French troops hunt outlaw miners in Guiana

Guiana shield

France has dispatched hundreds of army troops to the¬†overseas territory of French Guiana, to hunt down¬†outlaw¬†gold miners who have destroyed thousands of hectares of rainforest along the Maroni River over the past months. But apprehending the¬†garimpeiros¬†is nearly impossible;¬†they abandon their camps and dredges and melt into the jungle as the troops approach. Some 9,000 illegal miners are believed to be operating at around 150 sites across the territory‚ÄĒup from little more than 100 a decade ago.¬†The garimpeiros, however, are the smallest links in a chain, paid a pittance‚ÄĒwhile the dealers they sell¬†the gold to race up and down the river in speedboats. “We’re only catching the little guys,”¬†admitted French Guiana’s public prosecutor Samuel Finielz. (AFP)

Meanwhile in Brazil,¬†President Jair Bolsonaro responded to weeks of mounting pressure by sending¬†army troops to the Rio¬†Madeira in Amazonas and Rond√īnia states, where a new “gold rush” has seen an sudden massive influx of garimpeiros, with hundreds of camps established. The two-month mission falls under Operation Sama√ļma, launched in June to combat insecurity in Brazil’s vast and lawless stretch of the Amazon rainforest.

Bolsonaro, who was a no-show at the Glasgow climate summit, has gutted environmental enforcement since taking office in 2019, ignoring invasions of protected public and indigenous lands by illegal miners, loggers and cattle ranchers. (Sky News, BBC News, The Guardian, SecomVc, Paraná Portal, Bem Paraná, Brasil de Fato)