Gold Miners Murder Indigenous Leader, Force Villagers in Brazil’s Amazon to Flee
The violence confirms fears that right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro's promises to open protected lands to mining and other extractive industries will have devastating consequences for indigenous communities.
"The president is responsible for this death," opposition Sen. Rodolfe Rodrigues told The New York Times.
Brazil: Indigenous peoples across the Amazon are at risk of this violence “The killing comes as miners & loggers ar… https://t.co/CqURuQOk0Z— AMAZON WATCH (@AMAZON WATCH)1564317617.0
Rodrigues received an urgent voice message from leaders of the Wajãpi tribe, who live in the state of Amapá in Northern Brazil.
"They are armed with rifles and other weapons," community leader Jawaruwa Waiãpi said in the message. "We are in danger. You need to send the army to stop them."
Federal police arrived in the area Sunday, and both police and the federal prosecutors' office said they would investigate the incident, BBC News reported.
The murdered leader was identified as 68-year-old Emyra Wajãpi. His body was found with stab wounds in a river Wednesday, according to Brazil's indigenous rights agency Funai.
A leader of the Wajãpi tribe, Emyra Wajãpi, has been murdered in Brazil. Although no Wajãpi witnessed the killing,… https://t.co/dtGEDyuM6X— Survival International (@Survival International)1564403425.0
Reports of what happened next are mixed. Armed miners entered the village of Yvytotõ Friday, occupying a home and prompting the villagers to flee 40 minutes on foot to Mariry village, according to accounts from BBC News and Survival International. The Guardian reported that villagers fled Mariry to the larger village of Aramirã, where shots were fired on Saturday. BBC News reported that 10 to 15 miners invaded, while The Guardian and The New York Times put the number at dozens.
"The garimpeiros [miners] invaded the indigenous village and are there until today. They are heavily armed, they have machine guns. That is why we asking for help from the federal police," 26-year-old tribe member Kureni Waiãpi, who lives in Pedra Branca do Amapari, said, as The Guardian reported. "If nothing is done they will start to fight."
As the villagers sent their message pleading for help Saturday, Bolsonaro once again expressed his desire to open indigenous reserves to mining, speaking of the resources located in the Raposa Serra do Sol and Yanomami reserves, where mining invasions are common.
"I'm looking for the 'first world' to explore these areas in partnership and add value. That's the reason for my approximation with the United States. That's why I want a person of trust in the embassy in the USA," Bolsonaro said, according to the O Globo newspaper, as The Guardian reported. Bolsonaro has come under fire for his plan to appoint his son Eduardo as the U.S. ambassador.
Rodrigues said the weekend's incident was the first invasion of Waiãpi land in 30 years, according to BBC News.
Invasions like this one are "encouraged by the irresponsible, authoritarian and prejudiced stance of the current government — especially President Bolsonaro — and its attack on the rights of this country's first peoples," the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon said in a statement reported by Survival International.
The Waiãpi were first contacted in 1973 when Brazil's military dictatorship built a highway through part of their land, bringing miners and deadly diseases. Their territory was officially recognized in 1996. Today, around 1,500 Waiãpi live in the protected area, according to Survival International.
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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