Brazilian authorities burned nearly 70 vessels in a combat operation against illegal miners lured by rumors of a gold discovery in a major Amazon tributary, said the government and environmental organization Greenpeace.
Justice Minister Anderson Torres said that 69 boats were destroyed on Saturday and this Sunday released photographs and a video of the burning boats on the banks of the Madeira River.
“Senhor ministro, parabéns por esta operação”, escreveu o Presidente Jair Bolsonaro na sua conta na rede social Twitter.
At least 300 dredging boats were lined up side by side on the river last week, following rumors of a new gold discovery. But as images of the gold rush spread, authorities were preparing the operation to prevent illegal mining from arising.
By Saturday, many boats had dispersed to other nearby areas, reports Greenpeace Brasil, which also posted photos of dredging boats on fire.
The “operation shows that Brazil has the capacity to face illegal activities and ensure the protection of our rivers, tropical forests, and traditional peoples”, said that environmental organization.
“All that is needed is political will,” he added.
Although the illegal extraction of gold is common in the Amazon, this rush to precious metals, about 100 kilometers from the city of Manaus, has attracted particular attention, said Greenpeace last week.
The organization called on authorities to move as quickly as possible to end what it called an environmental crime.
A report by the Federal University of Minas Gerais, done in collaboration with the Brazilian Public Ministry, revealed in July that only 34% of the 174 tons of gold extracted in Brazil between 2019 and 2020 had a proven legal origin.
Environmentalists accuse Jair Bolsonaro’s government of pursuing anti-environment policies and weakening protections.
Since Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019, deforestation in the Amazon has increased, mainly due to illegal mining and cattle raising.
Source: with Agencies