The fight against gold mining and the impacts of gas exploration on the Juruá River are discussed by local leaders, public bodies and partner institutions

With the presence of Ibama and ICMBio, a social movement from the Middle Juruá meets to define strategies that prevent new illegal mining operations in the region.

*By Clara Machado, Ronnayana Silva and Renato Rocha

Participants of the 1st Meeting of Leaders for Monitoring Socio-environmental Rights and Safeguards in the Middle Juruá, in Carauari (AM).
The maintenance of the Juruá River as a ?territory free of mining? and discussion on the impacts of gas exploration were the objectives of the 1st Leadership Meeting for Monitoring Socio-environmental Rights and Safeguards in the Middle Juruá. 

After operation successful against an illegal mining raft that operated in the municipality of Itamarati (AM) in November last year, local associations and community leaders from the Middle Juruá began to mobilize to prevent mining from investing in one of the last regions still free mining activities in the Amazon.

In this sense, the Middle Juruá Territory Forum, which brings together local associations and institutional partners that operate in the region, promoted the event in Carauari (AM), between July 21st and 22nd, with execution by Sitawi and OPAN, and support from the Association of Rural Producers of Carauari (ASPROC), ICMBio, Memorial Chico Mendes (MCM) and the Juruá Institute. 

The program included lectures on the impacts of mining and gas exploration in different regions of the country, and debates were held to contextualize the threats posed to the Juruá river channel and forward strategies to confront the advance of these activities in the territory. The technical explanations were carried out by members of the Movement for Popular Sovereignty in Mining (MAM), from 350.org, of Juruá Institute and gives OPAN.

Despite being organized by partner associations from the Middle Juruá, the objective is to protect the entire river channel, as the impacts of these activities in one area have an impact on the river as a whole, as highlighted by José Alves, from the Association of Agroextractivist Residents of the Lower Middle Juruá ( AMAB).

Rosângela Cunha, president of the Association of Agroextractivist Women of the Middle Juruá (ASMAMJ), composed the event's opening table and emphasized that water contamination resulting from gold mining activity especially affects women and children, who become more vulnerable by directly using the waters of rivers in their household chores, in addition to mercury, the metal used in the gold mining process, causing serious problems in the female reproductive system.

Table of the event composed by the manager of Resex Médio Juruá, Manoel Cunha, Regional Coordinator of ICMBio, Wilzer Gonçalves, Superintendent of Ibama in Amazonas, Joel Araújo, City Councilor of Carauari, Antônio Almires, and Secretary of Environment of Itamarati, Natanilson Lopes.

?This fight is for the right to live?, stated the ICMBio Regional Coordinator, Wilzer Gonçalves, who participated in the days of the event. Ibama was also present through the agency's Superintendent in Amazonas, Joel Araújo, who signed the commitment to "combat, with all our strength, the arrival of [illegal] mining in the Purus and Juruá". 

The event also discussed the social and environmental impacts of oil and gas exploration in the region. Part of the Brazilian energy sector is preparing to start exploration through the fracking, a method of fracturing underground layers to extract the gas. Also known as ?gas mining?, the fracking causes contamination of the soil, rivers and groundwater. Despite the efforts of the last federal administration to regulate this technique, it is still prohibited in Brazil. Several Brazilian municipalities and states have also edited bills for the prohibition of this gas extraction method. During the event, community leaders expressed opposition to the use of fracking in Juruá.

?The community members are not against the development of the country nor against the exploitation of resources, the fight is against the predatory way that it is done. […] The progress we believe in is the strengthening of local enterprises. Can the country's development be done in another way, which strengthens the local culture and economy?, said Manoel Cunha, local leader and manager of the RESEX of Médio Juruá. 

In addition to Ibama and ICMBio, the City Council of Carauari, the Environment Secretariats of Carauari and Itamarati, representatives of the Deni, Kanamari and Majiha Kulina indigenous peoples, the Sustainable Amazon Foundation (FAS), the National Council of Extractivist Peoples ( CNS), the International Institute of Education of Brazil (IIEB), and representatives of all the associations that make up the Forum of the Middle Juruá Territory.

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