"Illegal Airstrips Bringing Toxic Mining to Brazil’s Indigenous Land"

"Hundreds of airstrips have been secretly built on protected lands in Brazil to fuel the illegal mining industry, a Times investigation found, including 61 in this Yanomami Indigenous territory.

The Times identified more than 1,200 other unregistered airstrips across the Brazilian Amazon — many of them part of criminal networks that are destroying Indigenous lands and threatening their people."

"BOA VISTA, Brazil — From 2,500 feet in the air, the dirt airstrip is just a crack in a seemingly endless ocean of rainforest, surrounded by muddy mining pits that bleed toxic chemicals into a riverbed.

The airstrip is owned by the Brazilian government — the only way for health care officials to reach the Indigenous people in the nearby village. But illegal miners have seized it, using small planes to ferry equipment and fuel into areas where roads don’t exist. And when a plane the miners don’t recognize approaches, they spread fuel canisters along the airstrip to make landing impossible.

“The airstrip now belongs to the miners,” said Junior Hekurari, an Indigenous health care official."

Manuela Andreoni, Blacki Migliozzi, Pablo Robles, and Denise Lu report for the New York Times with photographs by Victor Moriyama August 2, 2022.

Source: NYTimes, 08/03/2022