Native American leaders call on companies and banks to stop funding deforestation

US: Amazonian indigenous leaders have warned that the ecosystem is on the verge of a catastrophic collapse and urged major Western brands and banks to halt the ongoing destruction of essential rainforest through mining, oil drilling and logging.

All indigenous peoples of the Amazon region have this week in New York pressurized governments and corporations to stop activities that are polluting and destroying large tracts of rainforest. Groups are in town for the United Nations and climate conferences.

According to a recent report by the Association of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), products from companies such as Apple, Microsoft and Tesla may contain gold that was illegally mined in indigenous territories along the Amazon.

Two refineries, Chimet and Marsam, which the Brazilian authorities are looking for their connections to illegal mining, supply these businesses. According to the APIB report, the total area used for illegal mining in the Amazon has increased significantly over the past ten years, increasing by 495% to 2,409 hectares in 2021.

Since the election of President Jair Bolsonaro, illegal gold mining in Brazil has increased significantly. Now, Bolsonaro's allies are attempting to pass legislation through the country's Congress that would allow mineral extraction on indigenous lands. Deforestation, conflicts with local indigenous populations, and mercury poisoning of the water are all responsible for the mining.

“People are dying as a result of this deadly industry,” said Dinam Tuxa, leader of the Tuxa people of the state of Bahia in the northeast of Brazil and executive coordinator of the APIB. "We are seeing the destruction of ecosystems and entire communities." Our lives are in danger, mainly from miners, loggers and agricultural corporations.

Our traditional lifestyle is directly threatened by these activities. All the destruction and violence is the result of the desire of these large corporations to pursue industries such as mining and agribusiness on indigenous lands.

Additionally, indigenous activists have accused several major US financial institutions of ongoing logging and mining operations in the Amazon that are degrading the rainforest, including BlackRock, Vanguard and JPMorgan Chase. According to data released in July, the rate of deforestation in Brazil's Amazon region has reached a six-year high. Scientists warn that the enabling ecosystem is at risk of becoming a grass savanna due to global warming and the removal of trees for agricultural purposes.

“We see huge infrastructure projects in the Amazon, projects that are not designed for people living in the Amazon,” said Toya Manchineri, representative of the Manchineri people of the Amazonian state of Acre. who know nothing of our reality and live outside."

Manchineri claimed that logging operations, new dam construction, and oil drilling interfere with traditional indigenous ways of life and make it more difficult to find fish or medicinal plants in the forest. These critical infrastructure projects, according to Manchineri, "bring thousands of strange people into our cities, bringing with them diseases, violence, prostitution, alcohol, filth, and overcrowding our hospitals."

Indigenous populations are harmed by these large businesses. All that is left for us is poverty, violence and abandonment of the state; This development does not happen to us.

The Amazon has long been a top priority for conservationists, and some Indigenous leaders in New York admitted that they were tired of trying to persuade those in influential positions to protect the site, which compared the native population. I was more. and serves as a home for an important ecosystem and carbon store, which, when protected, can help prevent climate breakdown.

I sometimes question why I leave. "I'm tired of saying the same thing and things are moving so slowly," said Domingo Paes, of the Achuar tribe in Ecuador's Amazon. “However, I have met many people – both in government and youth activists – who insist that we must act immediately. This gives me hope that things are changing when I hear people say things like this .

"Our responsible sourcing standards are among the strongest in the industry and strictly forbid the use of illegally mined minerals," an Apple spokesperson said.

"We remove smelters and refiners from our supply chain if they are unable or unwilling to adhere to our strict standards. Since 2009, we have ordered the removal of more than 150 smelters and refiners."

When this article was published, none of the companies Tesla, Microsoft, JPMorgan Chase or Vanguard had responded to requests for comment. BlackRock chose not to respond.

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