Gold plated genocide

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The Yanomami are not the only tribal communities among Brazil's Indians facing a dark future. The Guarani Kaiowa Indians in the state of Mato Grosso do Sui are showing signs of mass frustration, and incidence of suicides among them have shot up recently. The figure of 30 suicides this year is the highest in the last decade.

Anthropologists from the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and the attorney general's office have said that extreme poverty and territorial confinement are the main reasons behind this. Antonio Brand, former secretary of the Catholic Indian Missionary Council, has said that the Indians can themselves solve their problems, provided measures are taken to expand their reservations, their lost territories recovered, and they receive adequate assistance. Brand is certain that only national and international pressure can make this possible. "Without any pressure, the concern will once again subside."

But Brand's hopes may sink without trace. And the shape of things to come can already been seen in neighbouring Venezuela. The Commission for the Creation of Yanomami Park's (CCPY) newsletter of June 1995, quoting the New York Times of April 7 , says: "Without demarcation and protection, the future of the Yanomami and Makuxi Indians in Roraima could be what is happening in Venezuela. Since the Corporacion Venezuelana de Guiana, the agency that oversees the forest in Venezuela's Bolivar state, has handed out more than 3.5 million acres in mining concessions, lawyers in Venezuela's attorney general's office call the corporation an illegal, carpetbagging entity. Sixty companies from Europe, Japan and USA have joined the Guiana Gold Rush, because the Guiana Highlands on the borders of Brazil and Venezuela contain, the Venezuelan government has estimated, around US $90 billion of gold, or 10 per cent of the world's gold reserves. "They are destroying the home of the last unassimilated Indian tribes in the New World, and one of the richest of the planets forests."