Brazilian Government Takes Action to Protect Yanomami People and Reserve

On February 4th, 2023, the Brazilian government launched a campaign to drive tens of thousands of illegal miners out of the country’s largest Indigenous reserve, the Amazon’s Yanomami territory.[0] Special-forces environmental operatives destroyed aircraft, seized weapons and boats, and dismantled support structures used by mining mafias. The government’s statement on Wednesday lunchtime declared the objective was to protect the reserve from further destruction and pollution caused by the miners.

President Lula declared a public health emergency for the Yanomami people who have been suffering from malnutrition, diseases such as malaria, and scarcity of game for hunting.[1] Pollution of the rivers and land by mercury used by the miners has further exacerbated the plight of the Yanomami.[2] Lula has described the situation as a “genocide” and a “premeditated crime against the Yanomami” committed by a government that was previously unaware of their suffering.[3]

The Brazilian Institute of Environment and Renewable Natural Resources (IBAMA) will oversee the operation, with the goal of ensuring the Yanomami people are no longer at risk of exploitation and a further deterioration of their health. The government is committed to protecting the rights of the Yanomami people and preserving the environment of the reserve.

0. “Brazil launches operation to drive illegal miners from Yanomami lands” The Guardian, 8 Feb. 2023,

1. “Brazil launches raids to oust illegal miners from Indigenous land” Al Jazeera English, 8 Feb. 2023,

2. “Brazil cracks down on illegal gold miners on an indigenous reserve in the Amazon” NPR, 6 Feb. 2023,

3. “Brazil's humanitarian crisis exposed suffering of Yanomami people under Bolsonaro government” Brazil, 9 Feb. 2023,