Brazilian authorities have burned nearly 70 ships in a combat operation against illegal miners who were seduced by rumors of gold being discovered in a major Amazon tributary, government and environmental organization Greenpeace said.
Justice Minister Anderson Torres said 69 boats were destroyed on Saturday and on Sunday released photos and videos of the boats burning 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 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 for the process of preventing illegal mining from emerging.
By Saturday, many of the boats had spread to other areas nearby, according to Brazilian Greenpeace reports, which also posted photos of the flaming dredging boats.
“The process shows that Brazil has the capacity to confront illegal activities and ensure the protection of our rivers, tropical forests and traditional peoples,” the environmental organization said.
“All we need is political will,” he added.
Although illegal gold mining is common in the Amazon, this rush into the precious metal, about 100 kilometers from the city of Manaus, has attracted particular interest, Greenpeace said last week.
The organization called on the authorities to act as quickly as possible to end what it described as an environmental crime.
A report by the Federal University of Minas Gerais, which was conducted in cooperation with the Brazilian Public Ministry, revealed in July that only 34% of the 174 tons of gold mined in Brazil between 2019 and 2020 had a proven legal origin.
Environmentalists accuse Jair Bolsonaro’s government of pursuing anti-environmental policies and weakening protection measures.
Since Bolsonaro came to power in January 2019, deforestation has increased in the Amazon, mainly due to illegal mining and cattle ranching.
“Hardcore alcohol maven. Hipster-friendly analyst. Introvert. Devoted social media advocate.”