOBAL PARTNER, THE GLOBAL ALLIANCE OF TERRITORIAL COMMUNITIES, RELEASES A STATEMENT REGARDING THE FOREST FIRES CURRENTLY IMPACTING BRAZIL

For full copy English PDF
Full copy Portuguese PDF
Full copy Spanish PDF

The Global Alliance of Territorial Communities expresses its repudiation of the misleading statements made by the Brazilian government related to the fires in the Amazon and highlights the importance of indigenous peoples and local communities to combat fires and protect the region.

Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon doubled between January and August, compared to the same period of the past year. Gray smoke is spreading throughout the country and, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), it is the result of intensifying fires that affect the Amazon rainforest.

Given the accusations of the Brazilian government about the causes of the fires, the members of the Global Alliance declare that indigenous peoples and local communities have faced a series of murders, invasions and threats while protecting the forest and highlight its resistant role in order to keep the forest preserved.

The invasions of our lands and the increasing activity of miners, loggers and other illegal groups in our territories are the real cause of the increase in fires and deforestation in the Amazon, which has been stimulated by the environmental policies proposed for the region by the Brazilian government.

As guardians of 400 million hectares of forests worldwide, the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities highlights the international recognition of indigenous peoples and local communities as guardians of the land and forests of the world, expressed in the recent report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), published this month.

Indigenous peoples and local communities in the Amazon Basin, Brazil, Mesoamerica and Indonesia are represented in the Global Alliance of Territorial Communities, grouped by the organizations: Articulation of the Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), Mesoamerican Alliance of Peoples and Forests (AMPB), Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN) and Coordinator of the Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon Basin (COICA).

Rainforest Foundation US was founded 30 years ago to promote the rights of indigenous peoples living in the rainforest and to support them and other forest communities in their effort to protect and defend their territories. 

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Read More

Stories

Cinema on the River: A Floating Film Festival in the Heart of the Peruvian Amazon

The Muyuna Floating Film Festival showcased a unique floating screen, bringing films directly to riverside communities in the Peruvian Amazon. During the festival, Rainforest Foundation US supported an Indigenous Cinema Workshop, emphasizing the urgent need to understand these issues from the perspective of Indigenous peoples and local communities.

Webinars

Right to the Land: Indigenous Land Title as a Climate Strategy

Here’s an insight at the heart of RFUS’s work: Lands legally controlled by Indigenous peoples and local communities show lower rates of deforestation—up to a 66% reduction in forest cover loss. Listen to Cameron Ellis and Kim Chaix of Rainforest Foundation US speak about the power of land titling.

Support Our Work

Rainforest Foundation US is tackling the major challenges of our day: deforestation, the climate crisis, and human rights violations. Your donation moves us one step closer to creating a more sustainable and just future.

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Didier Devers
Chief of Party – USAID Guatemala
gro.y1721247291nffr@1721247291sreve1721247291dd1721247291

Didier has been coordinating the USAID-funded B’atz project since joining Rainforest Foundation US in April 2022. He holds a Master’s in Applied Anthropology and a Bachelor’s in Geography. Before joining the organization, Didier worked for 12 years in Central and South America on issues of transparency, legality, governance, and managing stakeholders’ processes in the environmental sector. Prior to that he worked on similar issues in Central Africa. He speaks French, Spanish, and English, and is based in Guatemala.