The Partido Verde (PV), or the Green Party of Brazil filed an allegation of non-compliance against General Augusto Heleno, the Minister of Institutional Security. General Heleno has authorized illegal mining in a protected area of the Amazon. This area is in the Sao Gabriel da Cachoeira region at the border of Venezuela and Columbia.

The allegation was on the grounds that General Heleno does not have the legal power to open up mining in this sector as ‘Minister of Institutional Security’. That may be the case, the truth is General Heleno and has been emboldened by the Brazilian President to push for mining whenever possible.

Illegal mining has hit record highs under the leadership of the Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Satellite imagery shows that in the last decade mining has increased fivefold in the Amazon, largely in legally protected areas and Indigenous land.

Credit: Meridith Kohut/The New York Times/eyevine

The PV staunchly argues that mining in the Amazon does irreparable damage to humans and the environment. There is no such thing as sustainable mining and the PV knows this. Mining operations do destroy the rainforest, its biodiversity, and pollutes the water systems.

Along with the PV, Indigenous groups take an active role in protecting their land. Indigenous conflicts with miners and the authorities have also risen due to illegal mining operations. The Bolsonaro government has been heavily criticized by the international media for ignoring his own country’s laws on land rights as well as international agreements on environmental conservation and deforestation.

In order to preserve their land, which feature biodiversity hotspots and natural carbon capture wells, the Amazonian Indigenous groups have gone abroad to seek extra help. Brazilian Indigenous groups have filed a complaint against their government with the International Court at The Hague in the Netherlands. However, Bolsonaro is unlikely to be moved by any of their sentiments or the limited pressure from the international community.

The best hope the PV and Indigenous groups have is to keep pursuing legal channels in their own country such as this allegation of non-compliance. Although the President may be ignoring the domestic laws, the PV can focus on the legal integrity of other branches of the countries judicial system.

Eliot Heiss

Eliot is a journalist, podcast host, and researcher, specializing in international relations and environmental politics. He graduated with an MA in Political Science from the Universität Salzburg, Austria and a BA in Political Science from the University of Victoria, Canada.

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